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April 30, 2006

Limbaugh and the Conservative Strawman

Rightwingsparkle shakes her head at the Rush-bashing coming from the leftside of the blogsphere in regards to his recent plea agreement on his prescription drug addiction. She states

For some reason, because Rush is conservative, he is held to a completely different standard by the msm and the left. It's like they expect conservatives to be perfect if they are going espouse a more moral society.
I haven't listened to Rush in years (I'm usually at work or I listen to Dennis Prager, who is on at the same time in Los Angeles area, and has a much better show) so I really have no clue how much actual "drug-user bashing" Rush has done.

But any non-leftist IS held to a much higher standard -- which I would describe as the Conservative Strawman Standard. Left cultists make up what they believe is "conservative values" and then hold individuals to it whether or not that particular individual actually espouses that value. Left cultists also make it a zero-sum game. Anything less than "moral perfection" by non-leftists forever makes them "hypocrites" and forever banned from weighing in on that particular subject.

It is really a variation on the pernicious "Chickenhawk" meme.

It has nothing to do with debate or argument in the arena of ideas, values or policies. It is merely a dishonest, rhetorical cudgel attempting to shut up and shut down those people one disagrees with, but cannot effectively debate.

It's the playground equivalent of the snotty kid who demands to be pitcher and if he doesn't get his way he's taking the bat and ball home.

Dennis Prager on hypocrisy

Can you think of one prominent liberal ever labeled a hypocrite in the mainstream press? President Bill Clinton was labeled many things for his extramarital affairs and his lying, but never a hypocrite. But when the press discovers flawed behavior in the personal life of a prominent conservative, he is discredited as a hypocrite.

Why is this? Because you can only be a hypocrite if you violate standards that you promote or judge, and liberals rarely promote or judge personal behavior. Their moral preoccupations almost exclusively concern social positions. Liberals judge people by their positions on global warming, not by how they behave.

There are a lot of worse things to be accused of than being a hypocrite -- to avoid such a charge, one has to profess having no personal standards at all.


Posted by Darleen at April 30, 2006 09:37 AM


In Rush's case, I think, the left throws itself into a furor in part because Rush himself has (IIRC) taken a strong anti-drug stance on his show.

So, when a person with strong anti-drug credentials is found using drugs, yes, there is a bit of hypocrisy about him.

As for me? I don't really care about Rush's drug use one way or the other. No skin off my nose. But after reading about his Oxycontin habit and Stephen King's drug habit, I am morbidly curious about what it's like to be a drug dealer to the stars.


Posted by: pennywit at April 30, 2006 02:11 PM

Now, now. You know you are being unfair. We have personal standards. Pennywit is right Rush is one of those grotesques who labels people and rages against them for various things which is why there is so much glee over his transgression. Do you have any idea how many painkillers (vicodin) to cause deafness. Which is the reason he lost his hearing in case you didn't know. It just tickles the tummy to watch such a self-righteous fuck tumble on down.

Posted by: Mieke at April 30, 2006 05:18 PM


So, where's the glee and charges of "hypocrisy" where it concerns Ted Kennedy?

As I said above, I have no clue what Limbaugh has said about drugs...do you have any quotes?

Or, again, is it because he's right of center one ASSUMES his position on drugs?

Please name me the last time a well known leftist was accused of personal hypocrisy.

Posted by: Darleen at April 30, 2006 06:02 PM

Gee, maybe it is because hypocrisy isn't so prevalent on the left. Not to say it isn't there.

I think the more profane aspect of Rush Limbaugh's
crimes is that he is such a documented liar.

What really really angered me was that those of us on the left that see the war as illegal and are consistently horrified at the many deaths of Iraqis and soldiers, we become very outspoken regarding the deaths, for it never to be taken lightly and in hopes of it having enough of an impact to effect many to join us in ending the bloodshed and horror. So, Rush Limbaugh goes over to "entertain" the troops and tells them that we on the left are hoping more of them will die. Rush Limbaugh is a vile human being.

Posted by: blubonnet at April 30, 2006 07:24 PM

Actually most liberals do judge people on how they behave.

Condemnation of Bill Clinton was pretty evenly spread among the various lights in our media on both sides of the aisle.

So Prager is just plain wrong.

[Of course most ordinary Americans really didn't care that much about Bill Clinton's sex or his lying about his mistress.]

But I digress.

Bill Clinton was flawed, but not a hypocrite.

A hypocrite makes a habit of doing one thing while preaching another.

A habit. Which Clinton did not do.

Sure, Clinton lied about what kind of sex when he was in office. But that was a one time affair. So to speak.

But he's been clean ever since.

Of course, Prager isn't interested in virtue or hypocrisy; he's interested in partisan advantage.

Just like that old hypocrite and self-elected moral guru Bill Bennett.

Bill Bennett. Now there's a hypocrite if ever one lived.

A prig of the first order. Going around telling everyone who'd listen, what a monster Bill Clinton was because he lied about sex. And by implication condemning everyone who didn't join in in Bennet's condemnation of Clinton.

Meantime keeping his gambling habit more or less secret for years.

Real family values Bennett, hanging around in NJ casinos throwing away thousands every night.

Posted by: Carl W. Goss at April 30, 2006 09:02 PM


Either you are unfamiliar with Prager or you are just plain lying.

I will give you the benefit of the doubt, because on the whole I enjoy your posts even as we disagree.

Dennis, as theologian, lecturer, author and teacher is MOST concerned with values and morality. I've listened to him since his "religion on the line" days.

And why is Bennett a hypocrite for exorcating Clinton about SEX while he GAMBLES???

That is a total non-sequitor.

Am I a hyprocrite for saying Clinton is personal scum on the way he treats women, even as I enjoy a trip to Vegas or Laughlin and a bit of time at the blackjack tables????

Again... STRAW CONSERVATIVE argument.

Posted by: Darleen at April 30, 2006 09:31 PM


Reading the signs at "anti-war" protests, the Left does want American soldiers to die.

You don't? Then don't support the "anti-war" Left.

You choice. Own it.

BTW, the war is not "illegal". Learn that words mean things.

Posted by: Darleen at April 30, 2006 09:34 PM

I think Carl was speaking more generally about Bennett. Bennett is a man, a leader in the Right, who held himself up as better and more moral than not only Dems but, as a leader, most others (by virtue (no pun intended) of his speeches condeming others). It's a hypocritical to condem others transgressions and to talk about family values when you are transgressing yourself. Now, personally I don't have a moral problem with wagering, but many in the religious right view it as a sin and immoral.

Posted by: Mieke at April 30, 2006 10:42 PM

The only way the war is not "illegal" is if it's not a "war"...Because a "war" can only be declared by Congress, not by a unitary Executive...Therefore, he is not a "war president" entitled to all the executive lawbreaking priviileges he has accrued to himself, not entitled to unilaterally declare himself free to break over 750 laws passed by Congress (signing statements, ooh lala), not entitled to secretly wiretap American citizens, not entitled to suspend habeas corpus or ignore intelligence that doesn't support his position, not entitled to leak to the press but prosecute others who leak without his permission, etc....So which is it? Are we at war, which is impossible without Congressional declaration, or is he a common fucking criminal?

Hypocrisy is the modus operandi of the rightwing. We've got a lovely new sex scandal where at least six Republican Congressmen were bribed with prositutes, ferrried about by a limo company run by a felon, which ALSO got lots of freeby contracts from Homeland Security. I think we all need a lecture from Darleen about moral superiority and the cultural cleanliness of the law abiding Right Wing.

Rush Limbaugh is a disgusting draft dodging jowly pig. His patriotism is all in his pocketbook. He's a self indulgent drug addict, a common criminal who got a sweet deal because he belongs to the power elite in this country. He reminds us all who the real ELITE is in this country today - fat revolting hypocrites making a killing off of the destruction of our Constitution and our way of life.

Deal with it Darleen. You live among the swine. Keep up the lectures. That's the only way you can keep your Hypocrisy record as pure as it's always been.

Posted by: The Voice in Your Head at May 1, 2006 03:38 AM

As a matter of fact, I'd LOVE to have a replay of Darleen's Cultural Morality lecture...the one where she explains how laws reflect the cultural consensus of the majority. Since she is up the butt of the President who refuses to use the Constitutional VETO but prefers to run an end around our LAWS with his signing statements and "implied powers", it would be wonderful to watch her tie herself up in those knots of Glorious Hypocrisy one more time.

The rule of law has been muddied by an admin that doesn't respect the Constitution and by the gross, public amorality of their most pompous and bloviating public cheerleaders. Let's have a little tune up on how the wingnuts represent all that is good, noble, brave and righteous in these here United States. I think you're getting a little rusty.

Posted by: The Voice in Your Head at May 1, 2006 05:07 AM

As usual, our own little spitting troll cannot even argue fact.

War powers are SHARED by the executive and legislative branches and NO formal declaration of war has to be in place for American troops to be committed anywhere in the world. This was reaffirmed most recently in Doe v Bush in October 2002 which specifically challenged Congress' Authorization of Military Force Resolution.

As usual, Hrubec above (A Friend, Snick, Voice) proves she has nothing but Teh Hate as she doesn't seem to have a clue about the Constitution nor the designation of powers therein.

Someone hand her a towel to wipe the drool from her chin.

Posted by: Darleen at May 1, 2006 06:43 AM

and where on earth were all these people when Clinton ran his little wars? Kosovo, Bosnia, et. al?

Posted by: Beth Donovan at May 1, 2006 07:13 AM

How does "commitment of troops" differ from "war"? And the troll raises an excellent point that the President has tried to claim extraordinary power based on our being "at war". Does any of this bother his followers? I do not get the sense that any of them have actual knowledge or respect for the Constitution either, blogmistress included. It's never anything but partisan hypocrisy. Whatever's convenient in a given situation that allows one to say on his or her chosen side of the fence.

I'd like to hear a coherent conservative explanation why all the sexual harrassment/drug abuse/gambling addiction/male prostitution/et.al. on the right is so easily apologized for, as mere flaws in human nature. Weren't these the same jackals that tried to unseat a president for extramarital sex, then covered it up by pretending it was his "lies" they cared about. LOL, we all know now that was never true either, don't we?

Posted by: Fabiano at May 1, 2006 07:51 AM

I'm just glad I don't attract these guys. I *like* living in my bubble.


Posted by: John of Argghhh! at May 1, 2006 08:42 AM


Did you not see my citation of Doe v Bush?

also vis a vis "The Supreme Court and Congress have recognized that a state of war may exist without a formal declaration"

See The Prize Cases, 67 U.S. (1863); Bas v. Tingy, 4 U.S. 37 (1800). In Talbot v. Seeman, 5 U.S. 1 (1801), Chief Justice Marshall, for the Court, wrote, “It is not denied, nor in the course of the argument has it been denied, that congress may authorize general hostilities, in which case the general laws of war apply to our situation; or partial hostilities, in which case the laws of war, so far as they apply to our situation, must be noticed.” Id., at 28. Of course, this leaves open the question, how “far” do they apply? Marshall provided no clear answer, but the opinion did recognize that their application need not be explicit in Congress’ authorizing act. See also Congress’ declaration in the Mexican War, where Congress did not “declare war.” Rather, it recognized that “by the act of the Republic of Mexico, a state of war exists between that government and the United States.” Winthrop, supra note 2, at 668.*
And please DO source your attribution that "why all the sexual harrassment/drug abuse/gambling addiction/male prostitution/et.al. on the right is so easily apologized for". Otherwise, borrow the troll drool towel and USE IT.

Posted by: Darleen at May 1, 2006 12:25 PM

How can anyone say they are supporting our troops when we want to expose them to the horrors of war, when the WMDs line was a ruse.

You claim to support the troops by supporting the war, but 3/4 of the soldiers over there think we ought not be there. Supporting this president is betraying not only this country, our own, but the troops as well.

Then the Lancet's report of over 100,000 Iraqis dying! That was in November 2004. That was before the nightmare of Fallujah where we used white phosphourous (virtually napalm),violating international law, and we are causing birth defects from the depleted uranium we use over there, and cancer.

Most people don't realize that the vast majority of deaths are not from the insurgency, but from us. The MSM only shows the insurgency's results of violence.

You betray not only our troops by supporting this war, but humanity. Inter-national law standards regards our attack as an act of aggression. Along with that violation of I.N.law, torture, land mines, and cluster bombs, and white phosphourous, and depleted uranium, and a lot more. Add the fact that it was all on blatent intentional lies, how can you keep from speaking out AGAINST it? There is no honor in it. Bush has dishonored them. Those poor soldiers have got to live the rest of their lives knowing they took part in an act of horror, which is what war is, all for lies. Suicide is not uncommon among them.
IMPEACH the piece of garbage. He(Bu$hco)is pond scum. He has no soul!

Posted by: blubonnet at May 1, 2006 11:39 PM

Voice...thank you for your comments. You are a bright light.

Posted by: blubonnet at May 1, 2006 11:43 PM

Where are all the cries of "chickenhawk" and "draft dodger" aimed at hillary rodham rodham by the Saddam-niks, anyway?

Oh well, consistency of principle never was a leftist virtue. (Being more moral than most Democrats ain't a challenge.)

Posted by: michael i at May 2, 2006 02:04 AM

Darleen, you are a testament to arrested development. Last time I saw people insulting one another with crude cartoons was middle school.

At LEAST you aren't subjecting anyone to those soporific lectures you used to vomit out about - let me see if I can get this straight, because it was always so hilariously illogical - Laws are based on the MORAL principles of the DOMINANT CULTURE (of which Darleen is a shining example, in all her butchy churlishness) and the minority has no right to representation because their MORALS aren't encoded into the LAWS, making them irrelevant.

She used to run this into the hole on every discussion board I ran into her on. Now that she's a card carrying sychophant for the new American Monarchism, she doesn't spew it so much. Since we have a dominant culture that ignores the laws (based on their own morality, go figure), despises the rule of law, puts itself above the rule of law and manipulates the law to their own personal profit.

You're part of what is destroying America, Darleen. Not a big part, because you're nothing but a hatefilled matronly divorcee, but you represent the psychological disease that has enabled the destruction of our Constitution and of our reputation as a nation of honor.

Now cackle a little bit more and put up your retarded cartoon. What an embarrassment you are. But thanks for finally putting down that fricking lecture. Guess that was even too hypocritical for your sorry ass.

Posted by: The FRIENDLY Voice in Your Head at May 2, 2006 02:41 AM

I love it! The UN-friendly voice in your head scolds Darleen for "vomiting" soporific lectures, by vomiting up their own soporific lecture, dripping with oozing self-righteousness.

(I think voice just doesn't like the cartoon!)

Posted by: TalkinKamel at May 2, 2006 08:43 AM

Beth, yes, that's a very question---where were all these guys when we were bombing Kosovo?

Posted by: TalkinKamel at May 2, 2006 08:45 AM

To answer your Kosovo question: when Clinton bombed Kosovo all the Republicans who later supported the war in Iraq were spitting fire about his unauthorized use of military force, and they even pulled out some retired generals on Fox News and CNN to criticize the President. Funny how now that the President is one of their own, retired generals are persona non grata.

Posted by: Brad at May 2, 2006 10:47 AM

And why is Bennett a hypocrite for exorcating Clinton about SEX while he GAMBLES???

don't you get it? Bill Bennett has written books about moral virtue and he (along with much of the Right) claims to be more virtuous, more morally sound, than the Left. therefore when his gambling addiction became known he became a bona fide hypocrite.

Posted by: Brad at May 2, 2006 10:50 AM


I think Brad has hit on something on the Bennett issue, but I can't resist adding my own two cents.

When somebody writes something called The Book of Virtues, I automatically consider him a liar, a fool, a hypocrite, a huckster, or an intolerant ass, especially if he lacks credentials or authority. But then again, I have a low opinion of famous people in general, especially those whom I suspect of mortgaging some part of themselves for political office or fame.

Since I have little patience for fools, hypocrites, hucksters, or intolerant asses, I don't read Bennett's book. However, I take note of the picture of himself he paints for the outside world. As soon as he started preaching "values" and "virtues" without some sort of public expiation for his own sins, he tried to take for himself the Mantle of Righteousness.

The problem with the Mantle of Righteousness is that wearing it is like wearing a pair of size 28 briefs when you really have a size 40 waist. It cuts off your circulation and doesn't give you much freedom to hang loose, if you know what I mean. And, damn, that tight underwear is uncomfortable.

When you're wearing that Underwear of Virtue and you go in for a rather unvirtuous activity like gambling, the elastic breaks, and everybody can see your Beer Gut of Hypocrisy ... not to mention other things we won't mention on a family blog.

Now that I've given you that pleasant image, let's get back to my main point.

Thing is, after writing books about Virtue (with a capital V!), he set himself up for the inevitable, dare I say Oedipal, fall when his own failings were revealed. As soon as the gambling came out, all of his prior pronouncements about right and wrong, duty, etc., etc. seemed rather ridiculous ... and thus eroded his authority as an arbiter of right and wrong.


Posted by: pennywit at May 2, 2006 12:11 PM


You're falling into the same Conservative Strawman argument. If Bennett (or any one else right of center) is concerned with personal morality, those that find personal morality irrelevant hold them to a zero-tolerance standard.

Which is at best, a disengenuous "argument".

Please find me an attribution from Bill Bennett that he is perfect or that he advocates moral perfection.

Gambling is not immoral. It's not even illegal in most places. So what if Bennett gambled a lot or gambled a lot of money. If he harmed no one, he was not acting immorally.

Why wasn't Bill Clinton considered a hypocrite when he's cuckolding Hillary while publically being a supporter of "women's rights"? (that aside from him breaching his oath as a lawyer and lying in a deposition).

Again, this is where the double standard/strawman argument rears its head. Bennett does something that people who don't even FIND gambling immoral do a cynical and dishonest "gotcha" while defending Clinton's "private sex life" even when it proves he's no friend of women's rights.

Does a divorce forever preclude a non-leftist person for promoting the benefits of marriage?

Posted by: Darleen at May 2, 2006 01:16 PM

Gambling is not immoral. It's not even illegal in most places. So what if Bennett gambled a lot or gambled a lot of money. If he harmed no one, he was not acting immorally.

"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'" -- Hebrews 13:5

"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."--Matthew 6:24

"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." --1 Timothy 6:10

Posted by: Brad at May 2, 2006 07:45 PM

Non-sequitor, Brad.

Gambling is morally neutral, even legal in many places.

If Bennett was legally gambling and hurt no other person, how was his behavior both immoral and hypocritical?

Posted by: Darleen at May 2, 2006 08:43 PM

"Whoever undertakes to set himself up as judge in the field of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods." Albert Einstein

Posted by: Albert Einstein at May 2, 2006 11:05 PM

"He who is merciful to the cruel will end up by being cruel to the merciful" Midrash

Posted by: Darleen at May 2, 2006 11:43 PM

Gambling is not immoral. It's not even illegal in most places. So what if Bennett gambled a lot or gambled a lot of money. If he harmed no one, he was not acting immorally.

Interesting. Are you a consequentialist?


Posted by: pennywit at May 3, 2006 06:32 AM


Interestingly, I don't believe so.

As I've said before, any basic incident of behavior is morally neutral, our judgment of whether it is good or bad is based both on context and values.

IE... the death of one person at the hands of another person can range from a moral evil to a moral good. Murder is moral evil. Killing in self-defense can be a moral good.

Gambling is really a form of entertainment, like movies, fine dining, stage shows, etc. The morality of any incident of gambling is contingent upon the context in which it takes place...just as having a nice dinner out is not morally suspect, but dine-n-dash is. Having a glass of wine with dinner is not morally suspect ... drinking until sloppy drunk and annoying others is morally suspect.

Context, PW, context

Posted by: Darleen at May 3, 2006 06:57 AM

I'm just curious, Darleen. And, IMO, yuu do seem to have a strong consequentialist streak; I have one as well, although I tend toward rule utilitarianism.

Believe it or not, I'm working out a response to your earlier comment; it's just taking a little time to formulate correctly.


Posted by: pennywit at May 3, 2006 07:29 AM

Scratch that, I'm not quite a rule utilitarian. I probably alternate between that and a rather heavily obligation-focused deontology.


Posted by: pennywit at May 3, 2006 07:30 AM

If Bennett was legally gambling and hurt no other person, how was his behavior both immoral and hypocritical?

How can you suggest that Bennett's behavior hurt no one else? You obviously know nothing about addictions and compulsive behaviors, let alone gambling.

His behavior was immoral and hypocritical because Bill Bennett has positioned himself as a virtuous, Bible-following person, and the Bible warns against such behavior. "The love of money," etc.

I wish you would simply acknowledge this point but you would rather use the recent news about another conservative hypocrite (Rush) as an excuse to bash the Left again. Rush broke the law, period. Just like Bill Clinton. Why do you defend Rush? If Rush were a Leftist talk show host, would you defend him?

Posted by: Brad at May 3, 2006 11:36 AM


Well, I can see you squirming and trying not to show it. You're back to creating a Conservative Strawman and making assertions about Bill Bennett without any direct attribution.

And you refuse to answer my question. If what Bennett was doing was LEGAL and he hurt No One (did his children go hungry?) what IMMORALITY was committed?

Come on, Brad. Is this where you also construct the Bible Believer Strawman by claiming a "Bible warning" about "love of money" means gambling is a mortal sin?

Wow, I bet the Wednesday night Bingo players at the local Catholic parish might be surprised at that one.

Work a little on those reading comp skills, too, Brad. I didn't "defend" Rush in this post at all.

Posted by: Darleen at May 3, 2006 10:39 PM


How would you classify gambling to excess, particularly in light of your "context" post above?


Posted by: pennywit at May 4, 2006 06:57 AM


The context of "excess" exists where it concerns the individual and the harm the behavior causes others (I'm with Robert Heinlein...I don't believe "self harm" is a sin, just stupid)

I occassionally go to Vegas and I like playing Black Jack. I enjoy sitting in a casino, people watching, chatting with my neighbors at the table, I go with..oh... $100 to lose. That's my budget for gambling... several hours of entertainment. I could easily have spent that $100 on a gourmet meal, or a stageplay, or clothing. There is no material difference between all those activities except where any ONE of them can become an obsession and be done to an excess that harms others.

If I spend 10% of my income annually on entertainment, and Bill Bennett spends 10% -- neither one of us is being excessive even though the gross amounts between us are going to be significantly different.

I will even wager to say (heh) that much of the animous directed against Bennett's "gambling" comes from a core jealously. How dare he be rich AND spend it on himself!

Notice how the Cheney's donated over six million dollars to charity last year but it gets hardly a second glance in news...but if big old selfish, meany, Rethuglican, Bible-thumping hypocrite Cheney has spent $150,000 on a boat, there'd be deafening howls from the usual howler monkeys with their Conservative Strawmen.

Posted by: Darleen at May 4, 2006 12:54 PM

BTW...PW... if I may back up a bit

When somebody writes something called The Book of Virtues, I automatically consider him a liar, a fool, a hypocrite, a huckster, or an intolerant ass
Do you realize that BofV is a Children's Anthology? Bennett gathered all sorts of stories (classic, legends, plus speeches), putting them under headings like "self-discipline, compassion, work, responsibility, friendship, courage, perseverance, honesty, loyalty, faith" The first writing is poem by Robert Louis Stevenson "Good and Bad Children"

Are ALL the writers of stories, poems, etc that attempt to illustrate virtue nothing more than lying fools?

Are parents, then, too such fools, if your logic is to be followed about the attempt to define and pass on a sense of "virtue?"

Posted by: Darleen at May 4, 2006 01:07 PM

Wow, this thread sure took an odd diversion. I was looking for a venue to complement Darleen on some recent Wizbang posts.

BTW, Vicodin doesn't cause deafness. The Tylenol in it can rot your liver however. Oycontin is just long acting oxycodone, and that isn't ototoxic either.

hypocrisy = pretending to have standards you don't follow

Unfortunately Rush, as well as a number of Left, Right, Centrist and Way-Out political figures also share this trait. Playing straight when you are Gay is hypocrisy. Sometimes it is simply a survival mechanism. Perhaps not one to be proud of, but fairly pretentious to castigate folks for it unless you are absolutely sure your house is not made of glass.

Posted by: epador at May 6, 2006 07:02 PM


Thanks for the compliment. :-)

If Rush were castigating addicts while being addicted, of COURSE, that's hypocrisy. Rank hypocrisy.

But can a recovering addict advocate sobriety and not be considered a hypocrite?

Posted by: Darleen at May 6, 2006 07:18 PM