I’m going to listen to Rush Limbaugh for six weeks (so you don’t have to)

A few weeks ago, I got to know a Twitter user named @TopConservative. Although I didn’t catch his name, he blogs at AlabamaTeaParty.org, which bills itself as ”the most conservative blog in America!” Despite what you might think, he came off as a decent and open-minded guy, and we had a good time poking fun at our differences of opinion.

Most of these differences had to do with talk radio behemoth Rush Limbaugh. @TopConservative had followed me because I had mentioned Limbaugh in a tweet, and he asked me if I’d ever actually listened to his show. Although I’ve heard a lot of his content over the years – mostly second-hand through Media Matters, The Daily Show and other professional bullshit debunkers – I confessed that I’d never heard an entire episode.

Yes, @TopConservative replied, a whole episode would be a good start. But to really “catch on” to Limbaugh, he insisted, you’ve really got to give him six straight weeks.

Once I realized he wasn’t pulling my leg, I felt a little sick. Three hours of loudmouthed right-wing radio, five days a week for six weeks? Contrary to what a lot of Limbaugh’s listeners might think of the average liberal, I have a job and a family! Have I really got that much time to waste on such a bitter old man? Do I really want to risk becoming one of his “dittoheads?”

Well, the more I thought about it, the more I came around. If I did listen to Limbaugh’s show for a few weeks, I’d be in a much better, more informed position to criticize him. Plus, the next time one of my friends wondered aloud how anyone could possibly vote Republican, I might be able to give them a little insight.

If nothing else, listening to Limbaugh’s show and getting to know his listeners might end up being a fun experiment. I’m picturing equal parts Super Size Me and Gorillas in the Mist.

So I’ve decided to give it a try, and I’ve created an account on Twitter to chronicle the experience. I’ve picked the six-week period that starts on Monday, 1 October 2012 – which is my birthday, as it happens, so angry birthday to me. That block of time ends on the Friday after the US election, so I figure it’ll be a great opportunity to hear Rush at whatever passes for his best.

There are going to be some rules, of course:

  • I haven’t yet decided how I’m going to listen to the show; I may not be able to tune in live, while I’m at work, but I like the idea of listening to a podcast later, perhaps at double speed. In any case, I’ll comment on each episode on the day it airs.
  • I’m going to listen with an open mind, which means I’m going to disagree with a lot of people on a lot of points. Anyone arguing that disagreeing with Rush is proof that I’ve been brainwashed by the liberal media, however, will be laughed off the web.
  • I’m going to try and be respectful, and I’m asking everyone who follows or replies to do the same. Trolls of any political affiliation won’t be acknowledged, and in the unlikely event of someone trying to take a fight to my blog or personal Twitter account, I don’t mind hitting the “block” button.
  • I’m doing this for fun, so if it becomes a thankless chore or a daily screaming match, I’m going to stop. It’s my hope that this will lead to a great six-week discussion about the tone of political discourse, but if it doesn’t, I’m happy to cut my losses.

The challenge starts two weeks from today. Wish me luck, follow @SixWeeksofRush for updates, and feel free to spread the word. Thanks!

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14 Responses to “I’m going to listen to Rush Limbaugh for six weeks (so you don’t have to)”

  1. Andrew says:

    “Six Weeks of Rush” sounds like an excellent programming choice for the Horseshoe.

  2. Matt says:

    I did feel a twinge of guilt for not being clearer. It’s inevitable that at least a few disappointed Canucks are going to get the wrong idea…

  3. Jason says:

    Ah, jeezus. Honestly, guy, I’ve tried to listen to Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity before, and I get about four minutes into it before the dry-heaves set in.

    I mean, I wish you the best of luck, but… yeesh.

  4. Matt says:

    That’s pretty much why I gave myself an out. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t necessarily know what I’m getting into.

  5. NolaConnick says:

    Good on ya, mate! I think it’s going to be a bumpy ride for you, since you went straight to the top in choosing to follow “Maha Rushi”. That’s a commendable decision for a “lib” to do with an open-mind and voluntarily.

    As a Rush-listener since the tender age of 13 (a “young skull full of mush”) I’ve learned a lot from his show – including when he’s serious and when he’s joking. In fact, I could “interpret” some of my newer “friends” comments as skillfully as I do Rush’s!

    But, Matt, for a “Rush-rookie” of any political affiliation, he will shock you, even six weeks into listening (or 24 years into listening, and being on the same side politically)! Have you considered giving someone like Glenn Beck a try? Or, despite your “dislike” of Sean Hannity, give him a chance? They’re certainly gentler. Just my 2c worth.

    Be prepared; there is no politically correct nonsense where Rush is concerned. Don’t have a “grain of salt” prepared for his comments, have a whole shaker!

    And give it a go; you can do it. If, for nothing else, stress relief of harmless ranting at the radio (I backtalk the State-run Media all the time!) or on your blog / Twitter.

    Good luck and I’ll be watching! ;)

  6. Matt says:

    Thanks, NolaConnick! I’ve already heard more Beck and Hannity combined than I care to for one lifetime, and to be fair, the challenge was Limbaugh. Best to jump in with both feet, right? I may be putting myself in mortal danger, but the way I see it, that’s what Canada’s remarkably successful socialized health care system is for.

    It’s funny you should mention the importance of knowing the difference between “Serious Rush” and “Joking Rush,” because that’s one of the running threads about Limbaugh that I’m sure we’ll get into, and which I’ll probably list in a future post. In my experience, Rush’s fans tend to insist he’s dead serious, unless he’s just been caught saying something stupid or dishonest, in which case he was obviously joking. And man, can’t you liberals take a joke?

    I’m glad you’re following, and I do hope you’ll stick around. I look forward to hearing more from you on Twitter!

  7. Matt says:

    By the way, this is probably as good a time as any to note that my humble little Canadian blog is apparently still the leading Google search result for “Glenn Beck asshole idiot.”

    It certainly wasn’t my intention, and I honestly can’t believe that none of the many, many Beck bashers around the globe beat me out, but there you are.

  8. NolaConnick says:

    Hey, Matt!

    Yeah, about “Joking Rush” vs. “Serious Rush” ~ not sure about your experience with Rush’s fans… As I said, I’ve been listening since he started up in ’88. After 24 years, I can interpret him a heck of a lot better than many of some of my real-life friends! Perhaps it’s just a skill I learned at the knee(s) of my parents? Genetic maybe?

    Oh, how I wish G. Gordon Liddy was stil on the air. “Virile, vigorous and potent!” was his catch phrase… I remember actually getting to speak to him on his show once (he was 70, I was 21) and I was just all atwitter when I hung up – a natural high I’d never known. Never in my life did I think a convicted felon, senior citizen, right-wing politico could make ME blush, but he did… all without being the least bit pervy. What a happy memory!

    Anyway, about Beck & Hannity: they are respectful of all their callers and that irritates libs. If you’re getting hits on that phrase, then obviously you’ve used those words to describe Glenn. I can’t say I’ve not used “bashing” words to describe libs in the past, but never in a public and everlasting forum. I don’t think it’s civilized, no matter how many Google hits it might net me.

    But I do believe in freedom of speech and if you feel the need to bash these “harmless little fuzzballs”… that’s why Algore invented the internet and all. ;)

    Thanks again for the reply. I’ve got lib friends (on the net anyway) and I enjoy a frisky debate sometimes. But perhaps we’ll find some common ground and could share something other than an argument sometime. You seem like a nice enough fella. Time will tell I guess, eh?

  9. Matt says:

    Well, I do hope I didn’t come off as rude. When it comes to the Glenn Beck post, which I do hope you searched out for the benefit of the doubt, I feel I should play the same card as so many of our national news pundits and point out that all I did was ask the question.

    I did so, by the way, in reference to the time Glenn Beck allowed a conservative hack named Michael Scheuer to say that “the only chance we have as a country right now is for Osama bin Laden to deploy and detonate a major weapon in the United States.” Not only did Beck not question, let alone ridicule, that horrible point of view, but he agreed with him on the air.

    I do hope the fact that I wrote Beck off at that point doesn’t mean that we can’t find common ground. Maybe we can call it even based on the fact that you just disparaged “libs” on my blog, a “public and [debatably] everlasting forum,” by suggesting that the reason why we’re all irritated by Beck and Hannity is because they’re so respectful?

    Call it even? What do you say?

  10. NolaConnick says:

    Matt, my darling:

    a) I didn’t say that “all” libs are irritated by Beck & Hannity.

    b) The terms “a-hole” and “idiot” are nouns. Whether you directly said that GB was one or the other or let your readers “decide”, you were still applying a “name-calling” tactic. This is a form of personal attack.

    I was simply stating that in a “public and [debatably] everlasting forum,” I would have chosen to use *adjectives*, describing a person’s actions, not the person = not an attack. Instead of “A-hole or Idiot?”, you could have used, “Nasty or Ignorant?” or whatever worse adjectives you can think of.

    Just my opinion. I have not had the chance to read your referenced blog yet, but in fairness, I will do so.

    Something you will more than likely agree with me on (and such an uncommon viewpoint for a Conservative Mormon like myself to hold) would be that I am pro-gay equal rights. Just a jumping off point. I’m pretty sure we’ll have trouble with everything else.

  11. Matt says:

    I did notice that, NolaConnick, and I was impressed. Your non-stereotypical, very human blend of positions is one of the reasons I followed you in the first place.

    We will certainly have disagreements, but I hope that doesn’t mean we’ll have trouble! Indeed, as snarky as this project’s bound to get, I hope it’ll also encourage people like you and me to reach across the lines we’re so often encouraged not to cross. In our case, as you can see, it already has. I’ll try to take a page from your book and focus on adjectives.

    And no, you didn’t say “all liberals.” Nor did you say “some liberals,” and perhaps that’s where the confusion crept in. Let’s agree to watch out for that sort of thing!

    Also, just for the record, I’ve never heard a single liberal say “Oh, I hate that Sean Hannity! He’s just so respectful!”

  12. NolaConnick says:

    Matt, you make me laugh (in a good way…at least for now )!

    I completely agree that we both should keep an eye on our wording so as not to generalize.

    And, if we are nit-picking, I never said (any, some, a few, or all) libs “HATE” Sean Hannity (or Glenn Beck).

    I said that the respect for [some] lib callers [tends to] irritate said callers.

    To clarify this, in my personal experience, when debating against someone with a liberal stance, my opponent’s argument has always tended to get emotional; when that happens, I’ve done my best to (gently) persuade the conversation back to factual points.

    I learned a lot of the finer points of arguing during a Lincoln/Douglas Style Debate and some undergrad Law courses.

    To make a long “story” short, my thought is that a lot of people are “put off” by politeness nowadays and perhaps are not used to being treated with respect by persons with dissenting viewpoints.

    These people (both conservs and libs) take this “respectfulness” as “phony condescension” and therefore become irritated.

    I hope I’ve explained myself more thoroughly. I’ll try not to generalize anymore.

    Thanks again for the reply. It’s great “getting to know” another friend, conserv or lib…

    “No one is so rich as to have too many friends!”
    ~~John Leguzamo, “Too Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar”