OpinionJournal has a reasonable take on the Rush Limbaugh prescription painkiller controversy:

All the facts are not yet in, but it strikes us that what people are really waiting to see is whether he will take the consequences of his actions like a man.


But it’s worth detailing what Mr. Limbaugh has not done. He has not expressed outrage at leaks about a criminal investigation. He hasn’t sent his wife out to accuse critics of manufacturing the thing out of whole cloth. He hasn’t attacked the housekeeper who sold her story to the National Enquirer. And so on.

As for the rest of us, there have always been two ways to read the parable about the woman caught in adultery and not casting the first stone. The first is to argue that standards simply don’t matter. The other way–the way it has been read for 2,000 years–is to remind us that we are all human, fallen creatures.

We’re fairly sure we know which reading President Bush was taking when he called Mr. Limbaugh a “great American” and said he hoped he would “overcome any obstacles.” After all, this is a President who not too long ago fought a drinking problem. The accusations about abusing pain-relieving drugs are more serious because they point to breaking the law, and they hurt not only Mr. Limbaugh but the millions of those who looked to him for better. It does not excuse anything he may have done to say America will not know the full measure of the man until we see how he responds.

Sounds about right.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. 42nd SSD says:

    The comment about Rush’s drug problem being more serious than a drinking problem because he’s “breaking the law” is a little off.

    An addiction problem is an addiction problem. I’d bet real money Rush didn’t wake up one day and decide “hey, today’s a great day to get addicted to Oxycodone”. It never works that way, especially if he was initially taking the painkillers under a doctor’s care. It could’ve happened to anyone, and does happen far too often.

    There’s a huge difference between Rush getting trapped in a self-medication loop and someone voluntarily making the decision to start using illicit drugs. The end result is pretty much the same, granted, but the process that gets someone there is quite different.

    Once someone really gets hooked it’s amazing what they’ll go through to continue the habit, laws or no laws. Addicts have committed murder in order to get $100 worth of heroin.

    Rush’s mistake of self-medicating was further complicated by our society’s attitude toward addiction, that somehow he’s a weak person because he couldn’t stop. (It’s pretty likely he also has some negative personality traits that didn’t help either.) Unfortunately it’s not so much a slippery slope as a steep cliff, and once you decide to continue using painkillers on your own it’s pretty much all over–“It’ll be just one more”, ad infinitum.

    Because of his public stature, it would’ve been that much harder for him to get any real help. It’s likely his career will suffer because of the revelations, but anything he might’ve done to help himself would probably have had much the same effect.

    I’m not a Rush fan, but I think he deserves a bit of a break on this one. It will be interesting to see how he handles it going forward.