When creating a curriculum to move society toward an integral media, the first contemporary personality that begs to be assessed is Rush Limbaugh. Rush is one of the most listened too, if not the most listened to media personality in the country. (‘Today’s Tom Sawyer, mean, mean pride.’1) He certainly has a knack for controversy that compels the public to either ‘love’em’ or ‘hate’em,’ which is precisely why I remain so ambivalent. As life teaches us, there are few who are fully inspired by divine goodness or completely consumed by absolute evil. Even Dick Cheney strings cute ceremonial necklaces from the skulls of the newborn puppies he devours. See? Not all bad. Anyway, an examination of Rush Limbaugh’s strengths and weaknesses provides excellent insight into the rights and responsibilities of the media.
Let’s first examine Limbaugh’s flaws. He focuses on limited, very pigeonholed subject matter. Whereas he may not qualify as a full-blown White House spokesperson, he does spend an exorbitant amount of time uncovering the liberal agenda and criticizing their irrational ideology and unethical propaganda techniques (U.P.T). He’s very good at examining international tyranny and United Nations corruption, but he rarely brings the Republicans antics under the same scrutiny (not an easy trick in the last eight years). There were conservative voices, such as Pat Buchanan and George Will, who presented a challenge to the current war in Iraq and a slew of other questionable executive policies. Rush Limbaugh only challenged the radical liberals who were sabotaging our war efforts. In other words, in the true spirit of partisan hackery, he picks all of his fights with the Murthas, not the Hagels, of the world.
Rush Limbaugh’s perspective is obviously authoritative/entrepreneurial, which is legitimate, but shortsighted. Despite his shrewd intellect, he shows not an inkling of integral thought. The only paranormal or transrational propositions that Limbaugh doesn’t immediately dismiss as crazy are the beliefs in Jesus’ virgin birth and his subsequent resurrection. Everything else to him can be translated roughly as: Kuccininch Sees UFOs!
To Limbaugh’s credit, he was one of the first outspoken voices against the dangers of political correctness. He even defended his politically incorrect adversary, Bill Maher, after Maher’s controversial comments following 9 /11. Limbaugh does bring consistent bursts of wit to his show, and most importantly, he has successfully irritated Hillary Clinton on a number of occasions.
Here’s how Rush holds up to Ken Wilber’s Four Quadrant model: from the objective/individual (brain) quadrant, Limbaugh rates fairly high. He does seem to respect science, objective facts, individual and constitutional rights, as well as economic libertarianism (grade: B.)
From the subjective/individual (self) quadrant, Limbaugh has some trouble. He still holds to mythical beliefs like ‘Jesus died for humanity’s sins’ and ‘the Republican party is good for America’ and uses these myths to perpetuate ideological agendas. I never recall him expressing interest or respect for a disciplined meditative practice, and his unacknowledged hypocrisy on the issue of his drug use shows a lack of personal awareness (grade: C –.)
The objective/plural (society) quadrant brings even more problems. He does support social, legal, and military structures but refuses to acknowledge shortcomings of these institutions and offers no constructive suggestions for outmoded bureaucracies. He has blindly supported the psychiatric method of clinically diagnosing the insane in order to restrict their rights and get them off the street against their will, yet he cries ‘liberal bleeding hearts’ when a person is deemed not responsible for their actions due to mental illness. Then he wants to cut welfare and social services for the freeloading prescription and otherwise drug dependent individuals—other than himself (grade: D.)
Limbaugh scores surprisingly high in the subjective/plural (culture) quadrant. He is a good sharp-witted debater who makes some strong logical points on meaningful subjects (aka, does Kuccinich see UFOs?). He recognizes the hierarchy of positions, policy, culture, and government, but he seems unaware of any integral voices. Perhaps most telling, he rarely gets a topnotch adversary to challenge his positions. Oh yeah, and he’s a belligerent asshole (grade: C.)
In summary: one part man, one part fiction, Rush is a pill-popping contradiction.
(Overall score: C -.)
1“Tom Saywer”, from RUSH’s Moving Pictures, 1981