by Errington C. Thompson, MD –
It was about 14 or 15 years ago when I wandered into the studios of WPEK in Asheville.
I wanted to talk about starting my own radio show. I had written an extremely unsuccessful book—A Letter to America, Is Bush Leading Us in the Right Direction?—and my “agent” said that I needed a platform like radio. The station manager said sure, I can have airtime. Bingo, I was on the air. In order to learn the business of talking into a microphone, I decided to study Rush Limbaugh. He had the largest audience. He had dedicated listeners. He was the King of talk radio.
Well, my radio show was modestly successful. I did learn a lot from Rush. Unfortunately, I really didn’t use any of it on the air except for one thing—Rush always used a script. Other than that, he had nothing I could use.
Rush was mean. He was hateful. There wasn’t a minority group that couldn’t be scapegoated. Rush was basically a white supremacist. Also, Rush was always angry from some slight.
Always Attack, Never Retract
He quickly learned that attacking Democrats earned him more listeners. There was no attack that was out of bounds. He had a frequent pattern. He would take something that was factual, then he would conflate it with losing freedom, communism, or the fear that good, God-fearing, patriotic, (White) American men would soon be wearing skirts, changing diapers, and marrying “feminazis” who would crush their genitals for breakfast.
Rush Limbaugh was a very skilled talk radio host. He had a great voice. He was a shameless self-promoter. There was an endless stream of Rush products that his listeners could and did buy. Also, he would lie. There wasn’t a lie that he wouldn’t double down on—the more his “Ditto-head” listeners called in with fake or pumped-up outrage, the happier he was to lie again, and again, and again.
Almost never would Rush apologize. When a college student who was testifying in front of Congress about the importance of birth control being incorporated in ObamaCare, Rush called her a whore. Did Rush apologize? No! Rush went nuts and attacked her some more.
She was the perfect target. She didn’t have a platform to fight back. She wasn’t a politician. She was simply a smart, brave, knowledgeable college student who was fighting for something that women in the US have been asking for, for decades. Rush stated that this college student wanted nothing more than to have free sex.
Personal attacks were one of Rush’s special “gifts.” He went after any Democratic Congresswoman, but Hillary Clinton was his favorite target. There was nothing that Hillary could do, even salute the flag, that Rush couldn’t twist into something anti-American.
Target African Americans
Rush became so popular that one of the Sunday NFL TV shows thought that it was a good idea to put him into the mix of sports personalities and analysts. Rush, because he was always Rush, always a racist, couldn’t help himself. He was commenting on a sport that was predominantly Black, so he had to attack someone—someone Black.
Donovan McNabb, the quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles, was a perfect target for Rush. He wasn’t Michael Vick who everyone thought was spectacular. He wasn’t an overweight defensive lineman who was overpaid and not producing, and whom no one would know or care about. No, Donovan McNabb was a Black quarterback who wasn’t on an elite team like the Cowboys, Giants, 49ers, or Steelers.
Rush went on a three- or four-minute monologue on how McNabb was just average or below average. Now, the fact is, McNabb was a good quarterback, bordering on great. I have personally seen Donovan dominate a game. He would scramble and evade the pass rush with his 6’2,” 240-lb. athletic frame and then throw a dart (bullet pass) 30 or 40 yards down field for a touchdown. And the only year that McNabb had a real receiver, Tyrell Owens, he took the Eagles to the Super Bowl—where they lost to Tom Brady’s New England Patriots.
So of course Rush stated that if McNabb were White he would never have been drafted into the NFL. Well, as usual, this was a calculated attack. Rush almost never went off script. Rush figured even if he was thrown off the TV show, which he was, he would gain a ton of new listeners, which he did.
At first McNabb didn’t address the racist slight. He and the NFL fought back eventually, but it was too late. I think that this is one of the reasons that McNabb is not in the Hall of Fame right now. He was good enough. His stats are clearly good enough. But he is Black, and Rush was a racist.
Rush and The Donald
Rush Limbaugh and Donald Trump were birds of a feather. Both were toxic. Both lied like it was an Olympic sport and they were going for the gold. Both used immigrants as targets of their hate. Both attacked opponents without mercy, and their audiences loved it.
Without Rush clearing the way, there would be no Trump. Now, Trump is out of office, and Rush died last month of lung cancer.
That’s kind of ironic, since Rush inflamed and invigorated an ideology that is a cancer on our society. Until we excise this cancer we are a dying nation.
Republicans hate government regulations (except those that regulate individual rights, like minorities’ voting rights or women’s sexual freedom). Let corporations regulate themselves, they say, and the heck with the consequences. So when the deregulation of home mortgages and derivatives brought us the Great Recession of 2007-09, and millions lost jobs and homes, even that didn’t deter the GOP.
But some things simply need regulating to prevent catastrophic badness. For example, the Texas power grid, which covers 95% of Texas and is not connected to the power grids for the rest of the United States. It’s almost like Texas wants to be an independent country. During the coldest cold snap in memory the good people of the independent country of Texas were out of power.
Now remember that Texas is one of the most power-rich places in the world. Ironic, isn’t it?? They have so much oil they sell it all over the world, so much gas they provide it to the whole country, so much wind and sunshine that they have more power than they need.
Now, renewables—wind and solar—supply about 25% of Texas’ power. The wind turbines did freeze up, but this was predicted—because unlike wind turbines in Siberia, they’re not winterized. Can’t happen here, right?
Natural gas supplies about 40% of the state’s power. The state allowed those plants to be built outdoors to save money (in the North they are built indoors). The pipes froze. Regular shipments of natural gas to power plants, which comes in by truck, were delayed because the trucks were stuck in the snow and ice.
After the state’s last cold snap, about a decade ago, Texas regulators suggested changes. But the changes were voluntary, and none of the energy companies adopted them. As for me, I’m willing to pay more to have reliable energy all of the time. I really don’t like deregulated low prices that lead to my having no heat, lights, hot water, or even cold water, when I really need them.
I’m in favor of economic relief. The more money the poor have, the more money they are going to spend, and the better our economy will do. It is that simple for me. One argument that the GOP is making—always makes—is that this stimulus will cause the economy to overheat and lead to runaway inflation. I call nonsense.
The other argument Republicans always return to is that giving people money—unemployment benefits, subsidies for child care and health insurance, even rent—will make them “dependent” on the government; it’ll make them “lazy.” Welfare moms in Cadillacs. I call racism.
Wrong on Everything
But the GOP has been wrong on every major Democratic initiative since Clinton. Clinton raised taxes in order to help balance the budget. The GOP cried foul. The economy didn’t crash as the GOP predicted, it soared. Then, Obama’s stimulus was going to ruin the economy, according to the GOP. Instead, Obama ushered in the longest period of sustained economic growth that the US has ever known.
That’s why I don’t trust anything that the GOP says on the economy. They are routinely wrong. Invariably wrong. Usually 180-degrees wrong.
And by the way, the FED’s job is to regulate the economy: if it starts to overheat, they simply increase interest rates—currently at zero percent—to cool it off. It is really that simple.
Leaders and Leadership
Nationwide, covid cases are down. They are way down. Experts have been scratching their heads trying to figure out why? My answer is simple. First, we are beginning to seriously vaccinate Americans. (I’m vaccinated. Are you? What is your plan to get vaccinated?) This is good but probably not the reason that cases are down.
Second, leadership matters. Biden and Harris have embraced science and the wearing of masks. I think that this single act has led to more Americans wearing masks, and this simple act stops the spread of Covid. A couple of weeks ago I was at the airport in Charlotte (a hotbed of Republicanism), and over 95% of folks that I saw were wearing masks. Compliance with thoughtful restrictions… This is how we break the back of Covid. This is how we get our lives back.
Psst, it is really a great feeling that Trump is out of office. I feel less dread everyday. I feel happier. What about you?
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed here, as well as assertions of facts, are those of the author. They do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of The Urban News.