Look at today’s lectures on fair play, they are everywhere. Lucky me, I’ve been reading how Bill Maher and Rush Limbaugh are the same person. You follow these rants, and they go: “These two guys, they’re identical. Bill Maher is a hideous misogynist, and Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer — who, by the way, carries enough of God’s good grace to manage an apology when he’s made a mistake. See?”
Oh, yes. Simple as could be. Bill Maher called Sarah Palin nasty things, Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke nasty things. Maher is evil, Rush is a victim. Fifty-fifty, even-steven, comme ci comme ca, wang-chung. When two different guys say roughly the same things, it’s a wash. By someone’s definition, the two statements communicate the exact same thing.
Let’s see if I’m at all following this. I remember May 1, 2003. George W. Bush stood aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln and said of the Iraq War, “Mission Accomplished.” At the exact same time, watching the spectacle on TV, I thought about Karl Rove’s hard-selling the war to Americans. I mumbled to myself: “Mission Accomplished.” It’s weird how everybody chose to criticize George, instead of me.
It’s some sort of mystery how the exact same things end up different. It’s unfair, really. For instance, Bill Maher is a foul-mouthed stand up comic. And yet, unlike Rush Limbaugh, he’s not the leader of the American conservative movement or the Republican Party. While people will listen to Bill for his opinions, there aren’t millions of people who hang upon his every word. No sizable chunk of America re-posts, re-quotes and dittoes his every syllable because they believe that Bill is always right. Somehow, nobody thinks that Bill Maher is always right.
Also, unfortunately, people of similar politics may differ with Bill Maher. Plenty of people have criticized Bill for his opinions. Thankfully, this isn’t the case with Rush. Even when — especially when — you’re a powerful Republican congressman or senator, if you criticize Limbaugh, you write your future obituary.
Congressman Phil Gingrey from Georgia, for instance, mistakenly said:
“I mean, it’s easy if you’re Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh or even sometimes Newt Gingrich to stand back and throw bricks. You don’t have to try to do what’s best for your people and your party.”
. . then had to beg for a phone line into Rush’s radio program, to say:
“I clearly ended up putting my foot in my mouth on some of those comments and I just wanted to tell you, Rush, … that I regret those stupid comments.”
Whew. Representative Todd Tihart of Kansas once mis-stated:
“No, no, he’s just an entertainer.”
. . then had to trot out his spokesman to correct his near-fatal mistake:
“The congressman believes Rush is a great leader of the conservative movement in America . . “
Even the pretend leader of the Republicans, GOP Chairman Michael Steele, nearly bought the farm:
“Rush Limbaugh, his whole thing is entertainment. Yes, it’s incendiary. Yes, it’s ugly.”
. . until he genuflected, with humility:
“I have enormous respect for Rush Limbaugh… I was maybe a little bit inarticulate. … There was no attempt on my part to diminish his voice or his leadership…. I went back at that tape and I realized words that I said weren’t what I was thinking.”
It’s a shame no one’s had to apologize to Bill, the comic, to prevent his professional standing and political power from being destroyed. I doubt Maher would be interested in such games, anyway, to his discredit.
And it’s particularly sad that no one thinks Bill Maher is a figure worth deifying. Though he’s practically Rush’s twin, nobody has nominated him for a Nobel Peace Prize. No man, or university, or foundation, has ever written an equivalent to this on his behalf, a letter to the Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Institute:
Dear Dr. Mjos:
Landmark Legal Foundation herewith submits the name of Rush Limbaugh as an unsolicited nomination for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.
We are offering this nomination for Mr. Limbaugh’s nearly two decades
of tireless efforts to promote liberty, equality and opportunity for all
mankind, regardless of race, creed, economic stratum or national origin. We fervently believe that these are the only real cornerstones of just and lasting peace throughout the world.
This says something about us, doesn’t it? The comedian will somehow never win a Nobel Peace Prize. This is shocking. It’s as if these two men, Bill Maher and Rush Limbaugh, had nothing in common at all.