Thursday, January 12, 2006


It's Rush Limbaugh's birthday today.

In honor of the solemn occasion, this thread at Free Republic links to a two-year-old essay of sorts entitled "Rush Limbaugh Is 'The Passion.'" Here are some excerpts:

Make no mistake. Rush Limbaugh is "The Passion." He is the passion of conservatism, the very pulse, bounding through the veins of the nation. He produces life with every heartbeat of his show as he scoffs at liberals and gives us his interpretation of conservative truth. His brand of ideology shakes the very foundations of liberalism.

He follows in the footsteps of giants, such as George Washington, Thomas Paine, and Ronald Reagan, promoting the ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. He broadcasts affectionately trying to steer growing government towards the ideals of the Constitution....

Mildly he sits and passes on his message, his passion, his views, his legacy. A legacy of truth, justice, and the conservative American way.... There are few men in history that has received the same award as President Ronald Reagan. There are fewer men that could go on day after day under the scrutiny he faces. And there are only a handful of men that could keep themselves reserved while suffering the onslaught of the visceral hatred of "compassionate liberals."

Quite frankly, I don't know how he does it. How does he stand so strong against so much? How does he execute his duties so faithfully with the onslaught of these lies? How does he continue to go on the air? Especially when the people that presume to blackmail him walk free! "The Passion." That’s how....

Liberalism was planted deep within me, as if it were a parasite feeding on me. Rush cut it out like a surgeon excising a cancerous tumor, giving me the opportunity to experience life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. He gave me the chance of a lifetime....

The author of this essay, Chris Davis, also posts it here, along with two follow-ups. The first is a mock-eulogy for Limbaugh that presents a sort of origin myth:

In an excerpt of a speech given many times, Rush's father, Rush Limbaugh, Jr. talked about the Founding Fathers. "Of those 56 who signed the Declaration of Independence, nine died of wounds or hardships during the war," he said. "Five were captured and imprisoned, in each case with brutal treatment. Several lost wives, sons or entire families. One lost his 13 children. Two wives were brutally treated. All were at one time or another, the victims of manhunts and driven from their homes. Twelve signers had their homes completely burned. Seventeen lost everything they owned. Yet not one defected or went back on his pledged word. Their honor, and the nation they sacrificed so much to create, is still intact."

The speech, The Americans who Risked Everything, was included as an article supplement to the September 1997 issue of The Limbaugh Letter....

Those fundamentals were passed from the patriarch, Rush H. Limbaugh, Sr. to Rush H. Limbaugh, Jr. -- in turn -- passing them to Rush Limbaugh III.

The second is a note on the passing of the author's father:

... there are only two men that could've changed my life for the better. One was my father, the other Rush Limbaugh.

This is nuts. Isn't it?

Well, yes and no. On one level, obviously, it's nutty in a love-letters-to-Hitler way. But it also reminds us that right-wingers believe in themselves as figures in a great saga of good and evil. I think this really helps them gird their loins and fight in a way we can never seem to manage.

So many of the elements of legend are here: the noble descent (from sage ancestors and the Founding Fathers), the vicious enemy (us) whose "onslaught" only a rare hero can withstand, the serene demeanor of the hero ("Mildly he sits..."). "The Passion" might as well be "the Force," although it seems, in this legend, to have no Dark Side.

Liberalism, here, is an enemy worthy of legend -- a "parasite," a "cancerous tumor," spread by shape-shifting tricksters who appear "compassionate." Its foul nature even helps explain away Limbaugh's painkiller addiction, according to Davis (perhaps this is the Dark Side of the Force):

I can’t help but applaud a man with this many medical conditions going on day after day after day after day, executing liberal lies with impunity. I have too much respect and admiration for the man that put his own show ahead of pain, pushing himself into addiction and blackmail. Too much admiration for the man that removed the disease, the man that removed liberalism.

Right-wingers tell stories like this -- about Rush and about other conservatives, most notably Bush, Chosen of God.

Ultimately, these are stories about themselves. They don't grumble about their side very much because they believe in their side; they believe in their side because they think God believes in their side, and the Founders would believe in it. They believe God and the Founders would want them to smite the enemy -- us -- without mercy. So when the battle is joined, they don't hold back, and they throw everything at us they think they can get away with. After all, they're fighting for something bigger than themselves, something bigger than the day-to-day -- something mythical.

I'd like to laugh at Chris Davis -- and I would, if I didn't fear what he represents.

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