Thursday, October 16, 2003

Mush from a wimp. Boston Globe columnist Ellen Goodman today derides herself and other liberals for showing too much sympathy for Rush Limbaugh, who admitted last week that he's addicted to prescription pain-killers. "This is the curse of liberal wimpathy," she writes.

Among the fellow wimps she identifies is Joe Conason, the author of Big Lies, who writes a column for the New York Observer and a weblog for Salon. Her evidence is this Conason sentence: "It's hard not to feel sorry for anyone whose suffering causes them to hustle narcotics."

I was surprised, because I'd recalled Conason's being pretty tough on Limbaugh. I looked it up, and I was right.

Not only did Conason quote from an e-mail suggesting Limbaugh's pill-popping might have caused his deafness, but Goodman took Conason's sentence out of context. Here's the context from Conason's October 3 blog entry (subscription required) -- written before Limbaugh had even come clean:

From what I've read, it seems that Limbaugh may have been overmedicating himself for pain. That's no excuse, as he would surely have said of any liberal caught doing likewise, but it's hard not to feel sorry for anyone whose suffering causes them to hustle narcotics. Perhaps he and his hard-hearted dittoheads might begin to understand addiction differently now.

Now that Rush has gone public, Conason is even more unstinting. Here's a choice bit from his column in this week's Observer:

So whatever punishment Mr. Limbaugh must endure will be handed down in the court of public opinion. He enjoys the support of millions of character witnesses, including prominent fellow hypocrites such as his close friends William Bennett and Newt Gingrich. But they would all be hard-pressed to describe the mighty radio mouth as someone who has earned great sympathy. This is, after all, a man who earned millions by lampooning the plight of AIDS victims, spreading rumors that implicated Hillary Clinton in murder and Bill Clinton in cocaine abuse, and mocking the physical appearance of their young child. His brilliant career was founded on daily "entertainment" of this quality.

This casts Conason's "liberal wimpathy" in a rather different light, doesn't it?

New in this week's Phoenix. I talk with Peter Dinklage, the star of The Station Agent. Dinklage's portrayal of the lonely railroad enthusiast Finbar McBride may be the most important role a dwarf actor has ever had.

Also, the last days of Al Giordano's Narco News Bulletin.

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