Is Rush Getting Set Up To Fall?

So Rush spends three days calling Sandra Fluke a Slut (probably for telling him to f*ck off when he propositioned her – those who get laid don’t call their conquests sluts) and demanding sex tapes.

Disturbing? Very. But he had been doing this pretty much since the early nineties (if not sooner), when he was able to slip the humor of the billionaires (afflict the afflicted to comfort the comforted) into the national discussion. And since not many Liberals care enough about his show to listen for the sake of complaining about it, one would have thought that this would have passed without much comment.

Only this time it causes a heavy-duty loss of advertisers (to the point that even Free advertisers started bailing out on him). Premier Networks even went so far as to declare a two-week moratorium on advertisers on Rush’s show.

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Think of it: This guy has been comforting the comforted and afflicting and afflicted twenty-plus years. Only NOW he suffers the consequences? Over something he’s joked about for twenty years?

Maybe the folks with the real power in the American Right (Koch, et al) are finally ready to change things in Conservative Talk Radio.

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But first, let’s take a wider view of things.

Probably the one thing that has been a staple in American Political and Religious Life is that Republicans who seem to falter end up falling, and quick. One minute they’re railing against abortion and trying to bring about a system where the rich pay less tax for each dollar than the poor pay for theirs, the next moment they’re resigning their spot in tears and newer faces are fighting to take their place.

Remember The Bakers and Jimmy Swaggart? I do – preachers who ended up falling because of their sinfulness. I also remember how they discovered Newt Gingrich’s infidelities (Okay, so he was. Once a wife would come ill he’d pick her replacement) in time to clear him from the Republican leadership (and in time for 2000).

And we know, of course, of all the gay preachers and representatives who stood strong for the family until they were found out to have had “wayward desires.” All of them to the right, of course.

But understand, for every philandering preacher and gay republican officeholder that gets replaced, there’s a younger, not-quite-corrupted person who hungers for what the fallen icon seems to have had. They see the fallen, they see the opening, and they see those who have stood up to the temptations successfully and grown old in the spotlight.

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Now, on to Rush Limbaugh.

For nearly thirty years Rush has been shouting Radically Conservative ideas. He’s spouted stuff and created words and terms that have slipped into the American lexicon; and helped rewrite American English so that non-individualist/capitalist/bankist ideas have become almost incomprehensible to its speakers.

What’s interesting is that for much of the past eleven years Rush has been dodging bullets. Going deaf? He kept talking until eventually getting cochlear implants (so that he could again hear his paid callers). Oxycontin addiction? Welcome to rehab. Viagra on a trip overseas? Ignored.

So what makes Sandra Fluke different? It’s not like he’s ripped on girls for not wanting to be made barefoot-and-pregnant  – indeed, much of his appeal lay in his views on Feminism (“Feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women … access to the mainstream of society.”) and his free use of the word “Feminazi” to define anyone too liberal for him.

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Enter Mike Huckabee – an ordained Southern Baptist minister, musician (who can actually rock out), former Governor of Arkansas, presidential candidate and soon to be talk show host.

On April 9th, Mike Huckabee will go from small bits three times a day to three hours directly across from Rush Limbaugh. Already got written up by Newsweek (granted, the most liberal of the big three newsmagazines, but still…).

Huckabee is a friendly man, an honest Christian, and probably the one man who could give a friendly nudge to the right to someone who’s walled themselves from Hannity, Limbaugh, Roe Conn, Savage et al. I remember seeing a LOT of I ❤ Huckabee bumper stickers, and he had actually charmed the press. I’m not going to say I liked him, but there was definitely a lot to like about him.

Meanwhile, you have a guy in Limbaugh whose audience is not only exposed as a bit less than what it once was (never mind what it was once thought as), but has been shrinking as well. Not just from listener fatigue, but through death and other problems. And the advertisers know it.

So, when they had the perfect excuse to jump off what they perceive as a sinking ship (the Sandra Fluke fixation over three days), they jumped. Premier networks had to ban national advertisement for two weeks, just to buff their image up.

Now…add in a fresh voice, one that’s willing to listen to the other side (if nothing else, to gently tear it apart) and who already has a bunch of goodwill…and the advertisers have an alternative. Should the audience come along, don’t be surprised to find contracts broken at various stations looking for cheaper, kinder alternatives.

Also don’t be surprised at new, “kinder conservative” talk stations popping up to challenge the stallwarts. As it is, there’s already multiple conservative talk stations over various markets. The Northwest Indiana market has four stations broadcasting secular conservative talk: WLS-AM (Mainstream Conservative), WIND (For those who think WLS is for liberal pussies), WIQI-FM (Conservative talk entertainment, to ensnare women) and WJOB (Local Conservative). (Notice I said secular conservative. There’s also plenty of Religious radio in NW Indiana, all of it with its own conservative bent) Only WIQI is looking for new listeners (WLS and WIND has its core who listens 24-7, and WJOB has its own job for which its conservative views are but incidental), and its main job is filling in as a conservative, more entertaining version of WBBM.

What I’m sure the Kochs, Murdocks and others of their ilk see as their need is a talk show format that will draw younger, more skeptical people who may be more left-leaning but have yet to see the wisdom of buttressing their ideas with reason and examples. The Koches and Murdocks see an audience that could be brought in with a conservative talk that doesn’t exclude them but makes its point patiently and consistently…and before you know it, the belief system of the nation has been moved to the right without a real fight. And while they see a possibility of making a group of new stations, more likely they see a chance to renew the mainstream stations with new, fresh programming from someone already well-liked by “the enemy camp.”

And, a few broken contracts later, Rush is being replaced by Huckabee.

(Heck, look at the programming on WLS. The late night’s already been taken over by shows from Huckabee’s syndicator: The mark LEVIN show and Red Eye Radio already run from 9pm to 4am; it would take a simple addition to add the afternoon slot.)


The Anatomy of Apology

It’s been over a week since Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a slut and a prostitute (and said a whole bunch of other things over the course of days…), and while many people hope for the utter collapse of the Rush Limbaugh edifice (which started when people found out that he had been receiving pre-formatted calls since all the female “I’m a Liberal but you’re right about this…” calls that conveniently flooded his phone lines when his radio show was growing its audience in the early nineties) there are folks hoping for Rush to survive and turn out stronger than before. Rush is one of them – he has already gone on the apology path, having apologized once on Saturday and again on the Monday show.

The first thing that came to mind when hearing this was: “What is Rush expecting?”

If I’m guessing right, he expected that “I’m sorry” would call off the attack gods of the Liberals whom he had been immune to for nearly twenty years, get him back in the good graces of a goodly proportion of the advertisers who had started bolting away from him the moment Liberals actually got pissed off over something he said, and allow him to go back to his Liberal-butchering/Conservative-talking ways.

In short, Rush (like most of the United States) doesn’t know what’s involved in a true apology.

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Probably the first thing about the apology is that:

The apology is not for the “wronged person,” it’s for the apologizer.

Simply put, here’s what happens when a person apologizes: that person has worked out in his head that MAYBE it would be good to tell the “wronged other” that he/she is sorry. There’s no sign of whether the other person is wronged, whether that person would accept the apology, whether that person would WANT an apology – just a sign that the person apologizing felt the need to apologize.

This doesn’t mean you should look at every apology with a world-destroying cynicism, but it’s something one should keep in mind. If nothing else, it should balance out the liberal tendency to forgive upon hearing an apology.

The second thing about apologies is that:

The person being apologized to is not required to forgive…or forget.

The person on the receiving end of “an apology” does not have to blindly forgive the apologizer. I can think of quite a few good reasons for not forgiving the apologizer:

  • the apologizee may be waiting for more proof of sorrow
  • the apologizee may not trust said person to follow through on what the apology promises
  • the apologizee may be too scarred or remember too much to ever accept the person giving the apology
  • the apologizee may have suffered something just TOO heinous to be apologized for
  • the apologizee may judge the apology as wanting or incomplete
  • the apologizee has been apologized to before, with no change in actions (or a change to the worse)
  • the apologizee has absolutely decided against forgiving the apologizer – EVER
  • the apologizee just would rather not have to deal with the person ever again

Indeed, if a wrong is heinous enough for the wrongdoer to apologize for, it is possibly heinous enough to be unable to be apologized for. And there are indeed some wrongs for which forgiveness is DETRIMENTAL to the person doing the forgiving. And I have seen a case where a forgiving led to some severe problems for the forgivee – so severe that the person who forgave the person who wronged her died. They say she died from Cancer, but I believe she died from forgiving something that shouldn’t have been forgiven.

Now on to the third thing about apologies:

They must be followed by actions in proof of sorrow by the apologizer.

Quite simply, the person apologized to also have the right to see proof of a changed heart before they decide to forgive.

This comes from a simple observation: apologies too often are but requests for carte-blanche from the person proffering the apology:

  • “I’m sorry I bet on baseball, now let me sell baseballs and books based on this apology (Pete Rose).”
  • “I’m sorry I called you a Slut, now tape yourself so we can see our birth control dollars at work (Rush Limbaugh).”
  • “I’m sorry I beat you black and blue, Rhianna, now do a couple duets with me (Chris Brown).”

Those are the most obvious and well-known, you could probably pile on a bunch of your own, both given to you and given BY you…but you get the point.

This third point gets to a bigger issue: To apologize, you must be ready to repent. And to repent, part of it is you need to show penitence. And often that penitence includes punishment. And you may never get over the punishment if your apology is true (which is why many people NEVER apologize – why repent when no one else will allow you to benefit from the penitence?), but people will make sure you STAY punished if your apology is fake.

Another way to look at it:

  • The apology is for the person, and more to the point, the soul.
  • The penitence acts as proof to the world.

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In the time since Rush got called out for what had turned out to be a long-term fixation on Ms. Fluke’s possible sex life, he has lost [one hundred forty] sponsors. It’s gotten so bad that some folks given free space in the show called to cancel. There’s also been a couple lawsuits over music played over Rush’s fixation over the Fluke’s possible sex life.

He has also gone on to strike out at women a bit more over the past few days. A sign that his apology was more a move to shore up his position than anything that could be construed as approaching real.

(Of course, maybe the apologies may be unnecessary. Problem is, those angry at Rush and those who listen are two different audiences. If Rush holds onto that audience, we may see him come back stronger than ever, having gone through a storm and survived it.)