Saturday, October 18, 2003

Public figures removed from their jobs by the blogosphere for presumed racism

1) Trent Lott

2) Gregg Easterbrook

While certainly not equal in public stature, both of these men lost their jobs because they made remarks that some people considered racist, and they then failed to quickly clarify their remarks and apologize for offending others.

Easterbrook says that he realized 20 minutes after writing the offending paragraph what he had done. He could have yanked that paragraph off right then and attached a small note apologizing to anyone who had already read it. I still don't understand why he didn't do that.

UPDATE: Colby Cosh's thoughts on the subject are required reading. I have to admit that my first instinct after reading about Easterbrook's firing was to scream at Roger Simon and Meryl Yourish "ARE YOU HAPPY NOW, YOU #&*$!?" After some further thought, though, I'm not going to lay any blame at their door for his firing, because only Gregg Easterbrook and ESPN are really responsible for that. It's true that Easterbrook might not have been fired if they hadn't overreacted by calling his stuff "racist garbage" and saying that he "looks like a totally bigoted ass, " respectively; but they were, like Easterbrook, only expressing legitimate opinions, and there was no way to foresee these particular consequences. Like Cosh, I think we need to be very careful in calling someone a racist or anti-Semite.
TMQ gone

Another blogger has alerted me through Roger Simon's comments to the fact that ESPN has deleted all of Easterbrook's past columns. That's right, they have apparently not only fired him, they have deleted everything that he's ever written. I know that his columns were there last night, because I used them in writing my previous post.

This is really sad. The lesson here is that people have to be extremely careful about their language when mentioning those of another race or religion ... unless you want to criticize Christians or white people, because we all know they're still fair game.

ESPN, of course, is owned by Disney ... whose CEO is Michael Eisner, recently the subject of Easterbrook's commentary. Coincidence?

UPDATE: Roger Simon has said that he also doesn't think that Easterbrook should have been fired.

UPDATE: Here's the URL to give ESPN some "feedback" about Easterbrook's firing. I've already given mine, and it wasn't pretty.

Friday, October 17, 2003

Easterbrook Update

Well, Roger Simon and Meryl Yourish have accepted Easterbrook's apology, though Simon doesn't appear convinced that Easterbrook isn't really an anti-Semite.

Yourish specifically takes issue with a statement in my previous post, in which I said:

Yourish seems to be saying that Easterbrook, because he isn't Jewish, can't criticize a few specific Jewish individuals for not respecting their ethnic history. I don't agree.

Meryl, if that bothers you, I'll take it back. You are correct that your original post does not say anything specifically about Jews being criticized my non-Jews. But if I'm going to do that, then perhaps you should read this sentence again from your original post: And is he actually implying in that last sentence that Jewish film executives are partly responsible for Muslim terrorism? Since Easterbrook said nothing of the kind, your criticism of me seems hypocritical. If I had phrased my statement in the form of a rhetorical question and replaced "seems to be saying" with "imply," would that have made my statement OK?

I'd also like to address your other criticism, that I seem unwilling to understand to understand why Jews might be offended by Easterbrook's original column. To the contrary, I certainly understand why Easterbrook's column might have seemed offensive upon first reading. He used buzzwords that reflect classic anti-Semetic stereotypes. I just thought that his post needed a careful, honest second reading, combined with putting the issue in the context of his past screeds against movie violence (see here, here, and here, including specific mention of "Hollywood executives" [UPDATE: links now don't work since ESPN deleted them]). Doing that made it clear to me that Easterbrook's blog entry was not an indication of anti-Semetism, and I certainly think that people deserve a chance to explain themselves (which Easterbrook admitedly took too long to do) before saying that they "look like a totally bigoted ass."

Anyway, can we just get back to criticizing the real anti-Semites now?

UPDATE: Isntapundit has had a rough time with this and makes a lot of good points.

UPDATE: Josh Chafetz worked with Easterbrook and has the last word.
Tax referendum in Ohio

I haven't kept up with this story as well as I would like, but as best as I can tell it's an effort to stop some RINOs from imposing new taxes to pay for runaway spending. I had to laugh, though, when I read that Ken Blackwell's opponents are claiming that Blackwell just wants to get attention for a possible gubernatorial campaign in 2006. I met Blackwell while working for the Forbes campaign, and I can tell you that opposition to high taxes runs deep through his bones. This is definitely not a publicity stunt, and I wish him luck.

UPDATE: Here's a great WSJ editorial that explains why this tax revolt is such good news for conservatives.
Domino alert

President Bush's plan to transform the Middle East is getting results, no matter how much the liberals sneer.

Weekly Standard hits a home run

"Supreme Court Halts Recount, Dashes Red Sox Pennant Hopes"

This is great, but I'm hoping that some of the baseball talk in the blogosphere will slow down a little. Reading some political blogs lately, I've been missing the politics.
Hosting Matters crash

Hmm ... maybe I shouldn't be too quick to leave Blogger after all.

Easterbrook apologizes for wording

AN APOLOGY: Nothing's worse, as a writer, than so mangling your own use of words that you are heard to have said something radically different than what you wished to express. Of mangling words, I am guilty.


Looking back I did a terrible job through poor wording. It was terrible that I implied that the Jewishness of studio executives has anything whatsoever to do with awful movies like Kill Bill. Nothing about Eisner or Weinstein causes any movie to be bad or awful; they're just supervisors. For all I know neither of them even focused on the adoration-of-violence aspect until the reviews came out. My attempt to connect my perfectly justified horror at an ugly and corrupting movie to the religious faith and ethnic identity of certain executives was hopelessly clumsy.

Where I failed most is in the two sentences about adoration of money. I noted that many Christian executives adore money above all else, and in the 20-minute reality of blog composition, that seemed to me, writing it, fairness and fair spreading of blame. But accusing a Christian of adoring money above all else does not engage any history of ugly stereotypes. Accuse a Jewish person of this and you invoke a thousand years of stereotypes about that which Jews have specific historical reasons to fear. What I wrote here was simply wrong, and for being wrong, I apologize.

Every reporter who has called me today has asked me my faith. Since I say this is relevant for others, it's relevant for me. I'm a Christian. I worship in one of the handful of joint Christian-Jewish congregations in the United States. This website describes the Bradley Hills Presbyterian (USA) side of the church. This website describes Bethesda Jewish, a Klal Yisrael ("All Israel") congregation that shares the same worship spaces and finances. Two years ago I wrote in The New Republic of the Bradley Hills-Bethesda Jewish joint congregation, "One of the shortcomings of Christianity is that most adherents downplay the faith's interweaving with Judaism." I and my family sought out a place where Christians and Jews express their faith cooperatively, which seems to me a good idea. Bad idea: writing poorly about this, and being misunderstood. Again, I'm sorry.

This is good. Only, like the Instaman says, he should have done it right away. For crying out loud, Gregg, if you realized 20 minutes after your post that there was a problem, then you should have posted an update right then and cleared everything up. This story would never have appeared in the New York Times. Easterbrook apparently still doesn't really get how the whole blogging thing works, but I think his apology pretty thoroughly repudiates any thought that he's an anti-Semite -- I wonder if those who viciously attacked him will now take it back.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Evangelical Christians unfit to serve?

Via Jim Miller, I'm absolutely infuriated by this article in the Los Angeles Times that suggests that military officers and defense department officials should not be allowed to speak in evangelical churches because it "might send the wrong message."

What message? The fact that we are supposed to have freedom of speech and religion in this country? Look at how biased this paragraph is:

Although the Army has seldom if ever taken official action against officers for outspoken expressions of religious opinion, outside experts see remarks such as Boykin's as sending exactly the wrong message to the Arab and Islamic world.

So it's OK for the Army to employ radical Wahabbi Islamist extremists as chaplains and translators, but it's not OK for a Christian to express his views in church? I mean, it doesn't seem that Gen. Boykin called a press conference to announce his religious beliefs to the world -- it looks like someone recorded his church appearances and decided to "expose" him.

Let me see if I can find the words for my outrage ... Gen. Boykin's speaking in churches would not have sent "the wrong message" to our Arab "friends" if the L.A. Times hadn't somehow decided that it was news and decided to make a story out of it! If anyone in this situation is hurting America, it is NBC and the L.A. Times.

And the L.A. Times has a lot of nerve to be talking about the messages that anyone sends, coming from a paper that's still sending the wrong message on the war. The liberal media and their Democratic friends have sent the Islamic world the message that the war in Iraq has turned into a quagmire and American public opinion is turning against President Bush because of it. "Hey you Islamist fanatics," they say, "just send a few more suicide bombers into Iraq and maybe we'll pull the plug on the whole thing!" Hypocrites.

UPDATE: Donald Rumsfeld is defending Gen. Boykin -- good for him. Meanwhile, check out this quote:

Senators who appeared before reporters at the Pentagon Thursday on another matter were asked about the reports. Sen. Lincoln D. Chafee, R-Rhode Island, said he had not been aware of Boykin's views as described by the Times, then added, "If that's accurate, to me it's deplorable."

Yeah, it's really deplorable that we have people in this country who believe that their religion is right and that others are wrong -- how disgusting. Why can't all those Evangelical Christians simply agree that all religions are equally valid? And how can Gen. Boykin say that Osama is motivated by Satan? After all, one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. Those Christians should keep their mouths shut, or other nations might get the idea that most Americans are Christian or something. [/sarcasm]

We get closer every day to the time when persecution of Christians is going to tear this country apart.

UPDATE: Good for Gen. Myers for saying that he has also appeared at prayer meetings in uniform. It's too bad that Gen Boykin "indicated that he had learned a lesson" -- I wish he had been a little more defiant, but I can certainly understand that he'd probably rather make news by catching Saddam.

UPDATE: Cut on the Bias correctly calls this a new "don't ask, don't tell provision for the religious in the military." Yes, except that the bigoted policy only applies to Evangelical Christians -- radical Muslims, for example, can say whatever they like.

UPDATE: Chris Regan gets it too.
Rush Limbaugh and hypocrisy

I know that every conservative columnist has already written something about Rush, but if you're still hungry for more, then go read Ann Coulter. Sample graf:

When a conservative can be the biggest thing in talk radio, earning $30 million a year and attracting 20 million devoted listeners every week – all while addicted to drugs – I'll admit liberals have reason to believe that conservatives are some sort of super-race, incorruptible by original sin. But the only perfect man hasn't walked the Earth for 2,000 years. In liberals' worldview, any conservative who is not Jesus Christ is ipso facto a "hypocrite" for not publicly embracing dissolute behavior the way liberals do.

The case against "gay marriage"

Wow. David Frum lays out the case against "gay marriage" in clear, dramatic fashion. This is the best answer I have seen as to why the gay rights movement will cause irreparable harm to marriage. Frum points out that "marriage" will not usually be what is adopted in most states, but instead some kind of "civil partnership." He then lays out the consequences:

It is highly unlikely that these proliferating domestic partnerships would be offered to same-sex couples alone. That might even be unconstitutional, a deprivation of equal protection, but certainly it would be politically impossible. Every American city and state that offers domestic-partnership benefits offers them equally to heterosexuals and homosexuals. The result of a national trend toward same-sex marriage would be that the young people of the country would be presented with 50 different buffets, each of them offering two or more varieties of quasi-marital relationships. In such a world, the very concept of marriage would vanish.

Please read the whole thing.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Nobel Freedom Prize

Pejman Yousefzadeh has a TCS column up on a subject that I'd been meaning to blog about myself, namely that the Nobel committee seems to have a bit of an identity crisis. Some years they award a Peace Prize, and some years it seems that they award a "Freedom Prize."

Pejman argues persuasively that freedom is more important than peace and the name of the prize should reflect that.

President Bush raises $83 million to date

And he'll collect at least another $2 million this week. I know that the campaign eventually wants to raise $170 million, but this is still very impressive.
Democratic presidential campaign update

Here, from Howard Fineman. Interesting and (in my opinion) accurate.

Racial censorship

How appropriate! Today, Walter Williams has a column pointing out the double standard on discussion of racial issues.

Race and taking offense

I've been discussing several race-related issues lately, and I think they all have some commonalities.

Gregg Easterbook and Rush Limbaugh have both recently been attacked as racist for making comments that were not racist. I've also been discussing the Willie Horton ads, which were widely criticized as racist even though they were not.

In all three cases, the principles could have avoided the controversy by being a little more careful. Easterbrook could definitely have phrased his comments differently and avoided this current brouhaha, as could Rush. If Willie Horton had been a scary-looking white murderer instead of a scary-looking black murderer, the GOP would enjoy a much better relationship with black Americans today.

As a Christian, I believe that people have an obligation to avoid actions which hurt others. So even though I think Easterbrook and Limbaugh were basically correct in their remarks -- and both were certainly not racist -- they should have been more careful not to hurt others, as should the makers of the Willie Horton ad (which was not the Bush campaign, by the way). Racial tensions in our world are not likely to disappear soon, so we all need to be careful in how we frame our remarks.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

The Holocaust and movie violence

Meryl Yourish is furious with Gregg Easterbrook for some comments that he made in his blog implying that Jewish movie executives, because of the Holocaust, should have a higher awareness of the problems associated with glorifying senseless murders.

I see where Yourish is coming from, but she exaggerates what Easterbrook says and reads things into his comments that aren't there, so I'm going to reprint the key graf from his blog:

Set aside what it says about Hollywood that today even Disney thinks what the public needs is ever-more-graphic depictions of killing the innocent as cool amusement. Disney's CEO, Michael Eisner, is Jewish; the chief of Miramax, Harvey Weinstein, is Jewish. Yes, there are plenty of Christian and other Hollywood executives who worship money above all else, promoting for profit the adulation of violence. Does that make it right for Jewish executives to worship money above all else, by promoting for profit the adulation of violence? Recent European history alone ought to cause Jewish executives to experience second thoughts about glorifying the killing of the helpless as a fun lifestyle choice. But history is hardly the only concern. Films made in Hollywood are now shown all over the world, to audiences that may not understand the dialogue or even look at the subtitles, but can't possibly miss the message--now Disney's message--that hearing the screams of the innocent is a really fun way to express yourself.

Yourish accuses Easterbrook of characterizing Jews as money-grubbing and says that he looks "like a totally bigoted a$$." She also says:

That is one unbelievable ethical standard to hold Jews up to. That's right, the Jews have to be the most righteous among all nations, because six million of ours were slaughtered. Your logic is missing a crucial step here, though. The Jews weren't slaughtered in the Holocaust as a result of people reading the violent popular fiction of the day. The Jews were slaughtered because of bigotry and hatred.

Come to think of it, back in the 1930s, people were blaming Jews for being money-grubbing worshippers of the almighty deutschmark at the expense of the Fatherland's more moral Germans. So if one is going to draw a parallel here, one might draw one at Easterbrook's slap at Jewish movie executives, rather than comparing their financing of a film hack to drawing down the responsibility of Arab terrorism on their heads.

All the while, of course, giving the Hollywood Christian executives (and other religions) a complete pass.

I don't think Easterbrook in any way meant to characterize Jews as money-grubbing -- I think that he meant to characterize all Hollywood executives as money-grubbing. Easterbrook has a valid point that perhaps the most gratuitously violent movie ever will have no socially redeeming value and will inspire violence. We will certainly eventually debate whether certain "copycat" crimes can directly be attributed to the movie, etc. And there can be no question that Hollywood's immorality is a significant factor in the "why does the world hate us?" question (something, by the way, usually overlooked by those liberals who would prefer to say that "they" hate us because of President Bush).

Yourish seems to be saying that Easterbrook, because he isn't Jewish, can't criticize a few specific Jewish individuals for not respecting their ethnic history. I don't agree. Hollywood Jews have made many movies, including great ones like Schindler's List, about the Holocaust. They have done this so that people would not forget the suffering and violence done to the Jewish people, and also as a personal testimonial of the ways that the Holocaust has affected them personally. If that's true, then it's certainly fair to say that the impact of the Holocaust should inform their judgment concerning the desensitization of violence.

It's preposterous to say that one's ethnic history shouldn't inform one's thinking. Yourish's ethnic history certainly informs her thinking -- which seems to be exactly the point Easterbrook is making.

(By the way, the one detail that I think that Easterbrook gets wrong is in making the issue about religion by bringing Christianity into the discussion. Hollywood executives aren't Christian, nor for the most part, are they observant Jews. Hollywood is a highly secular place, and I don't think most executives have much faith of any kind. Anti-Semitism is, from everything that I've seen, more directed against those of Jewish descent than those who specifically practice Judaism. With regard to Hollywood, I believe the issue is related more to race than religion.)

UPDATE: Why is there a rush to condemn Easterbrook as a racist anti-Semite? Has he written bigoted things in the past? If so, I've never seen any.

To reiterate: Easterbrook's point was that we should learns lessons from past racism. His blog entry was obviously not racially hateful; it was instead arguing that past racial hate is something that we should learn from.

UPDATE II: I'll criticize Easterbrook a little by saying that I think such references as his tend to trivialize the Holocaust. I don't believe that we should try to use that event as standard reference point for morality comparisons -- the Holocaust is always much more evil than whatever is being compared to it, and making such a comparison usually tends to diminish the Holocaust by the association. (This is also my objection when people say things such as: "Bush and Ashcroft are Nazis!")

UPDATE III: Isntapundit basically agrees with me.
Domino effect

Here's some more lawlessness and instability in the Middle East, no doubt caused by American imperialistic bullying.

Affluent Genocide

There's an excellent article in FrontPage Magazine today by Robert Spencer that completely debunks the myth that Islamofanaticism is caused by poverty and lack of education. He writes about Hanadi Jaradat, a young affluent woman who had just graduated from law school when she decided to become a "martyr" for Islamic Jihad and kill Israelis. Money grafs:

“The Americans love Pepsi-Cola, we love death,” said Maulana Inyadullah of al-Qaeda in the aftermath of September 11. He and Hanadi Jaradat love death so much that they are ready to bring it upon others in line with their understanding of the ways of Allah: “Those who love the life of this world more than the Hereafter, who hinder (men) from the Path of Allah and seek therein something crooked: they are astray by a long distance” (Sura 14:3).

Until moderate Muslims drop their posture of denial about the Islamic roots and appeal of suicide bombing, there will be more and more deaths. Until they recognize Maulana Inyadullah’s strange love and work to eradicate it from Islam, we will see many more Hanadi Jaradats.

As I've written before, I completely agree with the assessment that the problem we face is more religious than political.

Monday, October 13, 2003

More defense of Rush

Some very good points are made here by the VodkaPundit.

Also read this post from Tom Bevan at RealClear Politics.

UPDATE: Finally, John Podhoretz is also required reading.
Old fart idiot TV blatherers like Andy Rooney

Jeff Jarvis posts a hilarious dissection of Andy Rooney. You have to read it.
The next Willie Horton?

David Adesnik keeps begging his readers to go read Phil Carter's blog, but I have to say that boneheaded posts like this one with regard to the Lackawanna six don't make me excited to jump over there very often. If I want to get silly Democratic wishful thinking about the 2004 Presidential election, I can just go visit the Democratic Underground.

Terrorism will likely be an issue in the 2004 presidential election, as either a subset of national security or a major issue in its own right. I believe the Democratic candidates will soon start to use this issue in the primaries to appeal to their core constituencies -- liberal Americans who feel their civil liberties are at risk with the current administration. The Lackawanna Six case will be a major piece of that argument, just as President Bush used the Willie Horton case in 1988 to appeal to the fears of moderate and conservative voters. (In principle the two are the same; in practice the latter is inherently more dirty than the other as far as political tactics go.) In the general election, I believe this will be an issue too. The Democrats will likely use this issue as a wedge to separate moderates from the Republican Party, and I think they will be successful.

Now I'm sorry to have to say this, but that's just stupid. How on earth are the Lackawanna six going to resemble Willie Horton? The Lackawanna six are in jail and I don't think they are going to be let out on a furlough. Willie Horton was out of jail because of a liberal, soft-on-crime attitude from Governor Dukakis. President Bush is supposed to be soft on terrorists?

It's true that Democratic candidates can say that we should be doing more to protect our national security, and they may have a case if there's another major attack before the election, but as of now I don't see any way the Democrats will be able to successfully attack the President on this issue. After all, we've now been over two years without any major terrorist attacks against the US. As things stand today, President Bush will be rightly be able to take credit for protecting America -- the issue will be huge positive for the President in his campaign.

UPDATE: I also don't want to let pass the idea that the Willie Horton ads represent a "dirty political tactic." Here are the facts:

William Horton brutally raped a woman and stabbed her fiance in Maryland after walking away from a weekend prison furlough in Massachusetts. Horton was a monster who was nonetheless allowed to walk out of jail despite the fact that he had been sentenced to two consecutive life terms plus 85 years.

After Horton committed his crimes, Gov. Dukakis vetoed a bill that would have stopped the prison furloughs for those convicted of first-degree murder because he said it would "cut the heart out of inmate rehabilitation."

The reason that the Horton issue was brought up in the campaign was because it was a classic and accurate example of Democrats being soft on crime. That's why it was first raised by Al Gore (not George H. W. Bush) in a debate with Dukakis.

Willie Horton was the single worst example of the Massachusetts furlough program. If he had been white, he still would have been a huge campaign issue that would have benefited George H. W. Bush. The ad was unquestionably not "dirty." What was dirty was the liberalism that allowed vicious criminals to walk out of jail and escape to commit more crimes.

Unfortunately, Willie Horton was black, and the campaign ad was widely portrayed as demonizing black Americans as criminals. It ended up hurting the GOP with minority voters for years, especially after David Duke ran as a Republican in 1990 and 1991.

With the advent of mandatory minimum sentences for many crimes and the trend started by Rudy Giuliani of tough policing, crime has declined in America. The Horton case serves as a reminder as to what happens when liberalism goes unchecked.

UPDATE II: Phil Carter has responded by posting an update to his original post. I still don't think that there is any logical comparison between Lackawanna and Willie Horton -- in fact, I think his update actually shows just how silly the comparison is.

One of the reasons they are supposedly similar in that each is "an issue which appeals to each party's respective base, as well as moderates." Of course, 99% of all political ads and issues fall into this category!

Carter also says that the similarity is "You can't trust this candidate on X issue" that lies behind each. In Horton's case, it was "You can't trust Mike Dukakis to be tough on crime." In this case, it will be "You can't trust John Ashcroft with your civil liberties. So the issues are alike because one candidate is too soft on crime and the other is too tough? That makes sense only if opposites are judged to be similar.

The idea that ordinary people are going to be afraid of John Ashcroft locking them up seems to be very common among certain Democrats. I can only hope that their nominee decides to make this a major issue in the campaign.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Disgusting smear of Limbaugh

I expected the sneers and laughs of the liberals like those commenting on the Democratic Underground or on the Daily Kos. They are quite predictable and completely inhuman. Typical example:


Now, we all know what he WOULDN'T (not couldn't, but wouldn't) tell you stupid conservative B**CHES! (Until today.) The story is, RUSH IS A JUNKIE! No different than a dirty old crackhead standing out on a street corner. No different than that wino laying in the gutter with a brown paper bag over his "Mad Dog" 20/20, you know that wino, the one covered in his own urine. (At least his drug of choice is legal.) That's what Rush is!

Also, conservatives, cut out the "God-bless-Rush-and-Marta" crap! You know like I know, she's just after his money! C'mon, you know it's true. Smart, cute little blonde thing like her -- she could have done WAY better than that big, fat, drug addict. (ADDICT!) She probably fed him all those pills to make it easier for her to wrap her greedy little fingers around his money. (Okay, I admit, I have no evidence of this about Marta, but, c'mon, admit it! This subjecture of mine, you have thought it, too, haven't you? Haven't you!) . . .

. . . Somebody, please, point me to a conservative board where I can go be obnoxious as all hell! Seriously. Please.

Here's another:

I have NO sympathy for Rush Limbaugh.Death to all Republicans for their lying hypocritical ways. Send him up the river for life!

Anyway, all this could be completely expected. What I didn't expect was for Newsweek, as liberal as that magazine is, to go as far as it did with it's hatchet job. Read some of these quotes from this cover story:

Limbaugh's long-running act as a paragon of virtue is over. Now the question is whether he can make a virtue out of honesty ...

Granted, Limbaugh's act has won over, or fooled, a lot of people ...

"What's your idea of an ideal day?" "I don't have an ideal day," he replied, glumly. "Well, what if a good friend came into town one Saturday, what would you do?" "When I have someone coming into town for the weekend, I get stressed out on Tuesday thinking about it." Limbaugh went on to say that he hates walking, hates window-shopping and likes New York mainly because you can order in ...

Limbaugh's own mother remarked on his somewhat passive-aggressive reticence as a child ...

Limbaugh lasted only a year in college. He jokes that he flunked Public Speaking. Actually, he got a D his speaking teacher, Dr. Bill Stacy, told NEWSWEEK ...

But his personal life left something to be desired. Despite his fervent moralizing, he smoked a little pot and watched a little porn (as he has publicly admitted). His first two marriages failed. His second wife, Michelle, told Vanity Fair that Limbaugh's father never quite approved of his career path, and that Rush would be depressed and deflated every time he got off the phone with his dad. He struggled with his weight, which ballooned to as high as 320 pounds ...

His self-absorption made dating difficult ...

Gee, Evan, are you sure you didn't leave anything out? Maybe Rush has some more personal failings that you missed -- are you sure he hasn't beaten his dog or anything?

The story contains no mention of the large sums of money that Rush has raised for charity playing numerous celebrity golf tournaments. (How does that not contradict the image of Rush lying on his couch every weekend?) In fact, it contains nothing at all that's positive about Rush.

So many of the things in the above story are completely false and misleading. Anyone who listens to Rush's show knows that he is actually a very humble person and he's never maintained an "act as a paragon of virtue."

What happened to Rush is tragic. He was prescribed medication for the intense back pain he suffered after surgery, and he became addicted as a result. He's now taking responsibility for that addiction and is fighting to stop it.

As Gary Bauer said, “From a moral standpoint, there’s a difference between people who go out and seek a high and get addicted and the millions of Americans dealing with pain who inadvertently get addicted.”

Quite right.
Dull Democrats

Even the very liberal Eleanor Clift recognizes how unappealing the Democratic presidential contenders are:

After all-Arnold, all-the-time, making the transition to the dreary Democrats is a hard sell. Whatever you think of the California recall, the theatricality of Schwarzenegger’s political debut made the Democrats seem even more charismatically challenged than usual as they lined up to debate Thursday in Phoenix.

She's right -- there's no question that the California recall has hurt the ability of the Democratic wannabes to connect with the voters.

Clift also recognizes, as I have said repeatedly, that the campaign is a Dean vs. somebody race, and Gephardt, Kerry, Clark -- and Lieberman and Edwards to a lesser extent -- are all fighting to be that somebody who emerges to represent the Democratic establishment.

The top candidates would have more success in getting people to focus on the race if they didn't have to share the stage with Sharpton, Kucinich, and Moseley-Braun -- who of course have no chance. A debate without them would allow allow more spontaneity and would give the serious candidates more time to expound on their views, but it won't happen anytime soon. Anyone want to guess why?

UPDATE: Monday's Novak column confirms Clark's poor performance and adds:

Although Gen. Clark did not look ready for prime time, his experienced competitors did not look much better.

Sometimes, it's really hard for me to believe that one of these guys is actually going to represent their party in the general election.

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