Let me tell you how I met Joy Behar. It was way before she became one of the original hosts of “The View.” Actually, it was a long-distance introduction, very long distance.
Back in February 1991, my video crew and I were hitching a ride with a U.S. Army convoy out of Iraq after covering the very very short “war” for CNN.
Our military guy had an audio tape that his family had sent of this extremely right wing guy, Rush Limbaugh. At the time, he was starting out at WABC radio, the network-owned local flagship radio broadcaster in New York. He was debating the station’s liberal presence, a female whose name I didn’t hear. They were hilarious – although he was obnoxious, as always.
Fast-forward to June of that year. My wife Linda and I were taking a break on the beach in St. Lucia and met this couple. As vacationers do, we struck up a conversation, and when she told me she worked for WABC, I related the story, but I admitted I hadn’t remembered the woman.
“It was me!” she exclaimed. It turned out Joy Behar was a standup comic whose day job was being the token left winger on NYC talk radio. We all hung out for the entire time and carried our friendship forward for several years. She became a big celebrity noted for her quick wit, and I became noted for being a half-wit.
So that was my introduction to Rush Limbaugh, who also went on to stardom as the king of reactionary radio and became a model for a full generation of rabid ultra-conservative commentators. In the process, he begat Newt Gingrich, Fox News and, of course, President Donald Trump, who, not coincidentally, presented Limbaugh with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Which is my long-winded way of dealing with Limbaugh’s death after his long career of leading the United States of America on its continued return to the white male extreme right. Obviously, I was not a fan.
Now comes the news that Rush Limbaugh has died at age 70. It was well known for the past year, after he announced it on his network radio show, that he had advanced lung cancer. So it was not much of a surprise. Nor, to be honest, was it an unpleasant surprise.
I know tradition requires grieving at anybody’s passing, no matter how ugly their lives, but to put it bluntly, a lot of us are not. Personally, it’s gratifying to see on social media how many people don’t have that hang-up, who are willing to say good riddance to the guy, to publicly send him on his way with open contempt. It overlaps with the religious instruction to forgive those who have done you wrong, which I also believe is poppycock.
Limbaugh made a pot of money by preaching to morons. They proudly called themselves “ditto heads” without comprehending that was a derogatory term. It was a forerunner to individuals identifying themselves as part of the Donald Trump “base,” meaning they had a rapport with violent bigots, misogynists and all of those who were willing to discard all that made America allegedly exceptional, like the Constitution.
It is part of a steady U.S. deterioration that is already moving beyond Trump to those who embrace psychotic conspiracies and radio hosts who were competing with Limbaugh and pushing him further to cuckoobird nuttiness.
Still, he led the way for hellfire and brimstone broadcasters. He has now moved on to the real netherworld of hellfire and brimstone. In this life Rush had become somewhat obsolete, just as we can anticipate that Donald Trump will. The problem is the law of political gravity, which, as we all know, pulls everything down. It’s also known as Newt’s law of gravity.
Who knew that Joy would introduce me to such a miserable character? He’s now Satan’s problem.