Thursday, March 8, 2012

Rush, The Entertainer

It's worse that Rush Limbaugh's feckless defenders in the political elite kiss him off not as a serious, fearsome political force, but rather a mere entertainer, not worth undue attention, to say nothing of condemnation.

As dumb as Rush's political analysis might be, and as unpolitic his technique of expressing himself, his pool is politics, mostly invective against non-conservatives of his particular stripe (whatever that may be).

Entertainers are supposed to, well, entertain. They are supposed to be, well, entertaining. This is, as they say, by definition.

Rush isn't funny, except to the dittoheads he calls his fans, and these fans don't seem to realize how uncharacteristically accurate and demeaning that description from their spiritual leader is.

Go to any comedy club, in any city, on any night and there will be at least one person about whom your table will look at each other and wonder, worlessly at first, in unison: How is this person not famous? And it won't be because of the watered-down drinks you've been served.

Funny is hard to do. It's incredibly easy to recognize.

Rush needs the hook not because he pollutes the airwaves, spreads lies and needless invective, and does this for money (I can think of two words to describe that, but then I'd have to apologize).

Rush needs to go because he gives entertainers a bad name.

Props to the first accountable Republican who is ready for his Judge Welch moment and says without equivocation that Rush has to be ignored because he is bad at what he does -- entertainment.

To Rush, the loss of some sponsors is like "losing a couple of French Fries in the container when it's delivered to you in the drive thru. You don't even notice it." Or, as the very entertaining Conan O'Brien quipped of the portly broadcaster, it's devastating.

But if the Rush parade moves on because he's a bad entertainer, hose CPAC bookings will dry up not because he's leading the charge to lose the hearts and minds of the new silent majority Conservatives need to win, but because he just isn't funny. Dated. Like Rich Little, unaware that he's become the joke.

Stations which carry Limbaugh's spectacularly-successful radio show will have to decide for themselves just what Rush's entertainment value prop continues to be. I'm not a fan of coordinated sponsor boycotts and loud, self-righteous protests from people who aren't fans of someone saying that that someone hey, hey, has to go. Business is business. This is not a free speech issue, but silencing people because you don't like what they say is un-American, whatever the technique.

We know this instinctively, which is why we knew Rush had gone too far one too many times by attempting to silence, through intimidation, a non-accountable private citizen in Sandra Fluke by singling her out for the particularly viscous kind of bullying which accelerates when the bully sits alone in a windowless room and need to fill the airwaves with something for hours and hours, every day.

His feckless friends won't admit it as they dismiss him as an entertainer, but through influence or kinship or fear or a desire to be noticed a campaign by someone as connected as Rush grants broad permission by others to ramp up the bullying. The world then becomes even more upside down: Rush, the victim, becomes an object of sympathy by like-minded people who now believe they have carte blanche to defend themselves, by whatever means necessary.

I thought Imus had blown it in the unfunny decorum department, but also didn't care for the way his transgression had become a phony cause celebré. On the other hand, I won't watch The Apprentice anymore, and turn off the TV whenever Donald Trump is interviewed, and will never stay in one of his hotels because he's ... well, you know.

When Rush's indifferent or frightened pol buddies turn away, that will be the beginning of the end.

They have a chance to do that, right now, while saving face, by taking advantage of maybe the best window of opportunity ever. Rush, who has always been wise to attack up, foolishly picked on a weakling this time. As it was with Imus, there's enough relatable history of a basic character failing to connect the dots without appearing to be intellectually dishonest about being disgusted only now.

This would hardly be (you will pardon the expression), a rush to judgement.

Friends of Rush don't need to condemn him, Crucible-like, for what he really is. All they have to do is get up and leave the club as they would when one of those guys who isn't the undiscovered comedy genius won't let go of the mic.

Pick up the tab, somebody. It's time to go.

— Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone. Location: 5th Ave., United States