Saturday, February 7, 2009

Limbaugh-istas and the Economic Problem

I'd like to second columnist Bob Herbert's suggestion that Rush Limbaugh is, in part, responsible for the fact that so many men have lost their jobs in the Republican economy we're suffering at this juncture. The NYTimes reported earlier this week that for the first time the number of men in the workforce in America is about to be passed by the number of working women and, as Herbert says, "not because women have been doing so well, but because men have been doing so poorly."

This is Limbaugh's listeners we're talking about here: white men who hate Democrats and anybody to the left of Ayn Rand and John Burch; the guys who used to be race-baiting Southern Democrats (an oxymoron in those days and often in these days, too); men who shop at Wal-Mart, which is China's fourth-largest export customer; drive the biggest vehicles they can buy, handing gas money to terrorists; smoke in public places, infecting those who don't smoke; wear their beer bellies like championship wrestling belts, burdening our hospital emergency rooms with their heart attacks; and back any war the Repubs want to start by saying they "support the troops." They support welfare for the rich (which they will never be) and hate "welfare queens," though when their jobs disappear--because of their own actions--they're the first to scream bloody murder for a personal government bailout.

They are most often lower-level workers or frustrated middle managers (driving those company cars and calling in with "dittos") whose prospects stop at their current levels ... if they can maintain those jobs. They don't want to even listen to the alternatives, like frustrated fundamentalist religious types who would consider a good hearing of the opposition to be blasphemy. I once told a right-wing buddy of mine that I'd listen to Limbaugh an hour a day for a week (Oh, the PAIN! Oh, the SACRIFICE) if he'd turn on "All Things Considered" for one hour on a Wednesday. No deal. "You're not hooking me in with that little trick," he said.

Limbaugh, whose most recent radio contract was in the $400 million range and who travels with a squad of body guards lest some hot-headed liberal should want to knock him off (imagine that), is the voice that leads these men--off a cliff, it appears. I don't know what Limbaugh's followers aspire to be, but what they aren't is a solution to the problem. Their political support has gone without question to the people who caused our financial (and dang-near every other) problems and it doesn't seem to be near a slight waver even. They voted against Barack Obama and now wear bumper stickers reading "Nobama," which were placed upon their Hummers before Obama was sworn in.

So, do they deserve to lose their jobs? No, they don't. I'd like it a lot of they could keep them, if they would change some of their habits (like shopping in China, via Wal-Mart) to help secure American jobs, including their own. This is not a xenophobic response at this juncture. It simply makes sense. Let the government work for us--for a change. Allow the stimulus the room it needs to get hold. The simple fact is that we are in a pickle and we're not going to get out of it by listening to Limbaugh and his crowd. We may not even get out of it with this new "socialism" (oh, not, not THAT!), but it's certainly worth a try.

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