Friday, October 28, 2005

RUSH LIMBAUGH ON THE DRUG PROBLEM

(I should say, in the interest of full disclosure, that I use a drug extensively. I’m drinking a rum and soda as I write this. I have used alcohol for 50 years.

Also, on one extended R & R at home from Viet Nam, I started popping Miltowns (an anti-depressant) like candy. I gradually, on my own, weaned myself down until I was clean.

Those are the only drugs I have ever used.)

Conservatives often demagogue the drug problem. Their common sense is held prisoner by the fear of upsetting their constituency. Very few have the courage to step up and be a leader.

When they do address the drug problem, they appear to be clueless.

Rush Limbaugh is a good example.

I listened to him religiously when his program first went nationwide. He was like a breath of fresh air. He was saying all the things most of us believed but had no chance to express. His was the voice of the common man.

But here is how he handled the drug issue. I heard him narrate this story more than once when the subject of legalizing marijuana came up. This was many years ago, long before he became a drug addict himself.

He worked with a guy, he told us, who used marijuana. This guy’s marijuana use then expanded into heavier drugs and he became an addict and his life went down the drain. End of story.

Marijuana, he would then lecture us, is a gateway drug and therefore should not be legalized.

Alright class, how many things can you see wrong with this argument?

Right, it is an anecdote about one man. We should not make the experiences of one man, even if true, the basis of national policy.

Okay. What else?

Right, he mentioned only marijuana as a gateway drug. What is a far more common gateway drug?

Right, alcohol, and why didn’t he mention that?

Right, because he uses alcohol and that would weaken his argument.

Now I have great respect for Rush Limbaugh. His ability to formulate an argument verbally might be unmatched in history. But he has had a nemesis or two (I don’t include Al Franken, who is a lightweight).

In his early years, Limbaugh got trumped a couple of times by very intelligent callers-in. That caused him to formulate the policy of: “It is the caller’s job to make the host look good.” So he wouldn’t take any more calls from anyone who had showed him up.

In his first year on national radio, the subject of abortion came up. He would give no opinion on the subject but said he would “think about it“ for a few days. Of course he was asking his audience for guidance. He had no dog in that fight. He was a 300+ pound fat man.

So he waited three days, got the feed-back from his audience, and came out firmly and eloquently pro-life, anti-abortion. He has been a staunch pro-lifer ever since.

That led me to the opinion that childless fat men should have no say and no vote on the subject of abortion. It should be obvious that their passions and interests are elsewhere.

The important point is that he had to check with his listeners before he could have an opinion. I doubt that he would risk alienating them on anything of grave national importance like drug policy. That is why much of his position should be discounted.

Intelligent discussion of drug policies should be led by liberals. But they are in such disarray they are unable to contribute anything positive to the country right now. On the contrary, they are likely to oppose anyone to their right who might bring up the subject.

It will take a man or group with courage from the center to broach this subject. Perhaps McCain’s little gang?

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