I've stated several times my dislike for Rush Limbaugh. Ever since he attacked Chelsea Clinton on his (mercifully) short-lived TV show, I've had a contempt for him. He struck me as a blowhard and a lout. I was a fan of his for a time before that incident, but haven't listened to more than a couple minutes at a time to his show since. To me, that attack was despicable, beyond the pale, and revelatory of his character.
That being said, I find myself in the awkward position of occasionally having to not only defend him, but now actually having to praise him.
"Captain Ed" Morrissey of Captain's Quarters is a great blogger, but like so many of us, has health issues. His most recent one was back problems. He was briefly hospitalized, and released with a prescription for pain killers. Very potent ones. Potentially very addictive ones.
Well, Limbaugh (or, more likely, his staff) saw that. Limbaugh has cited and used the Captain's work on several occasions, and saw that he was in danger to Rush's recent weakness -- his own addiction to painkillers taken for a back injury. Limbaugh not only sent a note of sympathy, but gave very personal accounts of his own descent into addiction hell so Ed could watch for some of the warning signs. He also, apparently, gave Ed permission to mention the letter.
Now, this last part was incredibly remarkable. Ed, being an incredibly decent sort, wanted to publicly thank Limbaugh for his reaching out -- not only to make sure folks knew what he had done, but to give credit for his resistance and recovery that others might have given to him alone. Limbaugh must have known that any public acknowledgment would not only bring his own legal and medical woes back to the public eye, but renew attacks and scorn and denigration he had been heaped with before. But he did it anyway.
I still won't listen to Limbaugh's show. His style and on-air persona put me off. But he did something truly remarkable; he took a very tough personal experience and not only survived and is recovering from it, but he allowed his own horrendous experiences to be used by another -- someone who he had never met -- to avoid the trap Limbaugh fell into. And he did it with complete disregard for any consequences or price he might end up having to pay.
That, to me, shows that he's not the same man who aired a photo of 13-year-old Chelsea Clinton after referring to "the White House dog." And it's given me a reason to think a little more of the guy.