As Chris Matthews learned (God, I hope he learned it), never let yourself be the subject of a cover story in The New York Times Magazine if you are a political windbag. (Danger, Keith Olbermann! You're next. Don't fall for it.)
It was Rush Limbaugh's turn this weekend and though he came off somewhat better, only because Rush is not wont to spew Matthews-esque nonsense as Chris himself is prone to diarrheacally do, his self-congratulatory, self-aggrandized, narcissistic egocentric self-paean and inadvertent caricature was nothing short of pathetic. How sad. Et tu, Rushbo? But don't blame him entirely, the allegedly objective author of this billet doux, drawn in by the Brobdingnagian world and image of the king himself, and though contracted by the dreaded New York Times, in no way comes anywhere near the hatchet job one would suspect this infamous liberal rag would inflict on a conservative darling of this stature. Lizzie Borden wasn't channeled. Even down to the "flattering" portraits of El Rey Rush (and I'm no dermatologist, but start wearing a hat pronto when you hit the links, babe, those ephelides scare me) and the needless photo of Number One Limbaugh clone, Sean "Watch Your Back, Rush" Hannity, and Rush's new squeeze, it was puff and fluff, an ode to a man more amazed and awed by his bank account then, well, we are.
Let me be plain, Rush: You came across as a diamond-encrusted, gold-plated jerk. A big mouth braggadocious blowhard Daddy Warbucks under the self-imposed delusion that your monetary worth and details of your riches would validate your position of, I guess, conservative polestar and Reagan avatar. You could have established yourself as the potential éminence grise of conservatism. And you have a legacy that is nothing short of amazing. You indeed saved the AM dial. You created a series of Manchurian Rush-wannabes, a host of Stepford Rushes (pronounced "Hannity") and rewrote political discourse. And despite all that, you harp on your dough. Show some class, man! Despite your riches, there are people in this country who could buy and sell you, those who love the low profile and let their accomplishments speak for themselves. And maybe I missed it, but is there any philanthropic venture he's at least tangentially involved in or with?
I read carefully and repeatedly Rush's balance sheet, er, profile. Wow. Move over Narcissus. Again, it wasn't about the conservative message, post-Reagan Reaganism, neo or paleo-conservatism. No. It was about Rush and his toys, his money, largesse. His elitism. The dreaded "E" word. The limousine liberals are all but dead. The Maybach megalomaniac has arrived. His type had the audacity to accuse Barack Obama of being an elitist, an elitist who just recently paid off his student loans. Just let that sink in . . . Barack Obama is being called an elitist by Rush Limbaugh and his hypnotically obeisant, hypocritical clones.
William F. Buckley, Jr., would have never detailed with specificity, or allowed it to occur, the particular grain of teak that festooned his yacht. Bill Gates never speaks of his particular rich boy gewgaws and toys. Only the "nouveauist" of the nouveau riche would deign to flaunt the trappings of his wealth as the sole indicia of success and validity. His fans and acolytes care little of his riches. Rush fails to mention and/or acknowledge Howard Stern, who, as it is reported, holds the current record for radio, albeit satellite, pecuniary success.
EXHIBIT A. The piece spoke "auto-erotically" of his Maybach 57S "which runs around $450,000 fully loaded." (So do I. Rimshot, please.) Thanks for the specs; maybe you could provide a link next time.
EXHIBIT B. The smokes: La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero Chisel stogies. Everyone at once: Ooooooo! Note the particular particularity as to brand and model. Conspicuously elitist, if you ask me. Note the label of said cheroot perfectly positioned on the cover so that it was readable. Marvelously tacky. Think leaving the original suit sleeve label on. (Look, it's a Kiton!) I wonder if this was also deft and deliberate endorsement placement as the article suggests Rush is on occasion known to do, i.e. weaving an endorsement into the context of a "story." Think Paul Harvey with a vengeance. Another mention anent cigar imagery -- no Lewinsky references hear -- in a most telling picture, Rush's page 31 photo: mouth somewhat agape, a freshly inhaled volume of smoke is allowed to waft in escape. I guess smoke rings were too difficult. But I kept thinking, that's it. He's blowing smoke ... up the collective proverbial keisters of the poor saps who think he's truly the conservative polestar and not a carnival huckster, but the big kahuna.
I'm sure the late conservative paterfamilias Barry Goldwater's looking down with pride knowing the "message" has a most able steward. And one last word on cigars, I'm sure glad Rush's stogie wasn't a Cuban. In fact, I sure hope he has none of them in his vast painstakingly-described humidor. Why, how hypocritical would that be? Just think, this great American buying a slave labor blood product that feeds Castro's Communist Cuba. Perish the thought.
EXHIBIT C. The stenographer, er, writer of the article notes: "On the table was a brochure for Limbaugh's newest airplane, a Gulfstream G550.It cost him, he told me, $54 million." Thanks, Rush. Got it. You're rich.
EXHIBIT D. When Zev Chafets, Limbaugh's hagiographer, notes that he (actually, the NYT) picked up the check at Rush's favorite Palm Beach restaurant and left a tip, certain to be de minimis by Limbaugh standards, Diamond Rush reminded him in a postprandial email about his notorious and humble beneficence at a New York joint. "He likes to throw down the most massive tips I've ever seen. The last few times his tips have been $5,000." Lest we'll forget, Rush is a big shot and a big tipper. And, oh yes, rich. Move over Rockefeller, Carnegie, Mellon, Gates and Buffett. Did I mention Rush drives a Maybach?
But remember, the man is talented, a great broadcaster and lucky. Very lucky. Lucky that he never met a Florida prosecutor who was verse with a Florida criminal statute that could easily have slapped Rush with a trafficking in "hillbilly heroin" (oxycodone) charge that could have resulted in a 25-year minimum mandatory sentence in the Florida State hoosegow. Minimum mandatory. No parole, no probation. 25 calendar years. Rush is lucky that he never met a prosecutor who followed his demands and ham-fisted exhortations to send drug dealers and users up the river. Rush is lucky indeed.
And rich. Did Rush make that clear? He's rich.
EXHIBIT E. But this, sadly, may say it all. "A life-size oil portrait of El Rushbo, as he often calls himself on the air, hangs on the wall of the main staircase." In his home. Where he lives alone. With a cat. My, my. A constant reminder of your greatness. As the admitted Francophile might want to consider, how déclassé.
Wouldn't a really big mirror have sufficed?