Along the Tracks

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Oh joy. Marilou's back.

I had a friend in college who drank "Top Hat" beer. He handed me one once, I had a sip, and proceeded to shower our dorm coffee table and assorted books and homework with the supposed-lager swill.

"Why do you drink that [crap]?" I demanded.

"It helps me appreciate the good stuff - even the other bad stuff," he replied.

Same goes for the Sunday Blade.

On this chilly morn, I could expound upon the stupidity of the Blade's repeated claims that Tuesday's Toledo council election results somehow "endorsed" the smoking ban. I could note how the Blade apparently reserves the "right to pursue development in the nuclear field" to terrorist-sponsoring, authoritarian enemies of the United States. I could observe that the "Tiger Force" series on alleged Vietnam War crimes by U.S. soldiers was perfectly timed to allow an almost daily litany of editorial page comparisons with Iraq.

But after a month-long absence, Marilou Johanek has reappeared. How can I pass that up? It's so easy! It's so fun!

Sort of hate to waste good newspaper space on a doped up radio personality, but I can no longer refrain.

Marilou, nobody wastes newspaper space like you do - don't claim you "hate" your little soapbox. But fear not: The Blade is not a "good newspaper," so waste away!

On the subject of "a doped up radio personality," I'm glad you find such glee in the misery of others.

We're not talking revered statesman, role model, or Nobel laureate here. Rush Limbaugh is just a middle-aged Weight Watcher who, until he checked himself into rehab, sat in front of a radio microphone and did a talk show to the best of his abilities. That's it.

... as opposed to washed up TV anchorwoman who now sits in front of a Mac banging out Angry Left screeds, despite lacking any ability?

We get a nice statement of Marilou's philosophy, though: Our 'superiors,' like liberal statesmen, liberal role models and liberal award-winners are off-limits to criticism. However, those less fortunate, those suffering human frailties - and of course, conservative - hey, they're fair game!

He produced a radio persona that was purposely bombastic - the more the better. He earned his salary by being outrageous, sexist, racist, elitist, and whatever else would get people talking and listening to his program. In the beginning he was damned good. Regardless of what one thought of his exaggerated political bent, the broadcaster had all the ingredients for success; he was funny, witty, dismissive, and, most of all, controversial.

Spoken like someone who has never heard Rush. Why am I not surpised?

We have the "original sins" of conservatism helpfully listed; no need to prove "sexism" or "racism" - he's conservative, right? The "elitist" charge is hard to fathom, considering Marilou just praised elitism to explain why Rush is fair game. But there I go again, demanding some semblence of consistency from a habitual hypocrite.

But Rush started to believe his own PR, gradually becoming an on-air legend in his own mind, with talent, he said, "on loan from God." His show was less entertaining and more boring. It was more rant and nonstop plugs about Rush. As his self-importance became super-inflated, so did his off-the-wall bluster about anyone who was on the wrong side of right.

Rush is an entertainer, first and foremost - something I could have sworn Marilou just noted. Part of his on-air persona is an overarching confidence in his conservative message and interpretations. That never changed. Rush's "talent on loan from God" line combines this confidence with the humility of religious recognition. In church we sing, "I am nothing without Him." Marilou must have missed that service. Of course, deference to religious sensibilities is another conservative sin.

He inspired an army of faithful dittohead listeners who ascribed almost messianic properties to their conservative king. He fed off their adoration but brooked no tolerance for "those people" who disagreed.

But just a second ago Marilou said Rush had become "less entertaining and more boring," yet he "inspired an army"? [Ed. - It's Marilou. She's inconsistent. We get it!]

Another repeat: Marilou is clueless on religion. Dittoheads (NOTE: She thinks these are unthinking clones who agree with everything Rush says; of course, listeners know "dittoheads" are people who appreciate hearing a non-liberal point of view on the news, whether they agree with Rush or not. I'm a "dittohead," and I disagree with Rush quite a bit) "ascribed almost messianic properties to their conservative king"? How offensive is that to people who take religion seriously? Oh, sorry, she's liberal, smarter than all of us, and therefore free to offend with impunity - I forgot.

And her next line says Rush "brooked no tolerance"! By the way, as any Rush listener knows, Rush moves callers with opposing points of view to the front of the line.

Fans who hung on his every word never suspected he might be stoned on powerful narcotics. They never suspected he scored supplies of black-market drugs in parking lots or wherever his former housekeeper could deliver "the little blues."

Finally, making fun of addiction and Rush's stupid listeners. I wondered how long she'd be able to resist. Answer: Not very.

The story broke just as ESPN was gratefully accepting Rush's resignation as a football commentator after he made racially charged comments about a black quarterback. No doubt the radio bully expected the bulletin in which he was fingered wouldn't amount to a handful of Vicodin or OxyContin because it first appeared in the National Enquirer. Who'd believe a muckraking tabloid over a muckraking mouth with a mega audience?

But the housekeeper who got paid for keeping her boss in pills, and who eventually got paid to tell the world about it, apparently had lots of material evidence like e-mails and phone messages from the celebrity junkie to back up her claim to fame. Rush, realizing that even celebrity drug users go to jail, ended his silence, had total recall of his years-long drug habit, and immediately ducked into rehab.

The ESPN thing is a side issue, of course, but one Marilou couldn't pass without comment. I'll merely point out that, since Rush's statement on ESPN about Donovan McNabb being "overrated" (something I posted on in disagreement - and again, I'm a "dittohead"), several sports writers have spoken out in agreement with Rush's contention that some black quarterbacks get "boosterish" coverage because a liberal media wants to see them succeed. I still disagree with the claim, but I think the debate shows this was not just some "racially charged comment" from a "radio bully."

Isn't it nice to see Marilou find such joy in another human's failures? She hasn't the intelligence to debate the issues, apparently, so she just slimes the guy as a "muckraker" equivalent to the National Enquirer, a "celebrity junkie." And she turns Rush's admission to addiction and entrance into a rehabilitation program as not only a defeat, but a cynical attempt to avoid the truth.

Marilou has apparently had the good fortunes to never know anyone who is addicted, so I'll help her here: The admission of addiction is the hardest truth to accept. Rush could have dissembled, could have tied things up in litigation with the National Enquirer, his housekeeper, etc., and once forced to confront the truth in some way, claimed he just "used a few" pills for ear pain and headaches caused by his well-publicized loss of hearing and following surgery. Instead, he faced his problem head on, and less than a week after the first allegations came out, he was in rehab. That takes some guts, when your story is inevitably going to be derided by people like Marilou, nationwide, for weeks and months and years. Ask yourself: Would you admit to an embarrasing addiction if it was certain to become known to everyone you have ever known or ever will know for the rest of your life?

The reaction of friends and foes alike was remarkably sappy and forgiving for one who would have scoffed at such forbearance - and did. When he was an equal opportunity drug warrior his disdain for VIPs abusing drugs was unequivocal: "... find the ones who are getting away with it, convict them, and send them up the river, too." All the while Rush was reportedly hoarding bulk quantities of powerful drugs he knowingly purchased illegally.

The man who went into an apoplectic meltdown grandstanding on how Slick Willie flouted the rule of law was apparently doing likewise, allegedly committing an offense that would land ordinary addicts behind bars. Who knew the two men, both less than truthful with those who trusted them, would have something in common?

How dare others forgive! How dare they become "sappy" when someone fails, admits it and seeks to overcome it! I'll be far more generous to Marilou than she'd be in reverse on the timing of the Rush quote she uses - it was from his television program, and by all accounts several years before his addiction began. Even so, Rush never changed his tune as a "drug warrior," and so he was indeed hypocritical. Some may note that addiction usually requires hypocrisy. It's the easiest of charges to make. However, I do not recall Rush ever gloating over the sufferings of the addicted - not only something Marilou is doing herself, but something she derides others for not doing.

Classy gal, that Marilou.

The Clinton reference is something else entirely. Clinton's activities were part of an effort to cover up criminal activity which was being investigated. He lied and he lied and he lied - under oath, to his Cabinet, to the American people, over and over again. He dissembled, he put up legal hurdles, he trashed his accusers publically. When the lies finally caught up with him, he claimed victimhood, villainized those who nailed him, refused to do the decent thing and step aside, and set a horrible example for young Americans which it will take a generation of parental diligence to overcome.

Rush admitted his failure almost immediately, asked forgiveness and prayers, and stepped aside to do the important task at hand: overcome his addiction.

Anybody see the difference here?

Rush's tearful confession to listeners, "I take full responsibility for this problem," - a la Jimmy Swaggart's sobbing "I have sinned" - satisfied the right-wing crowd who had the temerity to give higher moral standing to prescription drug abuse over say, being hooked on coke or pot.

What a joke. Rush would still be buying bigger and better highs from his housekeeper if he hadn't got caught. Forget compassion for this conservative. He had none for his employees doing his dirty work and becoming the fall guys for his drug habits.

Why would people not accept Rush's confession? Has he repeatedly lied to us about his vast number of criminal activities, so that now he is seen as merely "crying wolf"? By Marilou's logic, Rush should have hidden, fought and lied - like Clinton. I only hope people are more kind when some tragic failure visits her family.

This claim that the "right-wing crowd" somehow gave Rush a pass because of the specific substance involved is delirious fiction. I read conservative comment every day, and I never saw that floated - not once. Of course, just as Marilou obviously never listened to Rush, she obviously does not read conservative commentary, which has primarily praised Rush's quick admission, noted terrible consequences of ALL drug addictions, and wondered what this experience will do to the tenor of Rush's commentary. Libertarians have focused on the hypocrital nature of addiction. Thinking liberals have criticized the hypocrisy, but wisely have chosen not to make something "personal" out of a problem they sincerely care about - addiction in general. Liberal hacks have done pretty much what Marilou does here: Pillage Rush personally. Her claim that people were too "sappy" indicates she is not even a wide reader of liberal commentary. Not surprising.

The accusation of Rush hanging his employees out to dry is inscrutible. Where does she get this? Has the housekeeper claimed Rush forced her to buy the drugs or else? Is she rotting in jail for life? Is there some other evidence of Rush's "lack of compassion" for his enablers and the drug dealers? What would she have Rush do - interfere with a criminal investigation to protect them?

Maybe she would. That's what Clinton would do - but then again, Clinton would still be lying about his own involvement, and the coverup would ultimately help him and him alone.

Wealthy addicts like Rush can get away with breaking the law, while jails are filled with poor junkies who couldn't afford pricey rehab to save their lives.

Save your sympathy for them. Rush could retire tomorrow with his millions and make a stunning comeback in a few months, such as other disgraced luminaries like Lyn Nofziger and Dick Morris.

Maybe Rush could partner as a GOP consultant with "Kenny Boy" Lay, another tarnished star who just couldn't say no to living the high life - legalities notwithstanding.

We still don't know if Rush will be prosecuted for his criminal activity - he most likely will be. And this blow to his media empire doesn't seem much like "getting away with" anything. Nationwide, most first time drug offenders are sentenced to rehab, which sometimes includes jail time - and sometimes takes place in jail. A separation from the environment for those crucial first days is key to successful rehabilitation from addiction. Rush's money may have allowed him to chose his place of "incarceration," but only being "locked up" is likely to end the addiction itself.

Something Marilou can't seem to grasp is that Rush admitted his problem, and admitting your addiction before you are convicted of a crime opens options for rehab that are not available to people who avoid the issue until busted. That goes for the crack addict who shows up at social services as much as for the rich radio commentator.

"Retire" and "make a stunning comeback," all in the same sentence [Ed. - Paul, I told you her inconsistency has been beaten to death. P.M. - Alright, alright!] The "disgraced luminaries," I might note, were both White House employees, not private citizens. And Lyn Nofziger was such a "luminary" that I had to google him to remember who he was. Oh, and I'm sure it's only coincidental that Morris - a Clinton operative caught looking for hookers - is now writing for a conservative audience, and so both examples attempt to throw mud at the right. After all, no true Democrat has ever been caught doing something wrong then gone on to continued fame and fortune - well, with the possible exception of Bill Clinton, and Jesse Jackson, and Al Sharpton, and Carol Mosely-Braun, and Ted Kennedy, and Hilary Clinton, and ....

And a closing Enron reference? "Kenny Boy" Lay? That's the best she can do? Wow, she should have just written "Republicans are greedy! The end." At least it would have been consistent [Ed. - Paul! P.M. - Oops, sorry!]

Well, for not wanting to "waste good newspaper space" - regardless of the suspect qualifier "good" - Marilou has done a stunning job. How hypocritical!

I wouldn't have it any other way - that was just a blast! Marilou, maybe next week you can go off on another personal destruction raid. How about looking into whether Condi Rice or Colin Powell is racist? Or better yet, stupid slaves to the evil conservative cabal - you know, like Ken Blackwell! Hey, maybe some conservative woman has had an abortion - that'd be a showstopper. I bet some GOP congressman has lost a child to gun violence - that'd be a great wound to tear open! Maybe the guy even voted against gun control - you could say it was his fault, HE DESERVED IT!

The possibilities are endless, Marilou - think big!

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