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IRONY!: Rush Limbaugh Edition

Yesterday, while out running errands, I caught a segment of the Rush Limbaugh program that featured the following insightful — believe it or not, I am not being ironic or sarcastic when I say “insightful” — monologue:

[I] believe that most liberals actually look at Republicans and conservatives as full-fledged, real — not just political, but real — enemies.

Enemies of what they want. Enemies of what they think is right. Real enemies. Not opponents.  Not people that are to be defeated in debate. We’re not supposed to be defeated and have people persuaded that we’re wrong.  We are to be eliminated as a legitimate opposition.  That’s Obama’s modus operandi.  Obama doesn’t want to debate anybody.  Obama doesn’t want to triumph in a contest of ideas.

He just doesn’t want there to be any opposing ideas.

If there are opposing ideas, he wants the people who hold them to be totally discredited and impugned to the point they’re all thought of as kooks and crazies and hayseeds that nobody’s gonna believe, anyway.  That’s how the left operates.  You know it and I know it. That’s why we’re so frustrated with a Republican Party trying to make peace, trying to be bipartisan, trying to go along with Democrats, trying to make them understand and like us, trying to make them understand that we’re not what they say we are.

There is no area of commonality. There’s no overlap of anything in common here.  So the idea bipartisanship I don’t even think it’s possible because we don’t have anything in common or very little on things that matter.  The radical extremists of American liberalism are running the show and are defining what is the mainstream of the American left. The radical extremists have become the mainstream, and they run the Democrat Party and everything else.

They’re not interested in winning a debate.

They’re not interested in persuading other people that they’re right.

Their whole modus operandi is to one of two things: Get rid of all opposition, or so impugn and mischaracterize people who oppose them that they’re all thought of as racists, sexists, bigots, kooks, freaks (you name it) that nobody would take seriously anyway.  They want to ban programs they don’t like. They lead boycotts, all kinds of things.  They’re not interested bipartisanship; they’re not interested in cooperation, not interested in coming to a common agreement on issue after issue after issue.

And since Obama was elected, the pretense of that is gone. There used to be a pretense that they were of that stripe, that they were interested in having civil debates and persuading people who disagreed with them that they’re right and winning mandates in that regard.  Ever since Obama’s victory, that’s all out the window. That doesn’t matter.  Now it’s just eliminate — and I don’t mean kill. I’m just talking about eliminate, as a viable opposition, anything to do or anyone that threatens them.  They are threatened — I mean, really threatened — by people that disagree with ‘em.

That constitutes a major threat to them, not a problem.

I think this analysis is partially correct. There are without a doubt elements of a “radical left” that think these terms.

What I find stunningly ironic is that every tactic Mr Limbaugh associates with radical left are ALSO tactics that he himself has helps cultivate among the conservative base on a daily basis.

In particular, I think that the phrase that particularly resonates about the radical right/conservative media complex is his penultimate paragraph:

And since Obama was elected, the pretense of [civility] is gone. There used to be a pretense that they were of that stripe, that they were interested in having civil debates and persuading people who disagreed with them that they’re right and winning mandates in that regard.  Ever since Obama’s victory, that’s all out the window. That doesn’t matter.  Now it’s just eliminate — and I don’t mean kill. I’m just talking about eliminate, as a viable opposition, anything to do or anyone that threatens them.  They are threatened — I mean, really threatened — by people that disagree with ‘em.

Kind proves that entire thing about going so far in one direction that you end up on the other side, huh? We have met the enemy, and they is us.

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About Matt Bernius
Matthew is a PhD student in Cultural Anthropology at Cornell University, researching the intersection of technology and culture. Prior to Cornell, he earned a Masters in the Social Sciences from the University of Chicago and was a visiting professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Matt started his career at Eastman Kodak, spending eight years in a variety of web development, community and content strategy roles. In his spare time (off OTB) Matt slogs (slow-blogs) on the future of reading/media, studies martial arts and self defense, and volunteers, along with his wife, at the Rochester Animal Shelter. Follow him on twitter @mattbernius.

Comments

  1. Scott says:

    Bold prediction: Not only do his regulars not call him on this, they will agree that the other side is unwilling to compromise.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 0

  2. Matt Bernius says:

    @Scott:
    Today, I caught a little bit where both he and a caller agreed that there’s no possibility of compromise with the left because:

    a. the left hates them
    b. the left is the enemy
    c. the left wants to destroy them (and America)
    d. they have nothing in common at all with anyone on the left

    I find “d” a little ironic as clearly, at least when it comes to seeing opponents as enemies, the two side apparently have a lot in common.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  3. beth says:

    I used to listen to him in the car sometimes just to see what the right was up to. After a close call one day I realized to my horror that in the event of my death in a car accident, the last voice on earth I might hear would be Rush Limbaugh’s. That turned me off of ever listening to him again. My drives are a lot happier now.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 30 Thumb down 1

  4. Moosebreath says:

    As I read once, “Irony is lost on the brassy”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  5. JohnMcC says:

    The branch of my family that lives in the mountain west is absolutely certain that they are looked down upon (despite the fact that when they get together there are four doctorate degrees at the table) because the elites on the coasts simply consider them trash from ‘fly-over-country’. That’s why they count themselves among the tea-party and get their news from Fox.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  6. gVOR08 says:

    A conservative projecting. In other news, rain is wet.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 0

  7. Jen says:

    Before I even got to the end of this I thought “we have met the enemy, and they is us.”

    Walt Kelly was a genius. My father has a fairly extensive collection of the Pogo comic strip books.

    I have nothing to say about Mr. Limbaugh’s completely unsurprising lack of self awareness.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  8. Jenos Idanian says:

    You certainly see it here. The liberal gang that infests the commentariat routinely hurl far more venom at conservatives than they do actual enemies of this nation.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 34

  9. anjin-san says:

    Lack of insight seems to be widespread on the far right. For proof of concept, see above.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0

  10. Davebo says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Perhaps it’s because you prove time and time again that you are an enemy of our country.

    I particularly love your passive aggressive approach. “I support same sex marriage but……”

    Let me guess. Some of your best friends are black right?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  11. Gustopher says:

    It’s not the conservatives that are the Enemies Of America, it’s the libertarians.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  12. al-Ameda says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    You certainly see it here. The liberal gang that infests the commentariat routinely hurl far more venom at conservatives than they do actual enemies of this nation.

    Hahahahahahaha
    Hahahahahahahahahahaha
    Hahahahahahahaahahahahahahahaha
    Hahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahaha

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 0

  13. Matt Bernius says:

    @Jen:

    I have nothing to say about Mr. Limbaugh’s completely unsurprising lack of self awareness.

    For the record, Limbaugh is fundamentally aware of what he’s doing. There’s no question of this. That isn’t to say he doesn’t believe in conservative ideals. But he knows exactly what he’s selling and he knows exactly what his audience wants.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  14. Jenos Idanian says:

    Great timing. How about a sterling example?

    There’s this guy named Sheik Abdullah bin Bayyah. He’s a leading Muslim “scholar.” In 2004, he declared that it was the duty of all Muslims to go to Iraq and kill Americans. He has raised large amounts of money for Hamas. He lobbied the UN for an international treaty forbidding the mocking of Allah and Mohammed, making it a crime in every nation. He’s repeatedly called for the killing of every single Jew in the world. He calls for the execution of gays and apostates from Islam.

    And he was a special guest at the White House earlier this month, to lobby for increased support for the Syrian rebels.

    He visited the White House on June 13, and among his hosts were National Security Advisor Tom Donilon. Shortly thereafter, Obama announced we would be arming the Syrian rebels.

    Meanwhile, for how long did Obama choose to not meet with Republican leaders of Congress? Who are, I feel I need to state, are also fellow Americans who have also won popular elections and taken essentially the same oath of office that Obama has?

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 21

  15. anjin-san says:

    @ Jenos

    And he was a special guest at the White House earlier this month

    Once upon a time, Menachem Begin was terrorist and mass murderer wanted dead or alive by our closest ally. Still, Ronald Reagan honored him at the White House.

    Sometimes this is how things work out in the real world. Sorry that reality is in conflict with your obsessive hatred of Obama.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 0

  16. anjin-san says:

    The liberal gang

    Hmm. Maybe we should have some special jackets made up for our gang.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  17. Ben Wolf says:

    @Jenos Idanian: I’d like a link to bin Bayyah’s call for murdering Americans in Iraq. Please.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  18. matt says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Quite a few of my liberal friends have either shot at or been shot at by the enemies of this country. How about you?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 1

  19. al-Ameda says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    And he was a special guest at the White House earlier this month, to lobby for increased support for the Syrian rebels.
    He visited the White House on June 13, and among his hosts were National Security Advisor Tom Donilon.

    You mean those same Syrian rebels that Republicans are urging Obama to support, all the while criticizing Obama for being overly cautious when it comes to an American commitment to support those same Syrian rebels?

    Why are Republicans supporting our enemies too?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 1

  20. OzarkHillbilly says:

    [I] believe that most liberals actually look at Republicans and conservatives as full-fledged, real — not just political, but real — enemies.

    He is right. I would shoot Really. Tell me the world would not Rush. I dare you…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  21. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Boy ….. that did not work out well. Still it ios close to my bedtime (sad… 7:07 pm is close to my bed time…. but there it is. Meanwhile the wife is watching Jungle Book.

    I can’t resist. Good night, all.

    tom

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  22. Jenos Idanian says:

    @al-Ameda: You mean those same Syrian rebels that Republicans are urging Obama to support, all the while criticizing Obama for being overly cautious when it comes to an American commitment to support those same Syrian rebels?

    Why are Republicans supporting our enemies too?

    I was unaware that there was a significant majority of Republicans pushing for Syrian intervention. Yes, there are some who agree with Obama on that, but there’s no official party position.

    And nicely done — the point wasn’t why he was there, but who he was. Not a bad diversionary attempt. Actually fell for it for a moment.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 15

  23. Jenos Idanian says:

    @matt: Quite a few of my liberal friends have either shot at or been shot at by the enemies of this country. How about you?

    “I can’t be prejudiced! Some of my best friends are veterans!”

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 15

  24. Kauf Buch says:

    SHEESH.
    It’s *not* “ironic” or “hypocritical”…which the author suggests.
    It’s merely the Right openly acknowledging that such an opponent – which does not wish to “win” with reason as much as to barbarically “crush/eliminate” *any* non-conformance - must itself be countered with the *only* tools and language it understands.
    OR: would this author suggest we should have asked Hitler to quietly sit down for a cup of tea and ask pretty please to stop going into other countries…because “we’re better than they are”?!?
    SUICIDAL NAIVETE.
    That’s all this author seems to suggest.
    PHHHT!

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 16

  25. Ed in NJ says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    There is your true irony. Limbaugh accuses liberals of looking down on conservatives, yet he treats his own audience like rubes and idiots by broadcasting his idiocy every day.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0

  26. merl says:

    I expected that to be a diatribe about the gays destroying the sanctity of marriage. Coming from a man on his fourth marriage.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  27. beth says:

    @merl: But it’s the right kind of marriage. Since it’s the right kind, the more the merrier!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  28. Scott O says:

    @Kauf Buch: Relax my friend. We don’t to put conservatives in camps and starve them to death, we just want to eliminate them by denial of medical services via Obamacare. Heil Obama!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  29. Rick Almeida says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Please post your methodology and complete dataset comparing liberal and conservative vitriol so we can discuss your work.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  30. bill says:

    thx matt for admitting you listened to rush, i haven’t seen/heard him in years despite the rhetoric that republicans all follow him. the big difference between rush and obama is that rush is a talk radio host, obama is (allegedly) a world leader. democratic leaders are supposed to “lead”, not “dictate”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 13

  31. Caj says:

    Rush Limbaugh is a mouthpiece millionaire. He spews forth the biggest load of crap but he plays to an audience who have limited thought process. His listeners don’t want to think, they want to be led and led they are by this bloviated piece of garbage. Such is their naivety about this man they believe every word he says. All the while he’s laughing all the way to the bank thanks to these easy to please, low information voters! None so blind than those who cannot see! That about sums up all the listeners of Rush Limbaugh.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  32. bill says:

    @Caj: you could say the same for bill mahars drones.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 8

  33. Matt Bernius says:

    @bill:

    you could say the same for bill mahars drones.

    That’s the larger point. When people on either side fundamentally believe that the other side isn’t worthy of any respect, they begin to act in exactly the way that they accuse their opponents of acting.

    What is unfortunate, in either case, is that those people don’t see the irony that they are ending up describing their own behavior as well. It’s not that one side is right and one is wrong.

    BOTH ARE THE PROBLEM.

    That’s the point. Anyone who has listened to Rush Limbaugh’s program (or any conservative media) should recognize that everything he say’s about the “radical left’s” tactics are things he does every day on his program. He has never been interested in debate. Instead he always states that his/conservatives views are always *right* and there’s no need to seriously consider what any left wing loon is saying.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4

  34. Andrew E. says:

    @bill: It’s amazing how often Maher gets put up there as some sort of liberal Limbaugh equivalent, a guy who’s on a pay cable channel for one hour 12 or so weeks a year with conservative guests.

    Bottom line is Limbaugh says this stuff 3 hours a day 5 days a week 52 weeks a year minus vacations. So does Beck, Hannity, Savage and an army of other right-wing talkers. It’s pure undiluted poison injected into the system and it’s helping to rip this country apart. You want to find some liberal equivalency? It certainly exists but it terms of volume and popularity it’s nothing like Limbaugh and if you think the “Liberal Media” is some the flip side of the same coin you’re nuts. And if you think Obama is some sort of Muslim communist dictator looking to destroy the country you’ve bought into the bullshit. It’s disgusting and disheartening.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  35. al-Ameda says:

    @bill:

    you could say the same for bill mahars drones.

    Not the “both sides do it” meme … again? There is little equivalence between Rush’s dittoheads and Mahar’s make that Maher’s so-called drones, and it goes back to how each guy presents himself and his show to the public. Rush has a daily show and mis ratings dwarf Maher’s and everyone else in the competing market. Maher has a weekly show on cable … enough said. Also, Rush has zero respect for and zero interaction with his political opposition, while Maher routinely has conservative guests on his show – on every one of his shows – and allows them to speak, and have a civil consersation. Maher’s so-called drones are nowhere nearly as vituperative and insular as Rush’s dittoheads.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  36. Tillman says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    That’s the larger point. When people on either side fundamentally believe that the other side isn’t worthy of any respect, they begin to act in exactly the way that they accuse their opponents of acting.

    Which, funny enough, reduces the amount of respect they get. It’s a neat little spiral from then on, and eventually they’re marginalized so much as to be essentially voiceless in political discourse; picture your old racist uncle.

    The problem, for me, is that once you accord them respect after a certain point in the spiral, it doesn’t ameliorate their views. It just reinforces them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  37. Kylopod says:

    @bill:

    you could say the same for bill mahars drones.

    Not really. Besides the fact that Maher isn’t anywhere near as popular on the left as Limbaugh is on the right, the idea that his listeners accept everything he says is laughable. If you asked the average Maher fan, you’d probably find them admitting to disagreeing with him on many things. After all, while Maher is definitely a liberal, he isn’t doctrinaire, and in fact he seems to enjoy playing the contrarian (he claims to have voted for Bob Dole in ’96; he endorsed Bush’s Social Security privatization scheme; he supports racial profiling in airports; I could go on). I get the sense that many people watch his show as much for the guest lineups as for what Maher has to say. Going back to Politically Incorrect days, his shtick has been to throw entertainers together with “serious” people, trying to get the entertainers to rise to the occasion and the serious people to lighten up a bit. And he regularly gets conservatives to appear on his program to debate him and the liberal guests, whereas Limbaugh encases himself in a self-congratulating cocoon.

    None of this is to suggest Maher is some wonderful, enlightening commentator. I do agree he often says things that are offensive (and not just to conservatives). He’s easily one of the most aggressive and uncivilized of popular liberal commentators. But that just goes to show how unbalanced the matter is: he may be the closest thing on the left to the Limbaughs, Hannitys, Becks, Coulters, Savages, Levins, and on and on and on and on who dominate talk radio and Fox “News” 24/7 (as opposed to one hour a week)–but that’s because you’re comparing the left’s exception with the right’s rule. And even then it doesn’t quite compare. You’re grasping at straws.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  38. bill says:

    @Andrew E.: well it sucks that “air America” crashed and burned as it was an “admitted “liberal radio company. the reason they died off was that the mainstream media is already tilted to the left and the pool was too crowded. i bounce back between npr and whatever talk radio is on the am station- if i don’t want to listen to music while driving to work. i don’t listen to either when home unless i remember dennis miller’s on. at least he’s funny and not a far right/left anything.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  39. Dazedandconfused says:

    Periodically people seem to forget the Pandora’s Box of settling disputes by violence, how thin the veneer of civilization is, and how difficult it can be to re-establish. Maybe because their immediate predecessors were of a generation that had either direct knowledge or a collective memory still retained from their predecessors, and their actions, viewed shallowly, tend to be so well-scrubbed of any mention of that option. They are not scrubbed because they have forgotten that option, they are so scrubbed because escalation/mobilization cycles tend to snowball very quickly. Without that fear, abandoning civil discourse becomes tempting, and the cycle repeats –for the survivors.

    What seems to our eyes today to be excessive courtesy in the writings of people in the dueling era does not reflect weakness, it reflected the real violence but an inch away.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  40. Pinky says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    The liberal gang that infests the commentariat routinely hurl far more venom at conservatives than they do actual enemies of this nation.

    The thing that Matt left out was that Limbaugh was responding to a survey that found that 26% of Obama supporters considered the Tea Party to be the greatest terror threat against the US. So it’s pretty much exactly what you just said. Now, I’ve made the comment before, that some people will always choose the most partisan possible answer on a survey whether they believe it or not. Still, that’s gross.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  41. Barry says:

    @JohnMcC: “The branch of my family that lives in the mountain west is absolutely certain that they are looked down upon (despite the fact that when they get together there are four doctorate degrees at the table) because the elites on the coasts simply consider them trash from ‘fly-over-country’. That’s why they count themselves among the tea-party and get their news from Fox. ”

    Then they’re just a set of data points implying that one can have a doctorate, and still be pretty f-ing stupid.

    Or more likely, they’re simply lying. They want an excuse, and like Rush, truth is not something that they care about.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  42. Matt Bernius says:

    @Pinky:

    The thing that Matt left out was that Limbaugh was responding to a survey that found that 26% of Obama supporters considered the Tea Party to be the greatest terror threat against the US.

    I left it out for a few reasons.

    The first is that while it was the introduction to this monologue, my point was that everything Limbaugh accuses the left of doing in this monologue he (and other right wing talkers like Hannity, Beck, Savage, etc) have been doing for years as well. And if you tune in on any other day to his program, you’ll here him say exactly the same things about the “left” that he does here.

    So from that perspective, the content stands outside of the context.

    I also opted not to include the survey information also because I was interested in discussing the content of the quote versus the survey itself (details on it can be found here).

    I had considered blogging about the survey, but I don’t have access to the full report. And as a general rule, with any survey, if I can’t see all the data, I don’t want to go near it. Plus, given Rasmussen’s overall political leanings, when they publish something that makes the other side look “bad” I really want to see all the numbers.

    Now, I’ve made the comment before, that some people will always choose the most partisan possible answer on a survey whether they believe it or not. Still, that’s gross.

    Given that the question involved “terrorism” versus a general “threat”, I agree with you that some of the “tea party” answers were probably a sign of frustration with the pollster.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  43. Pinky says:

    @Matt Bernius: That’s a reasonable explanation, but I think you can understand my reaction. And does Limbaugh accuse the Left of being the greatest source of terror against the US? The greatest problem, maybe. Not strong enough against terror, maybe. More prone to violence than the Right when gathered in a mob, definitely. But not the greatest source of terror. So Limbaugh isn’t guilty of the same thing as his critics in this case.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0