Thursday, February 28, 2008

Buckley, Limbaugh and Civility

Type into Google “Limbaugh,” “Civility” and “Buckley.” Several references pop up, the foremost being Rush Limbaugh’s own web page, where today’s entry/program transcript is titled, “On Mr. Buckley and ‘Civility.'”

It’s worth a read because Limbaugh argues that he and Buckley are conservative soul mates. He even quotes a fawning interview he did with Buckley in 2004 in which Buckley seemingly joins hands with Limbaugh and declares them both victims of “liberal hate mongering.”

And somehow that makes hate mongering acceptable?

The eulogies for Bill Buckley have focused on his passion for ideas, not on his passion for name-calling and derision, although, as Limbaugh notes, Buckley occasionally resorted to the cheap shot. (In a 40-year-old TV clip, Buckley responds to being called a “crypto-Nazi” by Gore Vidal by calling Vidal, who was openly homosexual, a “queer.”)

Those of us who watched Buckley’s “Firing Line” saw guests from across the political spectrum. From Margaret Thatcher to Noam Chomsky. (Addendum: for more on the program and its 33 year run, go here). Limbaugh never tolerates such diversity. Instead he prides himself on, as he calls them, his “Ditto Heads.” So much for the marketplace of ideas. Anyone wanting to offer an un-Limbaugh-like idea is Rush's market, is barred entry and derided as the enemy.

Someday, it will be left to the “Ditto Heads” to eulogize Limbaugh, the man who seems to love to hate and takes only his own counsel.

In contrast, the eulogies for Buckley are coming, not surprisingly, from all quarters — from those who agreed with him, those who disagreed with him and those who did some of both depending on the topic and the times. They all admired William Buckley because he cleaved to ideas, not hatred.

A final note: High among the notable aspects of the 2008 presidential campaign is Rush Limbaugh's dismissal of all the candidates. They are far too decent, yes, civil, for Rush. Perhaps even the Ditto Heads are seeing the truth. A world beset by hatred can ill-afford more of it.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any comparison between WFB and RL would indeed be a glaring one. In terms of intelligence, insight, compassion, sense of fairness and decency, Limbaugh would be vastly eclipsed by the character, verbal command and kindness of William F. Buckley, Jr.

2:42 AM  

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