Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Rush Limbaugh: the gift that keeps on giving.

Yes, the schadenfreude continues, as Jon Friedman explains why we have Rush to thank for helping the Democrats win.

At last, Rush Limbaugh got his comeuppance. And he did it all by himself.

As a matter of fact, my favorite Election Day moment occurred at the very end of the process, when newly elected Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill slyly thanked Limbaugh for his role in her victory.

Yes, revenge was sweet for the Democrats. And why not? Limbaugh had delighted in kicking sand in their faces for years, luxuriating in the GOP's dominance in national politics.

In contrast to Limbaugh's trademark, piercing proclamations, McCaskill made her remark while flashing a big, triumphant smile. But she clearly relished in twisting the knife.

Fair enough. Limbaugh went too far when he blasted actor Michael J. Fox, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, on the eve of the midterm elections.

One view is that all's fair in politics, and Fox had put himself in the public arena by becoming a spokesman for the pro-stem cell research faction. But everyone deserves to be treated with respect and compassion. Whether Limbaugh was guilty of bad manners or bad politics, it didn't matter. And even when he explained his remarks afterward, his comments had a hollow ring.

In hindsight, it would have been wise for Limbaugh to leave Fox alone, especially after Fox shook violently during television commercials. But Limbaugh couldn't
do that.

Instead, trying to make Fox look as bad as possible, Limbaugh said he suspected that Fox hadn't taken his medication. He reckoned that Fox had exploited his illness as a slick way to boost the public's appeal for federally funded embryonic stem cell research. The stem-cell issue had become a pivotal part of McCaskill's campaign in Missouri (and the initiative ultimately passed).

Here is the irony. If Republican Jim Talent had defeated McCaskill, the Republicans would have held on to control of the U.S. Senate. Not only did Limbaugh hurt Talent, he ended up screwing the whole Republican Party.

Well, there's a still a bright side to all this. Rush has been liberated from having to carry water for the likes of charisma-free rubber-stampers like Talent. I'm sure the GOP appreciates that.