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Rethinking a Rush to judgment

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.


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Comments (51)

Lighten up on Rush, he is g... (Below threshold)
La Mano:

Lighten up on Rush, he is great political theatre. His bravado is part of the show. He is tough, hard-nosed, has an edge to him but he is funny. So he may a little overboard on occasion; you can't hold that against him forever. Don't hold him to a higher standard than everyone else.

Knowing that it is "part of... (Below threshold)

Knowing that it is "part of the show" does not make it any easier to stomach. I probably agree with him on most issues politically, but listening to someone constantly brag about how smart he is gets old very quickly. First it's offensive, then it's boring.

The bragging is part of the... (Below threshold)

The bragging is part of the theater:

> It is a parody of what his Leftist opposition thinks of themselves. Therefore, to hear an "unworthy" one brag about his intellect (and realize that his opinion ic corroborated by the facts) is particularly irritating to them.

> Besides, for years conservatives were told that any expressions that resemble such bravado were beneath us ... but the oppositon had no qualms about throwing up their ntellectual "superiority" in our faces to further their agenda. Methinks what part of Rush is doing here is encouraging conservatives to find their voice, and NOT be ashamed of being right on the issues.


After all, is it really braggin' if it's true?

I agree with Rich -- his br... (Below threshold)

I agree with Rich -- his bragadoccio is definitely tongue-in-cheek ("with one hand tied behind my back," etc.) and almost self-padrody as well. My reaction to his on-air persona is frequently the same as Jay's and hence I don't listen to him very often (fortunately I am not in the car mid-day too much). But I think this story confirms that, at his foundation, he is a pretty decent chap.

I realized Rush was mugging... (Below threshold)
Mark L:

I realized Rush was mugging for the cameras in his opening schtick when he hit the line "Talent on loan from God." It sounds arrogant if you are not well-read in the Bible, (incredibly not well-read, but a lot are nowadays), and fail to recognize the reference to the parable of the talents. In that parable we are told that we all have talents (literally gold, but figuratively ablities) on loan from our Creator, and are on Earth to see what we can do with them before we have to return them (die).

I'd say Rush has made good use of the talents he received.

I seldom listen to Limbaugh... (Below threshold)

I seldom listen to Limbaugh, but I check his web page every day. His political analyses are usually on target. He has predicted trends. He is the left's nightmare on steroids, which is one reason he was targeted by an ambitous D.A. for prosecution (as opposed to, say, a member of the Kennedy clan?).

We have to be sure libs cannot limit free speech on talk radio.

Geez -- I'm sure Rush is ju... (Below threshold)

Geez -- I'm sure Rush is just cut up over the fact that Jay and all you other wimps don't "like" him. The guy re-created an entire industry and has done more for the country than all of of our esteemed politicians combined.

>Ever since he attacked Che... (Below threshold)

>Ever since he attacked Chelsea Clinton on his (mercifully) short-lived TV show, I've had a contempt for him.

>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."

It's just a damn shame you refuse to get your facts straight. This has been talked to death. Yet you still perpetuate a myth.

You can lead a person to knowledge but you can not make them think. sigh

Rush is a hoot to listen to... (Below threshold)
Bob Jones:

Rush is a hoot to listen to and has been a voice for the silent majority for years. A pioneer in the "alternative" media for which I am thankful.

And he's fairly entertaining at times too. I listen when I can.

I think Rush is pretty funn... (Below threshold)
Mrs. Davis:

I think Rush is pretty funny and insightful. He's not perfect, nor does he pretend to be ("shown by surveys to be correct 98.5% of the time." That's funny.) I suspect he regrets the Chelsea hit and some others. But he also learns. This drug experience has taught him that the prosecutor isn't always right, something he assumed before. Anybody who can keep the ratings he has on a 3 hour daily show consisting almost exclusively of one person talking for 18 years through Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush is doing something right.

Paul, spin and bluster all ... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Paul, spin and bluster all you want. I SAW IT when it aired. I'm not counting on his critics' accounts. I was kind of a fan at the time, and I'd sometimes tape the show and watch it (it aired too late for me to watch). I could not believe he would attack a 13-year-old girl for her parents' politics, so I rewound it a couple of times. That was the day I stopped watching or listening to him.

The best spin I've seen is that it was a prank by his staff, and he didn't have time to go and fix it. Bullshit. When something like that happens, you FIND the time. You MAKE the time. Some things are above the pale. Attacking minor children for the sins of their parents is contemptible and despicable. To assail the appearance of an adolescent girl because you loathe her parents' politics is even worse. To do the whole thing on a nationally syndicated television show is pretty much the epitome of vulgarity.

And I repeat: I SAW IT.


So did I and you're full of... (Below threshold)

So did I and you're full of shit.

If it was a "myth," then ho... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

If it was a "myth," then how did you see it?

Try to maintain a shred of consistency.


and it's "beyond the pale"<... (Below threshold)

and it's "beyond the pale"

It was a MYTH that he "ATTA... (Below threshold)

It was a MYTH that he "ATTACKED" her. For starters HE did not control what went on the screen you nitwit. Saying HE attacked her could only be true if he at least ordered it to be done.

But don't let the obvious get in your way.

Hey Jay -- where are the We... (Below threshold)

Hey Jay -- where are the Weekend Caption Contest winners?

An utterly pointless rebutt... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

An utterly pointless rebuttal over the "beyond the pale" thing... are you trying to "correct" me again? That's exactly the phrasing I used. If you're trying to turn my own use of the phrase against me, it lacks context.

As far as "he didn't attack her" -- it was HIS show. HIS name on the show. HIS final say on what went out under HIS name. He tried to weasel it -- blame it on his staff, chuckling the whole time, but not exerting his authority to cut it out before it aired.

Maybe I'm not properly nuanced, but I don't see much of a difference between him saying something directly, and letting something go out on HIS show with a half-assed excuse and denial of direct responsibility. It wasn't live; he could have said "cut that" and left it on the cutting room floor. Instead, he thought it was just fine if Chelsea Clinton, 13, was called a dog on The Rush Limbaugh Show -- while he chuckled away.

Bottom line: his show, his name, he owns it and everything done on it.


hmmmmmAn utterl... (Below threshold)


An utterly pointless rebuttal over the "beyond the pale" thing... are you trying to "correct" me again? That's exactly the phrasing I used.


Some things are above the pale.


Try to maintain a shred of consistency.


Fine, I flubbed it in my re... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Fine, I flubbed it in my response to you, but got it right in the main piece. It's emblematic of where I pay more attention, and show more respect -- to the general readership.

That inspire another "hmmmmmm?"


You can try to spin and blu... (Below threshold)

You can try to spin and bluster all you want.

He didn't order it done. The 2 slides were switched. He apologized as soon as it happened and he apologized at length the next day on his radio show.

You also have no comprehension of video post-production. Saying he simply could have "cut" part of a show -with alive audience- and -before it went up on the satellite- is not exacly feasible.

Falling back on "His name is on the show" is just a silly argument. But the only one you have left.

You not only flubbed the re... (Below threshold)

You not only flubbed the response but after I pointed it out to you, you then doggedly refused to admit AND didn't even bother check to see if you made a mistake.

It's emblematic of the way you think.

I don't give two shits abou... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

I don't give two shits about the "technical challenges" involved. When it's important enough, you MAKE it happen, or you go with a rerun. Calling a 13-year-old girl a dog on national television because you don't like her parents is, to me, more than enough reason to make those extraordinary efforts.

If you disagree, that's certainly your right. Just don't get too close to me -- my nose is a bit sensitive to that kind of rank thinking.

As far as the correction... you didn't quote any kind of context. I looked back, and found first a correct use of the phrase. In other words, I put as much effort into verifying your guttersnipe as you put into making it in the first place. Later, when you were a bit clearer, I spotted it and acknowledged it.

It's called "intellectual honesty." Try applying that to your image of Rush Limbaugh, instead of your lips to his ass.


Jay - when he said that abo... (Below threshold)
Big Mo:

Jay - when he said that about Chelsea, he knew he has crossed a line and apologized for it. He even apologized to Hillary Clinton for it. I can't find a reference, but I've heard him say that a few times on his radio show over the years.

No joke.

Does that change things for you at all?

And as for Rush himself: more than anyone else, he woke me from my unthinking, sheep-like liberal comatose state in the early 1990s. He provided what my college education ultimately lacked: critical thinking. I learned through him how to question and how to use my brain instead of mere emotions. I now use reason, logic and facts in arguments when before, as a liberal, I simply "felt." Though we have not met, I count him as a friend.

>Calling a 13-year-old girl... (Below threshold)

>Calling a 13-year-old girl a dog on national television because you don't like her parents is, to me, more than enough reason to make those extraordinary efforts.

AND Jay Tea, had he called her a dog on national television you would be right.

But he didn't. And THAT is your problem.

So much for your "intellect... (Below threshold)

So much for your "intellectual honesty."

I listened to Rush in the e... (Below threshold)

I listened to Rush in the early days of Clinton, and while I found much to agree with him about, I found his style hard to listen to, and his TV show was aired too late to watch very often. It didn't matter much how I felt, however, because my work environment precluded the opportunity to listen.

With a different job, and the year 2000 in full swing, I caught Rush on the radio again one day. It was primary season, and the Republican nomination was a long way from being won. While a supporter of Steve Forbes, I knew that he had no shot at winning anything. I then supported McCain, because he was a known quantity and seemed to have integrity. Rush was discussing McCain's shortcomings, some of which I had not heard before. What Rush said intrigued me, so I kept my options open.

Then came the primaries, and the South Carolina implosion. While I don't recall all the accusations or details, I personally felt attacked by McCain when he went after evangelical Christians for getting him defeated. His reaction, along with a further examination of his views, pushed me into the Bush camp, where I have been ever since.

That being said, I think that history will show Rush to be the most powerful unelected political force the country has ever seen. And he has done it through ideas. So many on the left (and right) criticize him for his style (even I used to), but where he really shines is in elucidating the principles that make this nation great. Other than God and Karl Rove, George W. Bush has Rush to thank not only for getting him elected twice, but also with being able to get so much of the conservative agenda (other issues notwithstanding) enacted, and keeping our country safe after 9/11. Rush has been tilling the soil for many years, and brought about a homegrown revolution of new media, so that the American public becomes less hoodwinked with each passing day.

Was I surprised by Rush's outreach to Captain Ed? Not in the least. Rush has helped raise millions of dollars and awareness for the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society and other great charities. He just isn't always getting his picture taken and having stories written about him when he does. He will always have me as a fan.

If you can't stand the comm... (Below threshold)

If you can't stand the comment Rush made about Chelsea Clinton in his early days, why repeat it now?

I SAW IT when it aired.<... (Below threshold)

I SAW IT when it aired.

So did I -- and (as I remember having said here before) my memory of the incident is different from yours, Jay.

Do you remember that I commented on this matter here previously? Is your memory that good, Jay?

John F: you're absolutely ... (Below threshold)

John F: you're absolutely right. Rush Limbaugh is the most influential for the good (by far) and entertaining personality in America.

(Jay Tea, boy have you apparently been wrong on Rush Limbaugh all these years.)

Paul,AND ... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:


AND Jay Tea, had he called her a dog on national television you would be right. But he didn't. And THAT is your problem.

What are the facts? Did of didn't Rush air a photo of Chelsea after referring to the White House dog?

MacNoPaul... (Below threshold)




(google it up, You have the facts slightly wrong, Jay is just out to lunch on it)

To be fair Mac, that "no" i... (Below threshold)

To be fair Mac, that "no" is hair splitting.

It does seem like his battl... (Below threshold)

It does seem like his battle with pain killers has mellowed Rush a little bit. To reach out to Ed Morrissey like that is just a good and decent thing to do.

However, and here is where our current political discourse is so wrongheaded, would Rush provide the same support to a blogger who didn't share a similar ideology?? I don't really listen to Rush for a variety of reasons, but how did he react to Patrick Kennedy??

Tea, you're a fucking pansy... (Below threshold)

Tea, you're a fucking pansy. Join the 21st century and get over yourself. Chelsea Clinton? Good grief!

Paul,(goo... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:


(google it up, You have the facts slightly wrong, Jay is just out to lunch on it)

Sorry, I should have done that from the start. Here's what I found at this web site:

Clinton's critics have strayed from the rule on multiple occasions. Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh twice equated Chelsea to a dog:

On November 6, 1992, three days after her father won the elections, in a reference to who is moving in and out of White House, Limbaugh made a reference to Chelsea and Millie, the dog of outgoing President George H. W. Bush. At the moment where Limbaugh said "cute kid," the picture of Millie appeared onscreen. Limbaugh apologized during that show and gave a more lengthy apology a few days later.

In 1993, when Chelsea was still in braces, Rush Limbaugh said the following: "Everyone knows the Clintons have a cat; Socks is the White House cat. But did you know there is also a White House dog?" He then pointed to a video monitor, which switched to a picture of Chelsea. Although Limbaugh has claimed that it was a technical error, as Al Franken documented in his book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, since the show was on a tape delay, if it truly was a technical error, it could have been corrected prior to airing of the show.

Now I consider Franken high on the list of liars, but it seem both you a Jay agree that the show was on tape delay. The purpose of tape delay is to prevent serious errors from getting on the air. However, I believe it's the producer's or director's call to cut such content, not someone on stage for the simple reason that the delay is too short for someone who is not at the controls to intervene in time. If it was a joke by his staff, then of course they wouldn't cut it.

Where I have problems with this explanation is that there were two events and I read one piece that says there was no Whitehouse dog at the time. If that's true, and I don't know if it is, then Rush would have known there was something not straight with the story, and given the November 6, 1992 debacle, he should have been on his guard. The simpler explanation is that Rush knew exactly what was coming, but did it anyway. There's no way to know for sure.

Jay's point about personal responsibility, which is a theme of conservatives, rings true as well. People have been fired from their jobs or run out of office for such gaffs when they involve race or gender.

Whichever the case, it's irrelevant to the topic. Jay sees Rush's recent actions as redeeming and you seen to have never felt that Rush needed to be redeemed, at least not from this incident. In the end, you're both at the same place.


Wow JayTea, you really know... (Below threshold)

Wow JayTea, you really know how to hold a grudge.

You might get more sympathy for your argument if you could point to another instance where Rush has strayed beyond the bounds. If he's that bad, there must be lots of cases, after all, its only been a DECADE.

Jesus! That was 15 years ag... (Below threshold)

Jesus! That was 15 years ago! Get over it!

I heard him the next day and the week following the incident (no TV) when he apologized again and again. Actually I thought it was funny. Tastless but funny.

I don't like Rush at all for a variety of reason. But I listen to him 4 days a week. Can't do that on Monday as I shoot with the Gun Club. I even adjusted my surfing (on real waves) to listen.

He was right about the "Ports Deal", wrong about TWA800. He also lost the 2000 elections for us with his over confidense.

But I'm going shooting clays shortly and will be back in time to listen while I clean up the gunds...

It's a shame that this side... (Below threshold)

It's a shame that this side-debate has derailed the whole point of Limbaugh's recent actions...

Let's step back for a second and look at the facts.
1) Rush twice (at most) made uncalled for remarks regarding Chelsea's looks.
2) He may or may not have known in advance about it, but I think it's safe to say that it could have been edited out if Rush had wanted it. I'd find it hard to believe that he wouldn't be able to exercise creative control over his own program.
3) Each time he apologized. I recall hearing him describe a phone call he got from his mom where she chewed him out for doing it.
4) Both incidents took place within months of the 1992 election. From 1993 to 2000 no further comments were made by Limbuagh. So I think it's fair to give him credit for coming to grips with the nature of the comments.

That, to me, shows... (Below threshold)
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.
There is certainly reason to believe that he's changed.

I had a chance encounter the other day with a client from several years ago. This person had severe drug and alcohol problems, but went into recovery (again) and really worked at it. Today, this is a completely different person. It was nice to hear about what this person has been doing the last couple of years and the plans for the future.

People do change for the better.

I believe there was only ON... (Below threshold)
Malibu Stacy:

I believe there was only ONE Chelsea = dog incident, and it was on Rush's show in 1992. The Lexis-Nexis transcript confirms what Mac Lorry's link to answers.com reports above - Rush asks to see a photo of the "cute kid in the White House" and a picture of Millie the dog appears.

However, the October 1993 reference appears to have been conflated with the date of a Molly Ivins column in which Ms. Ivins misremembered the original 1992 broadcast and "transcribed" (from the script in her mind) the dialog that begins "Everyone knows the Clintons have a cat..."

It seems to me that the Ivins "White House dog" => photo of Chelsea retelling has now evolved into a phantom "second" slur, when it really is just a muddled retelling of the one and only time Rush equated her with a canid.

I've been all over Lexis-Nexis trying to find a transcript of this alleged second Limbaugh show with the dog/Chelsea discussion, but without success. If anyone can find it, I'd be grateful.

Malibu Stacy, You ... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Malibu Stacy,

You mean that Al Franken's account of the 1993 incident in his book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them is based on a myth traceable back to Molly Ivins's bad memory?

That seems almost too good to be true, but thanks for pointing it out.

Sometimes the obvious takes... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Sometimes the obvious takes a while to become obvious.

Maybe there were two Chelsea and photo of dog incidents. It could be that Jay observed one and Paul observed the other. That would explain a lot of the conflicting eye witness testimony between Jay and Paul as they could both be right.

Mac I think Stacy is correc... (Below threshold)

Mac I think Stacy is correct on that.

After I told you to google it up I did the same.. Funny thing about 1992, there was no internet as we know it today so there was no contemporaneous reports.

I saw that answers.com link, it was a cut from wikipedia. If you go to the -current- wikipedia version the "second" episode is gone. If you look at the google cache it is still there though WITH a request for citation. I was too lazy to look at the "talk" page on wikipedia but it seems clear it was "cut" from wikipedia for lack of ciatation.

Unless my memory is playing tricks, Stacy is correct.

(So for today's discussion, I'm going to dismiss the second one... Also that's not the one Jay is talking about anwyay.)

As for the top one, it is factually correct if less than complete.

He was doing his verison an "In/Out" list becasue that's was all the rage in the media at the time.

[Out: Powerboating in Kennebunkpport
In: Tubing the Arkansas river]

His "Out" was Millie the dog and "IN" was a kid in the WH. (Which we had not had since Carter)

When he called for the "OUT" slide the producer showed the "IN" slide.

Even Limbaugh's worst critics now admit it was a production error but they now whine that he should have waved a magic wand to fix it. (and Franken being a media guy knows that it is basiaclly impossible, especially with 1992 technology)

He corrected his staff on the spot, he apologised multiple times during that show and several more the next day.

To say Limbuagh "attacked" her is hyperbolic bullshit. To say Limbaugh called her a dog is the same.

(IF you're into that "intellectual honesty" thang.)

So my hair was that HE did not show any pictures. Where they shown on his show? Sure, but like all good myths, people take a grain of truth and just gotten stupid with it.

Hence this thread.

>Maybe there were two Chels... (Below threshold)

>Maybe there were two Chelsea and photo of dog incidents. It could be that Jay observed one and Paul observed the other.

Um no. I promise you Rush never called for a picture of Chelsea twice only to have them replaced by a picture of Millie both times.

That would have been off the carts.

Good posts Paul...... (Below threshold)

Good posts Paul...

"Wow JayTea, you really kno... (Below threshold)

"Wow JayTea, you really know how to hold a grudge."

No, JT is somewhat required to make a post like this every once in a while. He throws a bone to criticism, a small one at best, so he can still claim that he's really a libertarian.

Strange though, as he also seems to have "embraced the neo-con agenda."

wow, all this dithering abo... (Below threshold)

wow, all this dithering about whether chelsea clinton was called a dog by Rush Limbaugh. Lets all admit it, she was ugly as sin, and not much improved since and evidently Rush lost 1, or is it 2 listeners because of his remarks? Well Whoop-de-doo, I'm sure rush is losing lots of sleep over that one. And of course no one on the left has ever said anything that compares to that outrage other than to call for the assasaination of the President of the United States, calling our soldiers "cold blooded murderers" and attempting to make a political issue out of Jenna drinking a beer. Get over it, learn something, start listening to Rush again. Mr Limbaugh is a genius political analyst who exposes the lies of the left on a daily basis. The left attempts to marginalize Rush by saying he is just an "entertainer" but they know in their hearts he is destroying them and the American people now have the methods and means to understand the lies of the left.

Hey Paul: You sai... (Below threshold)

Hey Paul:

You said:

"So my hair was that HE did not show any pictures. Where they shown on his show?"

In the second sentence, did you mean to write Were, instead of Where? Make mistakes often, do you, Paul? Or am I being above (oops, sorry) beyond the pale? Tony

Ya gotta admit, chelsea is ... (Below threshold)

Ya gotta admit, chelsea is a real bowser even today. He might be deaf, but Rush's eye-sight is pretty good.

Just a little thought for t... (Below threshold)

Just a little thought for this Limbaugh v Chelsea Clinton thread. I was on leave in NYC and attended the actual taping of the show in question, I was the middle of the three sailors in uniform that Rush pointed out and put us on camera a time or six.
Ok, the "White House Dog" thing actually happened. The photo of Sox was on the screen, then Rush announced the 'White House Dog', and never looked at the picture projected behind him. He just sat there waggling his eyebrows at the camera in his (then) patented 'ain't I a hoot' way. Why would he do this for a picture of a dog?

As far as the 'production mistake' and not enough time to fix it thing. The Limbaugh show taped before a live audience was 90 minutes long, edited in post production to the 30 minutes uploaded to the feed THE NEXT DAY.

Oh and as for the claim that 1992 technology wasn't up to editing a television program.. Somehow shows have been edited since the 1950s...

Nice little creative touche... (Below threshold)
Clell is lying:

Nice little creative touches there, Clell. But you are completely lying through your teeth. I have to give you props for your creativity. Instead of claiming that you saw it on tv, you claim to have been in the studio audience. And claiming to have been a sailor on leave, and having Rush pointing out ot you sailors, putting you on camera several times. Nice try.

You werent there. You didnt see these events take place that you claim happened, because they didnt happen. Youre just another lyting liberal






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