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Translating Rush Limbaugh

Timothy Kincaid

May 28th, 2010

Even on those times that I agree with Rush Limbaugh on an issue, I can hardly stand to hear the man. He’s boorish, rude, arrogant, and childish. He’s much more inclined to attack the messenger than debate the message and, far more frequently than I can stomach, the topic of his monologue is himself and how wonderful he is.

If you like a daily dose of how stupid, foolish, unpatriotic, and hateful towards our nation are Democrats in general and President Obama specifically, Limbaugh is your man. If you like nudge nudge, wink wink humor, spiteful parodies, and coy race-based ‘comedy’, Rush is there to provide. And he’s made a fortune doing it.

Say what you will about him, Limbaugh is no fool. He’s stayed prominent in the business when many many others with similar viewpoints and similar methods have come and gone. And one way he’s survived is to be as careful about what he doesn’t say as he is about what he does say.

And I’ve noticed, over the years, that Limbaugh is cautious around gay issues.

Yes, I know that our community sees him as Satan incarnate, but if we look at his most objectionable anti-gay comments, they tend towards mocking, school-yard humor and tend not to be based in opposition to specific gay issues.

In fact, over the past few days while our legislature has been taking steps to reverse DADT, Rush has had a lot of opinions about the administration’s response to the oil spill, Obama’s socialist agenda, illegal immigration, and the usual rabble-rousing, but missing from his broadcasts seems to be any fiery denunciations of the terrible effect that allowing gay soldiers would have on our military.

So I was not particularly surprised to read that Limbaugh’s personal beliefs and positions are not radically different from that of many of our supporters. A new biography of Limbaugh (promoted on his website) states that Rush does not buy into the ideology of many of his followers.

As reported by the wacky anti-gay “news” site, World Net Daily

Limbaugh is also in favor of homosexual civil unions, according to Chafets.

“He regards homosexuality as, most probably, biologically determined, and while he opposes gay marriage as culturally subversive, he has no problem with gay civil unions – which is the stance of President Obama and Hillary Clinton,” the author explains.

That may, however, come as a surprise to many in the gay community. Having felt the sting of his “humor” many times, having heard the jokes at Barney Frank’s expense, it feels strange to hear that he is in favor of civil unions. It is easier to imagine that Limbaugh is right there with Peter LaBarbera and Matt Barber.

But I think Rush is too smart for that.

Some may say that Limbaugh really does agree with the extremists but only has put out a more moderate message for public consumption. And that may be true, we have no way to know.

But even if so, what Limbaugh’s position clarification reveals is that he knows that anti-gay extremism has no future. Even conservatives who delight in a daily dose of hate-on-Obama are tired of blame-the-gays and embarrassed by wacky Nazi claims and frothing homophobia.

Comments

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Lindoro Almaviva
May 28th, 2010 | LINK

You know? I think that he might have someone gay in his closet and maybe that person is actually influencing his thinking. After all, his “prince consort” in the devil incarnate throne (Chenney) is of the same opinion.

It is interesting how shrewd he is being about this, which is why I am thinking that there is a gay person in his closet. Politically he is allowing others to believe that he is while at the same time remaining silent on the issue so as to have near-to-none paper trail that would confirm him as the enemy to the anti-gay camp. If you think about it, this smells like a compromise that could be reached with a gay family member: So long as I do not say anything anti-gay, who cares what they think I believe? Let them believe what they want, you know how i feel and you know I am not going to go on the air and attack you.

So Rushy, who is the gay person in your closet?

Neon Genesis
May 28th, 2010 | LINK

Are we really going to rely on World Net Daily to give us accurate info about people even on the Right? It’d be interesting if Rush Limbaugh really did support LGBT rights but until there’s another source besides WND, I’m skeptical.

Neon Genesis
May 28th, 2010 | LINK

Let’s not forget that WND also claimed Bush wanted to create a one world government so WND isn’t above making things up about people on the Right they don’t consider to be extreme enough.

Timothy Kincaid
May 28th, 2010 | LINK

Neon Genesis,

Good point. They also once ran a series of articles on the dangers of soy… because it can make you gay.

But a review on Huffington Post is a second source.

CB
May 28th, 2010 | LINK

I have to admit, I had some fun with Rush in my video @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmEq9M9lPJQ

Some people just open themselves up to it. LOL

Samuel
May 28th, 2010 | LINK

“And I’ve noticed, over the years, that Limbaugh is cautious around gay issues.”

No offense, but you obviously are a relatively new Dittohead. Rush used to do live appearances called the “Rush to Excellence” tour. That was back in the 80’s and I saw him at Arco Arena in Sacramento. At the time, one of his big shticks was to mock AIDS patients. The crowd went crazy every time he played the bumper “I’ll Never Love This Way Again” – part of a bit he did to ridicule gays with AIDS. He also said the cure was for men to stop sitting in the laps of other men (the crowd hooted and hollered).

Years later in an interview, Rush said it was something he deeply regretted. That is why he is now ‘careful’ around gay issues. He also spent a long time in the 90’s doing various bits to mock GLAAD. Interestingly, he was given his first big break by a gay radio producer at KFBK. Rush used to speak about how that guy was deathly afraid of AIDS (which he eventually died of).

Over the years it has sickened me to hear Log Cabin Republicans and others minimize Rush’s history and speak of how funny, smart, and successful he is. The most despicable thing is that you are helping Rush rewrite history. Shame on you.

Samuel
May 28th, 2010 | LINK

Something I forgot to add is that Rush rarely has guests on his show. But back in the 80’s he had on San Francisco’s Willie Brown. Even though they are diametrically opposed, Rush respected him for some reason. I also called Rush back then when he as a guest on KGO’s Bernie Ward program (yes the same host in Federal prison now). I asked him the specific question “Do you believe homosexuality is normal.” He said something about he believed it was natural but not normal. I have a cassette tape of it somewhere. Despite what he may say, he is virulently anti-gay just like Michael Savage. Under the right circumstances, either one will explode in a venomous homophobic tirade.

Timothy Kincaid
May 28th, 2010 | LINK

Samuel,

I’ve not seen Limbaugh on tour, so I missed the skit you reference. I’m not disputing it, but as you indicated he regrets that choice and, as you also indicated, that’s why he’s now careful.

Which is what I said. Obviously, I’m not “helping Rush rewrite history”.

Shame on you for saying so.

And as for Log Cabin Republicans minimizing Rush’s history and speaking of how funny, smart, and successful he is, I want a source. I’m pretty familiar with the public positions of Log Cabin and I’m pretty sure that exists only in your imagination.

Soren456
May 28th, 2010 | LINK

Since virtually everything about Limbaugh is calculated, the omission is indeed an interesting one.

I rule out scruples, however, since he has never demonstrated them otherwise.

Steve
May 28th, 2010 | LINK

Blah, blah, blah. If you even have the time to listen to what this obese, deaf, prescription drug addict has to say then you must not have much going on in your life. It amazes me that this fat gas bag has been elevated to some presumed level of importance by parts of society. Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Michael Reagan, Bill O’Reilly and all the other white male blowhards are somehow important? Turn off the damn radio and quit supporting their money making machine. Although disgusting, I keep thinking of the large, soft, semi-formed bowel movements that emanate from Limbaugh as he expels the remnants of another cheeseburger.

Diogenes
May 28th, 2010 | LINK

One definition of psychopath is “narcissistic bully.”

Lynn David
May 28th, 2010 | LINK

I have read that Limbaugh had a ‘gay mentor’ by the name of Norm Woodruff, who ‘taught him how to dress.’ It’s sort of amusing to imagine the supposed tough-guy Limbaugh off on a care-free shopping spree with his gay ‘mentor.’

But let’s face it the GOP is somewhat ‘partisanly homophobic.’ Even Pete LaBarbera has praised Limbaugh. I don’t care to start agreeing with him now.

justsearching
May 29th, 2010 | LINK

“Whoever is not against us is for us.”
—Mark 9:40″

“He who is not with me is against me.”
—Matthew 12:30

I have no idea which of those two statements Jesus actually said, and to me it doesn’t particularly matter, but with regards to Limbaugh the second reflects how I feel about him. He’s miles away from being for us, and thus I consider him against us.

Don’t split hairs; I need my villains just as much as the Conservative Right does :D

Tara TASW
May 29th, 2010 | LINK

I really don’t care what his personal views are. I’m not even sure he has any, other than: (1) hate sells, and (2) most of the buyers are right-wingers.

Samuel
May 29th, 2010 | LINK

“I’m pretty familiar with the public positions of Log Cabin and I’m pretty sure that exists only in your imagination.”

Have you even bothered to speak to Log Cabin officers? I was at a Log Cabin meeting in SF back in the early 90’s. The leader at the time (Rich Tafel?) spoke glowingly of Rush and said that his audience was the exact group of people that LCR wanted to reach as potential members. They had blinders on to Rush’s homophobia and discounted it just as you are doing.

Neil D
May 29th, 2010 | LINK

Wow. Talk about trying to find a silver lining.

It’s a pity we console ourselves with the knowledge that Limbaugh may not actually hate us.

That doesn’t excuse his being wrong on just about everything else. Doesn’t his enabling the opposition on every other issue makes his relative silence on gay issues sort of unimportant?

Timothy Kincaid
May 29th, 2010 | LINK

Samuel,

Rich was not involved in Log Cabin leadership until the mid 90’s (1995, I’m guessing). And, knowing Rich (and all of the founders and early leaders of Log Cabin), I very much doubt that Rich spoke in glowing terms about Limbaugh.

Perhaps you think that you heard Tafel praising Limbaugh, but then again you also seem to think that I’m “discounting Limbaugh’s homophobia”, so I don’t accept your interpretation at face value. But, of course, I wasn’t at this meeting. Maybe you did hear someone praise Limbaugh and say that this is the audience that Log Cabin should go after. Stranger things have happened.

But, in any case, I think that Limbaugh’s current position as put out in his biography says a great deal about where he thinks his audience is/will be on gay issues. And I find that fascinating, even if you think it means that I’m not adequately hating on the blowhard.

Angie
May 29th, 2010 | LINK

I respectfully disagree with this assessment of Limbaugh. He’s made quite a few jokes at LGBT people’s expense:

http://mediamatters.org/search/index?qstring=&from=&to=&tags=rush_limbaugh&tags=&tags=&tags=lgbt

Samuel
May 29th, 2010 | LINK

“And, knowing Rich (and all of the founders and early leaders of Log Cabin), I very much doubt that Rich spoke in glowing terms about Limbaugh.”

There is no reason to become so defensive. It was exactly as I have stated. It was a small bar that Log Cabin periodically had get togethers at (in North Beach I think). I’m sorry that you can’t handle the truth, but the best thing for you to do is simply speak to your ‘friend’ Rich Tafel for confirmation. Pretty soon, gay Republicans are going to be similarly claiming that Dr. Laura Schlessinger was never that homophobic either – or that Justin Raimondo (openly gay) was right to run Pat Buchanan’s Presidential campaign, and Fred Karger was doing the right thing by contributing to Roy Ashburn’s campaign. The facts are out there for all to see.

Neil D
May 30th, 2010 | LINK

If Mr. Kinkaid wants to advocate for conservative principles, I have no problem with that. I’d like to pay less in taxes too. But this awkward defense of Limbaugh strikes me as an odd way to argue his point.

It’s as if Mr. Kinkaid wants to sanitize conservatism (and religion?)of its homophobia in order to justify his support.

Face facts, Mr. Kinkaid, they will never like you. Don’t worry though, they’re happy to let you sell the rest of us out in exchange for your tax cut.

Houndentenor
May 30th, 2010 | LINK

How long is it going to take people to realize that Limbaugh, Coulter and a whole host of others make a living by saying outrageous things. They live for a liberal overreaction to everything they say. This is all far more carefully constructed than it would seem and I’m not at all convinced that most of these right wing commentators believe a word of what they say. It’s an act.

Rush is looking at an aging audience. Younger conservatives are far less homophobic than the older generation and anyone smart enough to look at polling data (which everyone in politics and media does especially the ones that swear they don’t) quickly realizes that the social conservative agenda has an expiration date.

Besides, 60% of Republicans favor the repeal of DADT. I never saw a breakdown of those numbers but I feel certain that those numbers skew heavily towards younger voters in favor of the repeal. Limbaugh, who has an aging audience, if fighting to stay relevant. He’s a lot of things, most of them reprehensible, but he’s not stupid.

Ben in Oakland
May 30th, 2010 | LINK

Oh, please.

I’ll be happy for whatever support there is.

Fred in the UK
May 30th, 2010 | LINK

@Neil D, Why do you believe that conservatism in America is incapable of the same change of heart that has happened to the centre-right over most of Western Europe?

R
May 30th, 2010 | LINK

I’ve listened to him for years and years in the 90s when I was growing up. Rush believes that feminism only serves the purpose of helping “unattractive” women (because attractive women can just marry well to get what they want, since clearly lesbians like me and my wife don’t exist, or should be forced to marry men if we want anything, take your pick). Feminists are gay allies more often than not. Can someone who hates our allies, and ignores the very existence of lesbians be our friend?

Priya Lynn
May 30th, 2010 | LINK

That’s really something, R. Its hard to imagine that even Rush would be stupid enough to say something like that.

Neil D
May 31st, 2010 | LINK

@Fred in UK

I suppose it is possible there will be a change of heart among American conservatives. We are clearly subject to much less discrimination than we were even 20 or 30 years ago even as conservatism was all the rage. They haven’t made much progress keeping us in the closet. Yet they persist in their anti-gay rhetoric. I have no special insight into the conservative mind so it’s hard to know why they hate gays so much. Religion? Fear? A general dislike of diversity and disorder? A lack of empathy?

Timothy Kincaid
May 31st, 2010 | LINK

Samuel,

I’ve commented about Laura Schlessinger, here and here.

You probably will disapprove of that commentary as well.

Timothy Kincaid
May 31st, 2010 | LINK

Neil D,

Kindly point out for me the sentences in which I made a “defense of Limbaugh”, awkward or otherwise.

I’ve reread my commentary several times looking for the parts that led some readers to assume that I was defending Limbaugh, misrepresenting his history, or in any way suggesting that he’s an ally or anything other than boorish.

Perhaps people are reacting to something other than what I wrote.

Priya Lynn
May 31st, 2010 | LINK

Timothy said “Kindly point out for me the sentences in which I made a “defense of Limbaugh”, awkward or otherwise.”.

Well, here’s a couple:

“So I was not particularly surprised to read that Limbaugh’s personal beliefs and positions are not radically different from that of many of our supporters.”

“But even if so, what Limbaugh’s position clarification reveals is that he knows that anti-gay extremism has no future.”

Timothy Kincaid
May 31st, 2010 | LINK

R,

Good point. In my listing of “nudge nudge, wink wink humor, spiteful parodies, and coy race-based ‘comedy’”, I should have also included “blatant sexism“.

Houndentenor
May 31st, 2010 | LINK

The main difference between the right in the US and the right in Western Europe is that there is no equivalent of Christian fundamentalism in European politics. Yes, there are social conservatives but far fewer and far less obsessive than in America. I don’t for a second believe that most of the power-brokers in the GOP give a crap one way or the other about gays except as a wedge issue to appeal to people who do not benefit at all from their economic policies (and are often harmed by them).

Neil D
May 31st, 2010 | LINK

Your friend David Link at the independent gay forum linked to this post saying…

“Which brings me to Rush Limbaugh, and a savvy defense of him on gay rights. As Timothy Kincaid observes at Box Turtle Bulletin, while we’re used to assuming Rush is a Neanderthal reactionary on gay rights, that may not be correct.”

It was not only a defense, it was a “savvy defense”.

Why do Priya Lynn, David Link, and I all reach the same conclusion?

Look – it’s fine if you have some common ideology with Rush. Maybe you like the schtick. It’s not my thing and I find his brand of conservatism quite dangerous to America in general. I see no reason to give him any credit for not being a homophobe. It’s sort of like saying some criminal is nice to their mother so they can’t be all bad.

If you want to rehab conservatism in the minds of gays, go ahead. Certainly Rush is one of those problems you’ll have to overcome. This attempt didn’t convince me.

Timothy Kincaid
May 31st, 2010 | LINK

Neil,

I do not know why you, Priya Lynn, and David Link think the piece is a defense of Limbaugh. But I guess you guys do.

Oh well.

Thanks for the notice about Link’s comment, by the way.

Priya Lynn
May 31st, 2010 | LINK

Well, its not a wholehearted or unreserved defense of Limbaugh, you’ve included lots of criticism as well. I can’t quite find the words to describe it but something like a moderate, ambivalent, or mixed defense.

Josh
May 31st, 2010 | LINK

Timothy Kincaid’s conservative/Republican agenda on this blog is getting out of hand. It is very off putting.

Fred in the UK
June 1st, 2010 | LINK

@Houndentenor, I entirely agree with your comment about Christian fundamentalism. As you point out, younger conservative voters are far more comfortable with homosexuality than older conservative voters. I don’t doubt that the power-brokers in the GOP don’t care about gays, but do they care about Christian fundamentalists? When they day comes when they loose the GOP more votes than they win for it will they be tossed aside? Will underlying social trends trump the current holders of political power/influence?

As an aside, the modest progress on gay rights in a Democratic controlled Congress leads me to doubt the power-brokers of the Democratic party care about gays either.

Marlene
June 1st, 2010 | LINK

The reason why Rush has been so successful has been due to the deregulation of radio ownership, and the death of the Fairness doctrine.

When one company can own hundreds of stations across the country, then require them to air this fat, drug-addicted bigot’s bile, that ensures success. Not to mention the fact stations aren’t required to air opposing viewpoints, meant so-called “liberal” shows we doomed to fail.

Radio needs to be broken up to remove the monopoly, and just like many other industries needs to be heavily re-regulated again to ensure abuses are limited.

Jerry Sloan
June 7th, 2010 | LINK

Like Samuel I have followed his career since he was here in Sacramento. I do not believe one can believe ANYTHING that comes out of Limbaugh’s mouth.

Just prior to his leaving Sacramento a caller asked him why he did not have his own radio station. He replied that he might do something like that down the road but for now, “I am not through performing.”

So as far as I am concerned he considers himself an actor doing a role, i.e., stirring up the illerate masses.

One day as I was driving from Modesto, where I had spoklen to a GLBT student group, to Sacramento I was listening to him and a caller asked to repeat the “gerbil story.” Limbaugh then launched into a story he told many times about how gay men inserted gerbils into their rectums.

He said it must be so “because I have never had an irate homosexual call in and refute it.”

I said to myself “Honey, you want to see an irate queen I will show you one!”

I promptly filed a complaint with the Sacramento Human Rights Commission concerning his remarks about gays and the “ugly women” who belonged to NOW.

I wanted him to sit across the table from the president of the local chapter of NOW who was a knockout blonde and tell her she was ugly.

Unfortunately we were informed that Rush was leaving Sacramento in 6 weeks to start a national broadcast so for the most part our complaint was moot.

Limbaugh may have some kind private thoughts toward GLBT people but over the years his public record his dismal.

Burr
June 7th, 2010 | LINK

What’s the deal with Elton John performing at his whopping hypocritical 4th wedding? :P

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