Rush Limbaugh combines news, commentary, satire, music, and an eclectic sampling of listener opinion for a highly successful three hour daily radio broadcast. His program is syndicated throughout Northern America and via the Internet abroad, currently reaching Baltimoreans on Radio 680, WCBM.
Limbaugh hitched a bumpy ride to success. He often recounts early career struggles, various firings, and syndication drops, taking care to remind listeners if they want something badly enough they will have to work for it, as he did, with slings and arrows along the way. His show wasn't always popular. At one point he ventured into television, suffering a low ratings cancellation. Likewise, an incredibly short stint as an NFL commentator nearly ended his career. Limbaugh stood his ground. Loyalty from fans and people in high places saw him through. The man bounces back from rough patches like a rubber band.
Limbaugh is not afraid to speak his mind, a rare quality in today's political and entertainment circles. Love him or leave him, he is who is. He's also not afraid to take chances. Disagree if you will, but there's something admirable about the combination of these symbiotic traits. Periodically, they land him in hot water. Today's program may qualify as such a time.
We caught him playing a political parody with another unauthorized musical accompaniment. I say another because his theme song was once unauthorized. Musical artists opposing his politics, refusing to grant licensing rights despite his money being green like everyone else's and Chrissie Hynde was no exception. They eventually reached an amicable settlement, Limbaugh now supporting PETA's crusade to prevent cruelty to animals in exchange for a notable guitar riff.
There I was, LMFAO as Limbaugh slyly explained the licensing problems with this particular parody, airing it anyway because to paraphrase him, "No one bothers to listen for that kind of stuff any more." At that moment, the phone lines of a certain Hollywood agency lit up like a fireworks display with calls from frenemies monitoring his program, I'm sure. Still, the moment was total Rush-worthy and well worth the price of any fallout.
And that, in a nutshell, is the reason I remain a loyal fan.
As I've explained before, Limbaugh and I disagree on so many different political issues I wouldn't know where to begin. If I wanted to listen to someone with whom I generally agree, I'd tune into The Daily Show (I actually am a fan of The Daily Show but find nothing controversial to write about, hence these frequent diatribes against talk radio).
Limbaugh is not only informative, he's also thoroughly entertaining in large part because he is who he is. Deriving from his unique persona, his success cannot be duplicated, though many will admit they have tried. Change him and you lose the formula. This fundamental fact was completely lost on feisty Jennifer from Denver, Colorado, the "Caller of the Day."
Mind you, "Caller of the Day" is my own moniker as the show has no such designation.
At first I couldn't believe Jennifer had made it past Snerdly or whoever screened calls this afternoon. Maybe she lied about her topic or summarized it in a less offensive manner. Limbaugh rarely connects with people trying to chastise him on his own program, often ending such calls in an aggressive cursory manner before any real dialogue ensues.
Jennifer's call immediately caught me off guard. Clearly, she wanted to label Limbaugh a sexist pig and accuse his backwards politics of giving her high blood pressure. According to Jennifer, listening to the program had caused her to become ill and her doctor had suggested she stop. Nonetheless, as evidenced by the call, she could not stop herself from tuning in. Limbaugh asked if she secretly wanted to commit suicide. I am not making this up.
Oh brother, I can see it now. Death by Limbaugh becomes a new cause of action. Could Jennifer be contemplating a lawsuit?
No, Jennifer pitched her call with this intro thinking Limbaugh would try to plug his program. To his credit, he suggested the perfect antidote.
Laughably, his response threw Jennifer for a loop. She completely lost her bearings, then clawed her way up off the mat for another round.
I wish I had a pipeline to Jennifer from Denver, Colorado. Who knows, maybe one day she will surf into this site and somehow read this very article. It could happen, right?
Don't start laying odds in Vegas.
Okay, it's ludicrous fantasy. But then so is Jennifer's misguided effort to change a man who can't help relating to women in a manner that went out of style in the 1950's. Limbaugh is indeed a sexist misanthrope who believes it's a man's world where women shouldn't tread. So what? Believe it or not, it's part of his charm.
Limbaugh is sexist but in a jovial way. Last week I heard him commending some Hardball "babe," a GOP Congresswoman standing toe to toe with Chris Mathews and some other "blowhard" on their assessment of George Dubya. It was amusing really, hearing him fawn over this woman's ability to silence detractors. If Congresswoman Whoever ran for president in Hillary's place, I think Limbaugh might help vote her in. At least it seemed that way on the surface. Hard to tell when listening in the car.
Back to Jennifer. Until a preponderance of women have control over men's traditional stomping grounds -- corporate board rooms, financial markets, media outlets, the Supreme Court, Congress, the White House, and the like -- until women successfully run these places, don't expect sexist attitudes like Limbaugh's to change any time soon.
Women like Jennifer probably don't understand that for such an unlikely event to happen, men must be willing to assume more responsibility as caretakers. I mean, who's going to raise our children? Subservient nannies? How will that ever level the playing field?
I'm sorry, but if there's anything I've learned from the feminist revolution it's that women cannot have it all. Often, the choice comes down to building a successful career or producing successful children. Sadly, too many women are adept at neither.
Take it from someone who knows, trying to change ingrained sexist beliefs is a waste of time. No matter what women say, no matter what they do, no matter how much they lighten up, in the eyes of sexists they will never be equal.
Rather than fight the misogynist Rush Limbaughs of the world, women should use their existing power to effect change. Women can wipe out sexism by channeling their power as caretakers. We can change the status quo by instilling proper feminist attitudes in our sons. And if we don't have sons, by influencing those who do.
Require boys to help with chores around the house. They can set the table, wash and dry the dishes, and do laundry just as well as girls, if not better. Teach them the importance of respect. Show them how to care for our infants. Bring them along when we care for our parents. Model appropriate give and take with our spouses and significant others. Stand strong and proud for our own rights in the face of discrimination. Whenever possible, emphasize evidence of women as different but equal.
One boy at a time, the world will change. It's starting to already.
Just not fast enough for dear Jennifer.
Update: The Limbaugh website posted a transcript of Jennifer's call, noting "links to outside content usually become inactive over time." For that reason, I am reprinting the transcript here, hopefully with the implicit approval of Mr. Limbaugh.
RUSH: Colorado Springs, Jennifer. You're next on the EIB Network. Great to have you here.
CALLER: Well, Rush, you might change your mind about that. I'm kind of angry. All these accolades that you're receiving are literally making me sick. And, in fact, my doctor, believe it or not, actually may be tongue-in-cheek, but wrote me a prescription for lowering my blood pressure. And that is, is that I listen at your program as infrequently as possible because in reality you are the one who believes that you are The Messiah, not Obama, and what's more, you're very sexist, you're very sexist. You think that the Democrats are sexist and racist. You are absolutely the epitome of sexism. You want to know why I think that?
RUSH: Not really, because you're wrong. I don't like to hear people tell me why they believe something when they're dead wrong. If you're really suffering high blood pressure, why are you even listening?
CALLER: Well, maybe I'm a masochist and I can't help myself, I don't know.
RUSH: I don't think that's what it is. I think you're constantly enraged and angry, and you need reasons to stay that way, and --
CALLER: I'll tell you why --
RUSH: -- I fill the bill.
CALLER: -- I'm constantly enraged, because every day it seems that you find a way by innuendo or any other means to put women down.
RUSH: It's not by innuendo, I do it directly. I put down liberals. If they happen to be women, I put 'em down. There's no innuendo about it.
CALLER: Can I give you an example of your direct comments?
RUSH: I'd love to hear.
CALLER: Do you recall your comment, I think it was about three months ago, you were talking about Hillary when she was running against Obama. You said that women are trying to move into a man's world. If you had said that about Obama or a black person, you'd be off the air now, you'd absolutely be off the air --
RUSH: Wait a second, why would I be off the air if I'd accused Obama of moving into a man's world?
CALLER: No, listen, if it were the same thing, if you accused Obama of moving into a white man's world, you would be off the air.
RUSH: Oh, oh. That would never even occur to me. There are black politicians all over the country, as there are female politicians, but the presidency up 'til now has been a man's world.
CALLER: Okay, you're not doing anything to change that.
RUSH: What's the big deal? Hillary puts her pants on one leg at a time like all the other guys do.
RUSH: Why are you bothered by this?
CALLER: See, "like all the other guys do"?
CALLER: This is something I've been wanting to ask you for a long time.
RUSH: Ask away.
CALLER: Why is it that you always call Hillary Clinton Mrs. Clinton, and you never give her the respect of calling her Senator Clinton? Are you trying to demean her?
RUSH: I do call her Senator Clinton sometimes.
CALLER: I listen to you practically every day, which is why I have high blood pressure, and I have never heard you --
RUSH: You know, you need to go take a test. There's something not right here about you, Jennifer.
CALLER: Well, what's not right about you is I think you're insecure --
RUSH: No, no, no -- Jennifer, I'm trying -- Jennifer, please, I'm trying to help you --
CALLER: How many women have rejected you, Rush?
RUSH: Women love me, Jennifer, you had better get used to this.
CALLER: -- and this is your way of leveling the playing field.
RUSH: I don't believe a playing field can be leveled, Jennifer, see, I am based in reality. But Jennifer, my concern for you is that you may die listening to this program from high blood pressure, and you can turn it off. You may be committing a slow form of suicide here on purpose. That's not right.
CALLER: Hm-hm. I know it. I know it. I don't always listen to my doctor, either, so, you know, I don't listen to you --
RUSH: You're a woman. You don't listen to men, period.
CALLER: Uh-huh. Well, men don't listen to women, so there's equality right there.
RUSH: I've listened to everything that you've said.
CALLER: Uh-huh. And you've had sexist reaction to it, too. I enjoy it. This is my first opportunity to talk to you. I'm really happy I got through. I really am.
RUSH: Well, I'm glad you did, too. But I'm worried.
CALLER: Could I say one more thing? I'm in the Colorado Springs area, but I listen to KOA radio in Denver, and you are a topic of conversation almost daily and women are calling in and talking about your sexism and the phenomenon of your Dittohead women calling in and treating you as if they love you, following your sexist remarks. It doesn't make sense.
RUSH: I'll tell you, the real sexism in this country was on display in the Democrat primaries, and it was aimed at Mrs. Clinton by Democrats. The real racism in this country was on display in the Democrat primaries aimed from the Clintons to Obama. I helped Hillary Clinton. Operation Chaos. I kept her in the race. If you listen to this program as often as you say, you would know that I did everything I could to help her, and did. Operation Chaos was so important it's now the subject of academic study. Jennifer, I appreciate the phone call. I'm glad you waited and you got through, too. But I am worried. You're the first caller ever who has admitted you're a masochist. This is unhealthy. I think you need to lighten up a little bit. What you think is sexism is simply me poking fun at liberals, which of course that has been taboo for a long time. But I must go because it's time for a windfall profit time-out. Be back right after this. Stay with us.
RUSH: Jennifer, if you are still out there in Colorado Springs listening on KOA, you might be interested in this story today. It looks like it's from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Hillary Clinton's newest tactic to pay off her remaining campaign debt involves 'dinner under the stars.' Clinton's campaign launched a contest -- contributors are automatically entered -- and the grand prize is a dinner for you and a guest with Clinton herself. 'This is my first chance to sit down and spend some real one-on-one time with you. If you enter today, we could be having dinner together soon!'" she said in an e-mail. There is a second prize, and that is you get to have two dates with Hillary. Just kidding.
Update II: The virtual Limbaugh Museum is up and running. Entry hall plays Limbaugh's guitar riff theme song. Worth the price of admission.