The Truth, Mainly - 11/18/1996

Driving deep to fathom the Clinton-Limbaugh conspiracy
by Leon Satterfield

While other pundits nibble on the surface of election results, I dive deep into the Nether World of Intrigue and find, once again, that nothing is as it seems.

As you probably guessed, I'm thinking about how the re-election of Bill Clinton impacts Rush Limbaugh.

(To pundits who are Deep Divers, "to impact" is a transitive verb, as in "Jared Tomich very much desires to impact Koy Detmer.")

On the surface, it appears that Rush took it in the shorts, right? After all, he spent the last four years criticizing whatever he found criticizable about the Clintons. To wit:

Hillary had O. J. rub out Vince because he was on the verge of telling Bill about the affair. The Clintons weren't a proper First Family because Chelsea wasn't pretty enough. The Clinton cabinet wasn't a proper cabinet because Robert Reich wasn't tall enough. The President isn't a proper president because he hides under blankets in the backseats of limousines taking him to his weekly trysts.

And so forth.

So when the nation re-elects Clinton, it's a loss for Rush, right?

That's what top-feeders might conclude. Top-feeders settle for easy answers. Top-feeders are the sort who might also conclude that winning the Series was a victory for the Yankees, that the Salk vaccine was a win for medical science, that whatever cataclysm wiped them out was a loss for dinosaurs.

But we bottom-feeders who dive deeper, who want to push the boundaries of human thought beyond the frontier, who are brave enough to mix our metaphors—we peel back another layer of the onion.

And here's what we find: Rush isn't the loser. Rush is the winner.

Rush has grown rich, famous, and vastly influential by attacking the Clinton White House. But lately, he seems to be tiring of his role of right-wing enfant terrible. He shows alarming signs of growing up, much to the distress of some callers who berate him for his new moderation which they interpret as ennui.

(Deep Divers use lots of italicized words like enfant terrible and ennui. N'est pas? )

Clinton's re-election is just what Rush needs to get revitalized, to get his sulfuric acid flowing again. And the re-election gives him four more years of turning his rage into more millions of dollars. If that's a loss, who needs a win?

Well, the top-feeders might say, sure, he's going to make money, but didn't Rush lose vast amounts of credibility and integrity and self respect? So isn't he still a loser, albeit a rich loser?

They say that because they don't know there's a more interior layer of the onion to uncover, a farther frontier to go beyond, a murkier depth to explore.

I admit I got this idea from another pundit who, like me, is always looking for the delicate shadings of political events. He's John Young of the Waco Tribune-Herald, and he wrote that Clinton should send a thank-you note to Rush because "he managed to make a pot-smoking, womanizing, draft-dodging, flip-flopping, big-spending, big-taxing, hog-calling, chicken-plucking, burger-gorging, lying, cheating, stinking … hillbilly hick liberal anti-Christ from Arkansas into a sympathetic figure."

The subtlety of that way of looking at things gets me to my most startling insight. Hang on to your hat.

Rush and Bill are both winners because they're on the same side.

Heavy, huh?

Here's why: Nobody could be as cranky as Rush Limbaugh appears to be and stay on the outside of a strait jacket. He just pretends to be that way because it's what Clinton pays him for.

Yes! Rush Limbaugh is Clinton's unacknowledged Minister of Vituperation.

His job is to make charges so outrageous that fair-minded voters come to Clinton's defense. And it works. That's why Bob Dole is now driving a John Deere around and around on that quarter-section just west of Russell.

And here, beneath all those layers, is the epicenter of the onion, the question that even I have no answer to yet: Who's paying the bill? I don't mean just the salary Rush gets for playing the heavy. I mean the salaries of all those Dittoheads who keep the phones ringing. You think it doesn't cost big bucks to get someone to say in public that the last time he was abducted by aliens he saw the President engage in a very kinky intergalactic sexual act?

That must cost the Ministry of Vituperation what we Deep Divers call mucho gelt.

My guess is that when we find out who's paying, it'll make Fornigate and Filegate and Indonesian Contributiongate look like third-rate burglaries.


Lincoln English Professor Satterfield writes to salvage meaning from his confusion. His column appears on alternate Mondays.

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