Paglia on Obama and Limbaugh

March 12th, 2009

In her monthly column at, Camille Paglia discussed the faltering early days of the Obama Administration and its ill-advised attacks on Rush Limbaugh. 

She summarized the Administration’s ineffectiveness and embarrassments, including “that chaotic pig rut of a stimulus package,” the “shrill duo of slick geeks” who speak for the Administration on economic policy, and “the fiasco of the ham-handed” insults directed at the U.K. and its Prime Minister.  Of the missteps Obama and his people have made in foreign policy, these gratuitous insults to our most reliable international partner are the worst.

Then Paglia turned to the Obama Administration’s attacks on Rush Limbaugh.

I wrote in an earlier post that it’s folly to take on Limbaugh because he’ll win and the Obama folks will look silly.  Paglia says it better than I did, of course:

President Obama — in whom I still have great hope and confidence — has been ill-served by his advisors and staff. Yes, they have all been blindsided and overwhelmed by the crushing demands of the presidency. But I continue to believe in citizen presidents, who must learn by doing, even in a perilous age of terrorism. Though every novice administration makes blunders and bloopers, its modus operandi should not be a conspiratorial reflex cynicism.

Case in point: The orchestrated attack on radio host Rush Limbaugh, which has made the White House look like an oafish bunch of drunken frat boys. … Has the administration gone mad? This entire fracas was set off by the president himself, who lowered his office by targeting a private citizen by name. Limbaugh had every right to counterattack, which he did with gusto. Why have so many Democrats abandoned the hallowed principle of free speech? Limbaugh, like our own liberal culture hero Lenny Bruce, is a professional commentator who can be as rude and crude as he wants.

Yes, I cringe when Rush plays his “Barack the Magic Negro” satire or when he gratuitously racializes the debate over Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, who is a constant subject of withering scrutiny for quite different reasons on sports shows here in Philadelphia. On the other hand, I totally agree with Rush about “feminazis,” whose amoral tactics and myopic worldview I as a dissident feminist had to battle for decades. As a student of radio and a longtime listener of Rush’s show, I have gotten a wealth of pleasure and insight from him over the years. To attack Rush Limbaugh is to attack his audience — and to intensify the loyalty of his fan base.

If Rush’s presence looms too large for the political landscape, it’s because of the total vacuity of the Republican leadership, which seems to be in a dithering funk. Rush isn’t responsible for the feebleness of Republican voices or the thinness of Republican ideas. Only ignoramuses believe that Rush speaks for the Republican Party. On the contrary, Rush as a proponent of heartland conservatism has waged open warfare with the Washington party establishment for years.

And I’m sick of people impugning Rush’s wealth and lifestyle, which is no different from that of another virtuoso broadcaster who hit it big — Oprah Winfrey. Rush Limbaugh is an embodiment of the American dream: He slowly rose from obscurity to fame on the basis of his own talent and grit. Every penny Rush has earned was the result of his rapport with a vast audience who felt shut out and silenced by the liberal monopoly of major media. As a Democrat and Obama supporter, I certainly do not agree with everything Rush says or does. I was deeply upset, for example, by the sneering tone both Rush and Sean Hannity took on Inauguration Day, when partisan politics should have been set aside for a unifying celebration of American government and history. Nevertheless, I respect Rush for his independence of thought and his always provocative news analysis. He doesn’t run with the elite — he goes his own way.

President Obama should yank the reins and get his staff’s noses out of slash-and-burn petty politics. His own dignity and prestige are on the line. If he wants a second term, he needs to project a calmer perspective about the eternal reality of vociferous opposition, which is built into our democratic system.  

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3 Responses to “Paglia on Obama and Limbaugh”

  1. Kevin |

    The Obama/Brown thing is much ado about nothing as far as I can tell. So what if Obama used the phrase “special partnership” rather than “special relationship.” Frankly, as I understand the English language, “partnership” implies something closer than “relationship” anyway.

    As for Limbaugh… That’s overblown too. Newt Gingrich himself stated yesterday that anyone wanting Obama to fail is “irrational.”

    Beyond that it is my considered opinion that Ms. Paglia and, with all due respect, you too Tom, are misreading what Obama’s people are doing with respect to Limbaugh. I submit that Gingrich’s comment hints at what the Obama people are really doing. And I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Gingrich privately welcomes it.

    The days when racist jokes such as Limbaugh and like-minded conservatives like to chortle over don’t fundamentally wound a major political party are long gone. All trend lines point to increasingly larger percentages of Americans not being willing to accept such juvenile bigotry. I suspect Gingrich understands those trend lines very well and understands that Limbaugh and his ilk fire up an increasingly smaller percentage of the electorate, while inflaming an increasingly larger precentage of the electorate. The political implications are self-evident.

  2. Kevin |

    BTW, what the heck happened to Centerfield? Have you heard anything from anyone there? I’m holding off removing them from my blogroll in the hopes that whatever it is is temporary.

  3. Tom |

    I asked TP the same question by e-mail, and he said that he doesn’t know but WS is supposed to be working on it. I’m also just waiting to see what happens with it.

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