Vital Signs

The Real Rush Limbaugh

After I authored a Washington Post article critical of Rush Limbaugh from a conservative perspective, William Kristol of the Project on the Republican Future took me to task, telling a reporter that I had judged the popular talk show host by "extreme standards." Limbaugh, he said, is "plenty conservative for me."

Among other things, my article noted that Limbaugh, a staunch Reaganite, didn't vote for Reagan (he didn't register to vote until 1986, when he was 35); Limbaugh, a spokesman for family values, has been divorced twice; Limbaugh, who told a Christian magazine "Jesus is the answer," doesn't go to church and won't discuss biblical issues on his programs; Limbaugh, an advocate of a strong military and American interventionism, avoided the Vietnam War draft; Limbaugh has back-pedaled on social issues such as abortion and homosexual rights, though he emphasized them early in his career; Limbaugh refuses to correct his most serious errors, even though he describes himself as the "Epitome of Morality and Virtue"; and Limbaugh, an ardent Republican and multimillionaire, contributed a paltry $1000 to the Republican Party and its candidates during the 1992-94 election cycles.

Limbaugh says about President Clinton, "Character counts." Should Limbaugh's character count as well? Or should we simply set aside these obvious questions and contradictions,...

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