Trying to get a read on Rush effect

September 01, 1998|By Susan Reimer

RUSH LIMBAUGH read one of my columns over the air on Friday. But he didn't rip me or ridicule me or call me a dope-smoking commie lib wacko, and I am still trying to work through my feelings about this.

In the column he liked so much, I wrote that, like the children around me who see the world as black or white and do not compromise, I have decided to end my pining for what might have been with this president from my generation and move on.

Limbaugh read it almost in its entirety as evidence that women are finally waking up to the unsavory character of this president. But aside from wondering out loud what took me so long, he did not hold me up to his usual vitriolic, bombastic scorn.

Is that, like, a good thing or a bad thing?

Do I find ways to bring it up in casual conversation with people I want to impress, or do I stop taking phone calls until this blows over?

I am not sure how to respond to non-censure from this harmless little fuzzball (his words, not mine). This is like having the fat-boy sociopath in school tell you that you are not only beautiful, but brilliant and a world apart from all the prep queens who torture him.

All true, of course. But you'd rather hear it from the captain of the football team.

All of a sudden I have credibility with people who have no credibility with me -- like my brother-in-law, who is politically to the right of the pope.

"You've made it," he said triumphantly. "You've finally made it."

How do you mean that, I ask?

Do I have to respect my brother-in-law now? Is that the unspoken quid pro quo of Rush Limbaugh's absence-of-disapproval approval?

But before I address this issue with the people I don't like and don't admire, I have to figure out what to say to the people I like and admire -- the soft-headed, soft-hearted promoters of touchy-feely domestic issues who are my women friends. I guess I will know their verdict if my car pools dry up.

When I jumped into this columnist game, one of the first things I learned, though the lesson had to be repeated several times, was to develop a hard shell toward criticism: "I don't care what you say about me, just mention my name." Fame would have to be its own balm.

So, my feelings would not have been hurt if Limbaugh had spent three hours on the air calling me a "feminazi" with the maternal instincts of an alley cat.

That he did not do this left me confused. But now that I have had time to think about it, I've decided that I may have rushed to judgment on Rush.

I now believe the man is a thoughtful commentator on the day's news, one so widely read that he is able to bring many differing points of view to the attention of listeners all over the nation, including those who might give me an enormous book deal or hire me to write a screenplay.

I know some of you are thinking that Clinton's lies have driven me into the arms of the only human being who might be more reprehensible than he, but I ask you to withhold judgment and FTC join me in thinking this through:

The man is heard on more than 600 radio stations, OK? You can't buy that kind of publicity. They call his listeners "dittoheads," OK? So suddenly, I have millions of new fans who have never entertained an original thought. You can't buy that kind of devotion.

So hold your angry phone calls to me. I am trying to keep the phone lines open.

I'm hoping Howard Stern might call.

Pub Date: 9/01/98

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