Book of the Month

Ramona's picture

What's so Funny about Rush Limbaugh?

As I write this my sense of humor is intact and waiting, as always, for something funny to happen.  I can get tickled at the least little thing--adorable babies and clumsy dogs and tripping on sidewalk cracks--and I can howl at even the worst, god-awful jokes.  I can't explain them and I've never been able to repeat them with any kind of comedic skill, but I know funny when I hear it.

I can say without even having to think about it that I've never laughed at a thing Rush Limbaugh has said or done.  I don't get him.  His performances are like those of a mean, out-of-control drunk who thinks everything coming out of his mouth is either hilarious or golden.  He begins every riff quietly, taking his time, pausing, letting his words sink in, and builds to an awesome, wiggly, crazed crescendo.  Oh, my God.  Electrifying to dittoheads and the uninitiated.  Wow!  But to those of us who have been exposed to his antics for decades, they're nothing more than the usual carefully calculated theatrics.  Ho hum.

That's what makes his latest rantings against a Georgetown University law student fighting her college's policies on insuring birth control aids so mystifying.  His initial comments about this young female student were so breathtaking in their vile putridity, the reactions against them were, at last,  refreshingly awesome and swift.  Hundreds of thousands of people protested his words.  Even his usual defenders could be seen slinking away from the ten-foot pole they wouldn't use to touch them.  Yes!  Limbaugh is a pariah!

So did he finally stop and think about what he had said and realize he'd overstepped?  The woman he so viciously word-raped was a young college student and not a politician or a public figure. She was not fair game and she was not a joke.  But no, he didn't.  He was so sure of his base, so sure of the politicians in his thrall, so sure that his advertisers would be too busy counting their money to notice, he came back the next day and attacked this same young woman again.  This time he demanded videos of her sex acts.

His politicians, true to form, gave out some half-hearted hand smacks, reminding us that he's an entertainer, not a Republican spokesman--as if he's only pretending to be one because he'd slept at a Holiday Inn once.

At last count, seven of Rush's sponsors have dropped him, at least for the moment, until all the fuss dies down.  Dozens of petitions are still making the rounds, working to gain enough signatures to pressure all of his backers to leave him helpless and wiggling on his own.  It took all of that for Rush to give an inch and release an odd written statement that, considering who it is from and how rare those things are, coming from him, some might take to be an apology.

A Statement from Rush
March 3, 2012

For over 20 years, I have illustrated the absurd with absurdity, three hours a day, five days a week.  In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.

I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress. I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities. What happened to personal responsibility and accountability? Where do we draw the line? If this is accepted as the norm, what will follow? Will we be debating if taxpayers should pay for new sneakers for all students that are interested in running to keep fit?  In my monologue, I posited that it is not our business whatsoever to know what is going on in anyone's bedroom nor do I think it is a topic that should reach a Presidential level.

My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir. I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.

"I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke."  Really?  How would you go about attacking someone if you DID mean it?

In Rush Limbaugh's 24 years on the air he has apologized six times for the things he's said that backfired.  BuzzFeed has put them all together here.

In 1988 he called Amy Carter "The most unattractive presidential daughter in the history of the country", and "apologized".

In 1992 he called Chelsea Clinton "the White House dog" and "apologized", blaming his crew for confusing him by mixing up pictures of Chelsea and the Clinton's dog.

In 1996 he made fun of Michael J. Fox, saying he either didn't take his medication on purpose or he was faking it when he appeared in a commercial for Claire McCaskill.  In his "apology" he said, "All I'm saying is I've never seen him as he appears in that commercial. . ."

In 2008 he compared then-Senator Obama to Curious George and in his "apology", threatened to fire the caller who brought it up, ha ha, saying he never knew Curious George was--Gosh!--a monkey.

This is not to say that Rush has never said stupid, hateful, racist, misogynistic things before.  Oh, he has, and plenty.  That's apparently part of his appeal, God help us.

So think of it.  One of the wealthiest, most famous entertainers in America right now is a stupid, hateful, racist, misogynistic radio personality who broadcasts a show three hours a day, five days a week highlighting his own peculiar, insulting, disrespectful brand of humor.  Millions of seemingly sane listeners adore him and are honored to align themselves with him.

In many dark parts of our nation he is paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to deliver a one-hour speech to friendly packed houses, mirroring the stupid, hateful, racist, misogynistic rantings direct from his incredibly popular radio show

He is so successful, grown politicians fear him more than they loathe him and cannot bring themselves to denounce a man who, underneath all that bluster, is a weak-kneed coward.

He will not debate or answer to anyone.  His radio callers are screened so no one can ever dispute anything he says.  He won't make public appearances in places where people who disagree with him might be in attendance.  He has never appeared on a program where he might be asked hard questions.  He attacks women and children and the handicapped with impunity and laughs along with his audience at the outraged responses.

He is a monster in the eyes of most normal human beings, and so I ask this question in all seriousness:

What is so goddamned funny about Rush Limbaugh?

(Cross-posted at Ramona's Voices)

What's funny to his fans is how we react.  These people live to tick off liberals.  You see it just surfing the web, should you ever point your browser towards a conversative Web site and its outdated banner ads exhorting you to buy something from Ann Coulter or Michelle Malkin because it will "annoy a liberal," or "piss off a liberal."

They do this because they have decided to believe that we are excitable and risible.  Some of this stems from the political correctness debates of the 90s, by the way, where our side did say and do some silly things.

Of course, this whole vein of humor comes right from the 90s, when the right went to war with us, trying so desperately to knock our decidedly moderate president out of the White House no matter how many darned elections the Big Dog won.

If you ask a Limbaugh style conservative about their "sense of humor" they will tell you that liberals don't have one but that anything goes on the right.  Never mind that we have all the good comedians (who do they have?  Dennis Miller?) and that they are the types who are scandalized by F bombs or breasts on TV.  We're uptight but they can't discuss the pill without tittering and making jokes.

Anyway, I'm just riffing but I think the answer is that they think they're legitimately hurting our feelings and making us angry and they like to do that.  They really want to make us feel bad for having ideas that they don't share.

For the most part, I don't think they get what they want.  Liberals are not, ultimately, thrown into wailing fits of rage over this.  But it doesn't matter.  It's all in the heads of Rush's audience.  They imagine that they are making us suffer and feel stupid and so for them, it's true.

There are still plenty of excitable liberals, as the furor to Limbaugh's comments demonstrate. That is not say that the furor (including Mona's beautiful take-down) is unwarranted, but warranted or not, its existence is sufficient to please Limbaugh's audience and attract new listeners.

Limbaugh is like a fat, grown-up, political version of Judd Nelson's character in the Breakfast Club. He's deliberately trying to offend people--the teacher, the popular kids, the geeks--in order to get a reaction. But instead of being a loner, Limbaugh's got a whole swarm of admirers who love his shtick.

Generally, he tries to offend just enough to piss everyone off without getting thrown in detention. This time, he went too far. But whatever, he is hardly suffering from the extra attention.

Thanks, Genghis.  While I do understand how meaningless and even counterproductive it often turns out to be when we libs rise up and show our outrage, I'm a real believer in the force of numbers.  Why am I a believer?  Because Rush Limbaugh wouldn't be where he is without the force of numbers.  Powerful politicians wouldn't be kowtowing to him without the force of numbers.  Sarah Palin would never have gotten as far as she has without the force of numbers. 

Ditto OWS.  Ditto Barack Obama.

Petitions are suddenly blossoming everywhere, especially on the net, and "signatures" by the hundreds of thousands are passed along and are making an impact.  Minds have been changed by virtual signatures on impromptu petitions.  Bills have been scrapped. 

Boycotts are working and advertisers are getting scared.  It's happening and it's because of the force of numbers.

The blogosphere, using blogrolls and social networking to their full advantage, is a relatively untapped resource for building high enough numbers to make a difference.  I used to hesitate about writing a post when there were already so many others on the same topic, but I feel differently now.   Five like-minded posts on the same subject might not make a dent, but a hundred can't help but be noticed.

At this point, I don't think any one of us is thinking about how the other side might use what we say against us or about what laughs we're giving them.  I think we're more concerned with building our numbers to giant size because giants cannot be ignored.

I believe that Rush is done.  Women everywhere will not let him get away with what he has done to one of our own.

 

 

Don't get me wrong. I think that public condemnation, when widespread, forceful, and sustained, can make a difference. It worked on Joe McCarthy, Robert Welch, and Glenn Beck.

But it will take a lot more than this. Limbaugh has passed through worse with few enough scars to show for it.

PS His audience is about 70 percent male

Nope. He's done. Fork time.

I am waiting for someone to point out that rush expected us to pay him to take drugs via HIS insurance plan, and when we didn't pay him enough to take drugs, he went out and (gasp!) bought them on the street....

I wonder if his rehab was covered.

I watched this young comedian on the Comedy Channel at two AM by accident sometime last week.

He just blew me away. He took me back to the fifties and sixties in white suburbia.

He and his buddy walk into this bar/cafe and go right to the Juke box in the corner.

You get three plays for a dollar so they threw seven bucks in and punched in What's New Pussy Cat 20 times. After the seventh play, It's Unusual was played.

So I am laughing so hard....So he opines that by the end of the second play, the customers were all thinking: Jeeeez this is a long song. hahahaha

When It's Unusual came on, there was kind of a sigh of relief.

By the tenth play, somebody just pulled the plug. hahaaaha

You already know Ramona that I have written scores of blogs on rush. I still manage to squeeze in some latest quote in my posts, but...

Limbaugh's latest rants (before Fluke--Fluke shall remain an American Idiom for decades to come in my humble opinion) revolved around the First Lady's butt. And like I noted weeks ago here was an economically fat, physically fat and morally thin prick attacking one of the best First Lady's we have had since Hillary.

His attacks on feminazis (which is one reason I call him a NAZI whenever I can) have gone on for decades. Four wives and no kids and no commitment and no honor and no respect and no logic for decades.

Remember Cync? He is on Current now and he claims the ratings of the rush radio shows could not possibly consist of the numbers he claims for viewers.

That is really all I got.

The problem with rush is that he plays the same song over and over and over again and now it is reported that 9 advertisers across the nation have pulled the plug on the rush machine including AOL!

the end

Rush is not funny, congrats for the observation. He is a Republican mover and shaker, and leader of the Party, and there are no decent people in that category. Limbaugh provides the malevolent poison his 'hateful, racist, misogynistic' listeners used to get by other means.

The advertisers will eventually be back. In America the dollar always wins, 'hateful, racist, misogynistic' people in the US are still a big segment of the market.

Well, Ramona, I think you're one of those people who doesn't think that yelling foul words out of a passing car is funny. But there are clearly carsful of people, lots of them young men, who find that kind of thing high-larious.

Rush Limbaugh works the same way. His audience laughs because he says aggressive, socially-taboo things that they don't dare to say under most circumstances, and they experience that transgression as a vicarious release. If you were very angry at women every day and unable to express that anger toward them fully, you would feel restricted by our "feminazi" social mores, and feel liberated when Limbaugh let out the bullying rage that you couldn't.

So, you don't get Limbaugh because you're well adjusted, and because you don't resent women, minorities, and everyone else unlike you. And you're right: it's not funny at all.

Oh, yeah!  Four of us, all women, were in my car stopped for a light in Detroit when we heard a horn honking next to us.    We looked over and saw two fat moons smashed flat against a car window, and that car was rocking, the guys inside were laughing so hard.  That was probably 20 years ago but every time I think about it I get the giggles.  So, okay, I get what you're saying.  lol. 

Those guys weren't being hateful, they were being high-larious.  Okay, nobody's hurt.  Move along.

I think you're being way too easy on Rush's mob.  WHY are they very angry at women every day?  What have women in general done to them that would warrant such vicious hatred?  I submit it's not their own innate feelings that initially draw them to Rush.  I agree that it's seductive to follow the bully, but listening to a misogynistic bully three hours a day, five days a week, 52 weeks a year is bound to turn even the best mama's boy into a snarling woman-hater. 

It's way past time for this to stop.  It's unhealthy for everybody.

Well, I was thinking about people who shout much nastier things from cars, like threats and slurs. Mooning people who are amused is actual hijinks. Limbaugh's more like the seventeen-year-olds who drive around shouting "Bitch!" out the car window.

So no, I don't think they're funny. I think they're dangerously maladjusted. And I think listening to Rush is very unhealthy for people, for exactly the reasons you say.

Personally, I don't think anything is funny about Rush Limbaugh.

His appeal, though, is that he says things that frustrated conservatives would kind of like to say except they're not quick enough, or too polite, or too realistic about the social consequences to actually say out loud. (Hence the term "Dittoheads:" once Rush says it, people can agree, again without coming right out and saying the stuff themselves.) 

Almost all comedians get laughs this way--but the key is that what they say has to be what their fans secretly want to say. If a comedian says stuff that people don't really think, the laughs dry up. This was Rush's mistake--this rant was one that his most ardent fans (and non-fans) found not funny, but irrelevant and creepy, about somebody who didn't seem that much different from them.

Rush really unleashed the "ewww" factor in "stewpid name-calling humor" here. And coupled with the general sense that Republicans, like smoking, just aren't that cool anymore, this is a major blow to his career. Advertisers are pulling away partly because what he said was repugnant, but also because the number of people who are suddenly going to say "you know, I just don't think he's that funny" has just gone way up.  (Incidentally, politicians are going to drop him like a hot rock too.)

Couldn't happen to a creepier guy, imho.

 

There was a movie based on the life and death of Bob Crane, star of Hogan's Heroes. Crane was apparently deeply addicted to womanizing and porn. In the film, during an interview before his downward plunge into obscurity, Crane forgets social norms and makes some leering remark about a studio audience member's breasts. I thought of that when I heard about Limbaugh's comments. Like Crane, he's in a position to satisfy his lust and mostly get away with it, but he's losing perspective on how society really thinks.

I do think Limbaugh's star power was dying, anyway, which makes it easier for advertisers to leave him.  But I'm relishing these moments, too.  Nothing more gratifying than watching a creep like Rush get his due.  If it doesn't happen and I have to eat my words, I may be experiencing some shirt-pulling, head-scratching rage of my own.  Not a pretty sight.

I agree with you about his star power fading. MSM has been slow to catch on with repeating everything he has said like the majority was already tuned into him. I read that talk radio in some markets has very low ratings like Washington DC. Economic times are hard even for advertisers and they don't want to lose what business they have but make their advertising budget really count. Rush just reminded them it might be time to look for a new market. The mood is changing and the demographics in this country.

I wish I were as optimistic as you. This cat has many lives, and I'm afraid he hasn't used them all up yet. I hope I'm wrong.

Update is that 27 advertisers have terminated their sponsorship.

Two radio stations no longer air his show (it's a start).

But, what really is irritating and troubling is the fact that Bain Capital is one of the major owners of Clear Channel and Romney still getting revenue from their share of Rush's program is not being mentioned more than minimally by media.

I wouldn't care if it was a Repub, Dem or whatever, I'd like to believe that we would all stand up and speak out against any who uses the airwaves to broadcast this type of vitriolic blather.  Not to mention, disrespecting and denigrating women as well as others simply for their political affiliation and/or ethnicity.

Thanks for post.

Fwiw, Rush offered a more contrite apology on Monday:

Against my own instincts, against my own knowledge, against everything I know to be right and wrong I descended to their level when I used those two words to describe Sandra Fluke.  That was my error.  I became like them, and I feel very badly about that.  I've always tried to maintain a very high degree of integrity and independence on this program.  Nevertheless, those two words were inappropriate.  They were uncalled for. They distracted from the point that I was actually trying to make, and I again sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for using those two words to describe her.  I do not think she is either of those two words.  I did not think last week that she is either of those two words. 

http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/daily/2012/03/05/why_i_apologized_to_sandra_...

Yeah some contrition there: Shorter Rush "It's not my fault it's their fault I do this every single day."

It isn't an apology when you blame someone else for what you did, all women know this, we tell it to our children daily when they are growing up.

Rush talks about personal responsibility often, in fact on and on ad infinitum, well personal responsibility in this case is to say he is sorry from the bottom of his heart and he won't ever do that again. Did he do that, absolutely not. He did the same thing every 5 year old does, "it's not my fault" he screams, "it's their fault." What absolute unadulterated BS, since he does this every single day.

Rush Limbaugh called Chelsey Clinton a young teen, the dog of the Whitehouse, he called Amy Carter  names, altho' when he did it she was an adult, yet it still not acceptable. Karma's a bitch baby, it literally slapped him hard right upside the head.  Good.

And that still isn't an apology.

Latest Comments