Erik Larson

Jan 21, 2009

The Haters

Rush Limbaugh says that he hopes President Obama will fail . Is he serious? Wow, this surprised me. His “reasoning” seems to be that, if Obama succeeds, he will have succeeded only in ushering in socialist solutions to our current economic woes. Ergo, he must fail.

What’s interesting here is that Limbaugh isn’t saying that socialist policies will fail (put aside, for now, what constitutes “socialist”), but rather that if socialist policy succeeds, this is itself a failure for us. This, of course, is a complete tangle. If an economic remedy worked — if it succeeded — by any measure of success I’m aware of, the country would be (somewhat definitionally) better off . Because the policy worked! And so, Limbaugh is apparently at war with “socialistic policies” regardless of outcome. Now that’s an ideologue. Better that we plant both feet in traditional capitalism come hell or high water than try non-capitalist policies, because God forbid they might work (and then what?).

Of course I’m not a “socialist”; this not what I’m getting at. It’s just so over the top to want a President to fail, just to preserve some view of the world. This is not my view of America or politics generally.

On the other side of things, right-of-center thinkers especially, please take time to watch Countdown with Keith Olbermann and immediately after The Rachel Maddow Show. They’re so Rush Limbaugh. I get this perverse sense of superiority watching people with such a simple rubric, their whole raison d’etre predicated on the proposition that “the other side” is evil. It’s really good viewing.

Mainly, lately, it’s the simple idea with these shows that “Bush is evil”. That’s it. I’ve been watching. That’s pretty much it. It’s an almost religious calling to continually open wounds and fester them and spew forth venom at George Bush. Bush is an idiot, he should be accused of war crimes, he ruined the country , and on and on. I keep hoping, but there seems no possibility of acknowledging anything positive whatsoever about the Bush years. Nothing. There’s just this Limbaugh-like failure to accept or to even grasp the context of the former Administration, and indeed the precarious place that we all occupied in the wake of September 11.

Nothing but hatred… that’s easy enough. What’s harder is to try to figure out what happened, why particular decisions were made, what effects they had (positive and negative), and what can and should be done better next time. A sober, thoughtful analysis. But you won’t get this from Olbermann or Maddow.

In the same vein, Limbaugh ought to attempt a similar treatment of Obama’s current plans. But he won’t. And so you won’t get it from him either. And on and on the haters go.