Friday, January 01, 2010


Surely I'm stating the glaringly obvious when I say that this statement from Rush Limbaugh about his hospitalization in Honolulu is absurd:

"The treatment I received here was the best that the world has to offer," Limbaugh said. "Based on what happened here to me, I don't think there's one thing wrong with the American health care system. It is working just fine, just dandy."

Limbaugh said that despite his celebrity he received the same treatment as anyone else who would have called 911 and been taken to the hospital in his condition.

"I got no special treatment," he said....

I don't really have to explain why this is absurd, do I? If O.J. Simpson had said, after his very expensive dream team won him an acquittal on murder charges, "The U.S. system of justice is wonderful -- I got the same treatment a poor kid with a public defender would have gotten if charged with the same crime," we'd have said he was being ridiculous. If a rich Hollywood star caught with massive amounts of powdered drugs got sentenced to ritzy rehab and probation and said, "The system works -- a street junkie would have gotten the same deal," we'd just laugh.

That's the equivalent of what Limbaugh is saying. He's in no position to say a poor, uninsured person would have gotten the same treatment -- that's for poor and uninsured people to say.

(Longtime readers of this blog know that several times I've cited a New York Observer column from 2003, which recounts a Limbaugh broadcast in which he explained that he doesn't believe in health insurance, and that he always pays for his medical treatment out of pocket -- which is easy for him because he has vast reserves of cash and makes nearly $40 million a year.)

But Limbaugh knows that, at least to part of the country, his let-them-eat-cake statement actually sounds plausible. To these people, Limbaugh isn't an Ivy League, big-city elitist, even if he is filthy rich and incredibly influential. To them, the insiders are "liberal elitists" like the president of the United States and all Democrats (every one of whom is, by definition, a real or honorary big-city latte-swilling elitist) ... as well as every poor, uninsured person who needs health care. In the wingnut narrative, that's the enemy: the unholy alliance of the elite and the unwashed. The elite, you see, use the poor as a weapon to destroy civilization as hard-working, rock-ribbed regular Americans know it. And one of the most regular, most non-elite guys around is ... Rush Limbaugh! He didn't go to Harvard! He isn't a swell! He's just a regular guy from Missouri!

So when Limbaugh says the health system works, part of America thinks he's really qualified to judge. It doesn't ring false at all. They don't even recognize the completely reversal of class roles embodied in Limbaugh's statement.

If I'm right about this, we live in a very sick country.

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