Our National Drug of Choice

No one is above the outrage cycle. We have now, in our culture, synthesized the two worst elements of pre-9/11 and post-9/11 media: the pre-9/11 obsession with meaningless bullshit; and the post-9/11 obsession with filling every story with apocalyptic portent and over the top, tween-girl-at-a-Jonas-brothers-concert hysteria.

We still care too much about J-Lo’s dress and the Summer of the Shark. Now, we get around the idea that we are shallow for giving a shit about such things by infusing them with pseudo-political importance and our current national drug of choice, outrage. Everything is an outrage. Everyone is outraged. Every turn of the news cycle gives us a new opportunity to pound the table. Every item that crawls across the newsfeed at the bottom of our screens is an excuse to stab one’s finger into one’s chest and declaim, solemnly and with vast consequence, “I, for one, am sickened.” This is how a shallow culture convinces itself that it is deep.

Freddie DeBoer

So Rush Limbaugh is not going to be able to own a piece of an NFL team.  Let us all rejoice.  Or whine about the outrageous politicization of the bastion of innocence that is professional sports.   What is important is that we all either rage against the coming apocalypse this portends or celebrate the saving of the world at the zero hour that it means.

Sure, the idea of bringing in a man who accuses blacks of wanting to re-impose segregation to be a significant minority owner of a team in a league that is 65% African-American made about as much business sense as having Al Sharpton sponsor a PGA Tournament.  It is outrageous and offensive to every racially sensitive American that such a man would even be considered for such a socially meaningful position as minority owner of an NFL franchise so sacred that Cleveland, Los Angeles, Anaheim, and St. Louis have all claimed it as their own over the last 70 years.  And goddammit, the delicious irony of a man who proudly proclaims himself a stalwart of limited government owning a piece of a brazenly rent-seeking and taxpayer subsidized professional sports team simply cannot be so much as imagined in this era of humorless, self-congratulatory outrage.

Of course, the outrage of allowing such a man to be included as a minority partner in a group that may someday decide to c0nsider making an offer on a blessed professional sports franchise is exceeded only by the far greater outrage of suggesting that Limbaugh might not be someone with whom the not-at-all image-conscious NFL wants to associate.  Never mind that Limbaugh is an extraordinarily polarizing figure whose views are well-known to wide swathes of the NFL’s fan base (and players), and might therefore be a bit of a drag on the league’s profits.  No, instead it is truly outrageous and offensive that a profit-seeking enterprise would choose profits over granting an opportunity for a much-oppressed radio talk show host to join its Good Old Boys club.  Even more outrageous is that people would object to such a kind soul being invited to maybe someday decide to consider making an offer on the Holy St. Louis Rams after one of the dozens of racially-charged statements this man has made in recent years turns out to be of dubious sourcing.  After all, it was clearly that dubiously-sourced quote, and only that dubiously-sourced quote, that drove profit-seeking NFL owners to object to Limbaugh’s entry into their prestigious club after decades of discrimination against wind bags.

These outrages, however, are not enough to satisfy our craving.  What is necessary is to demonstrate how they are evidence of an even bigger, undebatably apocalyptic outrage.  Clearly, that outrage is our state-controlled media,* and the punishment of speech.

So sally forth and be outraged.  Or not.  Just so long as you were outraged yesterday or today or will find something new to be outraged about tomorrow, and understand that today the Single Most Important Thing In The World is whether Rush Limbaugh will be invited to be reinvited to maybe join in some way a group that may someday soon decide to propose to buy the St. Louis Ronald Reagan Rams of the United States of America, Puppies, Babies, and All That Is Good and Holy In This World.

*Seriously – “state-controlled media”?  Rush has reached the point where he is indistinguishable from Alex Jones.  How long until he starts making daily rants about the Bildebergers, fluoridated water, and Roswell?

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68 thoughts on “Our National Drug of Choice

  1. Mark, dude, a little blind spot here with Mr. Limbaugh?
    I don’t agree with everything the man says, he’s way to neo/GOP for me, however, I do credit him and his fellows with stopping many of the incredibly statist programs of the Left over the years.
    Rush is no racist, and I note that like “the mainstream media” you don’t come out and directly charge him with racism, rather you take the tact of intimating it…it’s all rather sad, and from what I’ve read here, beneath you. That is the sort of vile act one would expect from Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson, people not known for their intellectual abilities or their charity (other than for themselves).
    I haven’t been following this brouhaha closely but I just heard someone suggest that the accusations against Limbaugh may be actionable in court. If so, I’d really like to see him sue his accusers, those that may have slandered him, and confiscate their wealth. Rush’s “name”, his reputation, is his only possession. If he loses that, he loses his ability to earn a living.

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    • I’ve got no idea what goes on in the man’s head, but I do think it’s beyond dispute that he regularly says things that are reasonably perceived as offensive. Whether they are “racist” or not, they are at a minimum “racially charged”; beyond that, the man has made a career out of demonizing a gigantic swath of the country. I don’t even hold this against him, necessarily – he makes a good chunk of money doing it, and it’s not as if I’m above listening to edgy radio.

      Regardless, one of the points of this post is that no one outside of the NFLPA had any reason to care whether Limbaugh would be in a group that might potentially buy the Rams. So the controversy in the first place was stupid. But at the same time, the NFL is a business and has to worry about its bottom line, and whether or not people should care about whether Limbaugh was a minority owner in the Rams, the NFL has to consider that people do in fact apparently care.

      Beyond that, Limbaugh is considering legal action based on one or two quotes being used against him that are likely fabricated (which I note here); if they were in fact fabricated and the media sources that referenced them knew or should have known that they were fabricated, then I hope Limbaugh wins, even though I’m not necessarily the biggest fan of libel laws.

      The problem is that those two quotes are hardly the reason why Limbaugh ran into problems here – the guy openly makes a living by being as polarizing as he possibly can be (again, I’ve got little problem with that, in and of itself). The NFL is not going to bring in an owner that has spent years demonizing probably half the NFL’s fan base and regularly making public remarks that up to 65% of its players find offensive (whether or not you or anyone else thinks they should find those remarks offensive is irrelevant). I have little doubt in my mind that you would see a similar reaction if for some strange reason Al Sharpton one day decided to buy a hockey team or be a major sponsor of a PGA Tour event.
      But the point that I’m trying to make with this post is that this should have been a non-story at each step of the way. There is nothing in this story that should have ever concerned anyone outside of Limbaugh, the Checketts group, Goodell, and the NFLPA. But, for some reason, our shallow culture has decided that this is a Really Big Deal About Which Everyone Should Be Outraged. I find that a sad commentary.

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    • You can find thousands of racist quotes from Limbaugh on the internet. I want to see the GOP rise again, but find it difficult with these cultist pundits making us look ridiculous.

      And with 21 million listeners, he IS the mainstream media.

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  2. Speaking of state-controlled media, anyone else find it troubling that the US military just banned embedded journalists from taking pictures of personel killed in action?

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  3. “Rush is no racist.”

    No, you’re right. He just says racist things. I mean, we all know there’s a world of difference between having racist thoughts in your heart…and speaking them out loud on the radio for fame and profit.

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  4. “Whether they are “racist” or not, they are at a minimum “racially charged”; beyond that, the man has made a career out of demonizing a gigantic swath of the country.” Do you find it “racially charged” for a Caucasian to criticize a person of color; does that mean the Caucasian is a ‘racist’? What do you mean by “demonizing a gigantic swath of the country?” Do you mean Rush is ‘demonizing’ Blacks? How so? When? Can you give us a quote? Do you think there’s a difference between ‘demonizing’ and critiquing policy, politics, belief systems?

    “Regardless, one of the points of this post is that no one outside of the NFLPA had any reason to care whether Limbaugh would be in a group that might potentially buy the Rams. So the controversy in the first place was stupid. But at the same time, the NFL is a business and has to worry about its bottom line, and whether or not people should care about whether Limbaugh was a minority owner in the Rams, the NFL has to consider that people do in fact apparently care. ”
    Mark, you can’t have it both ways. Either Rush being shit-canned is news or it isn’t. I might suggest that in terms of contemporary media this is quality stuff. A whole lot better than J-Lo’s cleavage. But, the real news is Limbaugh being thrown out of the consortium for being a “racist,” at least according to some. Now the story has morphed into who labeled Rush a racist?

    “The problem is that those two quotes are hardly the reason why Limbaugh ran into problems here – the guy openly makes a living by being as polarizing as he possibly can be (again, I’ve got little problem with that, in and of itself).”
    Well, here again we can’t have it both ways. And, I’m curious about the word ‘polarizing.’ Do you mean he’s a bad dude for criticizing the Left, the Administration, whoever? I mean ‘free speech,’ come on! You can criticize his politics and that’s fine but whining about ‘polarizing’ people, pleaseeeeeeeeee, we’re adults here and I’ve noticed the LOOG rarely takes prisoners!

    “I have little doubt in my mind that you would see a similar reaction if for some strange reason Al Sharpton one day decided to buy a hockey team or be a major sponsor of a PGA Tour event.” Mark, dude, that’s pure, unadulterated bullshit! I could care less if Al Sharpton or any man/woman of color bought any damn thing and for you to say that I would is beneath you, and you damn well know it.

    Mark, as you may know, one of the more pernicious aspects of Marxism is it’s inherent desire to silence the opposition. Today, some but by no means all, Leftists have adopted this tactic in response to Rush and many of his coevals on talk radio simply because they know talk radio in getting out their specific opposition to the distortions and perversions of the Left have just killed the commie-Dems the past twenty years or so. The Left apparently has decided to silence Rush, by any means necessary. Consequently, we see the effort to brand Rush a ‘racist.’
    What surprises me is that you’ve joined in, if not explicitly then implicitly. While I’ve vehemently argue with, whined, moaned, and bitched with any number of some rather bright, if derailed, interlocutors on this site, I’ve not run into any that would embrace the old Marxist trick of ‘smearing’ your enemy in order to silence him.

    Mark, I’d really like to see you dump this one, dude, and join with me in celebrating and championing Free Speech. I hope you love Free Speech more than you detest Rush Limbaugh?

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    • Dude – the market is speech. And the Left doesn’t want to silence Limbaugh – he’s the best marketing tool they’ve got. Why else would James Carville, et al, mount an organized campaign to paint him as the leader of the opposition?

      Anyways, when I say “racially-charged,” I’m referring to things like accusing black people in this country of wanting to re-impose segregation on white people when discussing the school bus incident a few months ago, his singing of the Magic Negro song, and his fairly regular attempts to find a racial angle to things. He has every right in the world to say these things, and if someone were mounting a secondary boycott against his advertisers, I’d agree that the secondary boycott would show a depressing lack of respect for free speech (although, of course, such boycotts should be protected by the First Amendment as well).

      But the thing about free speech is that sometimes you’re going to say things that offend people, and they get to speak back and say that they’re offended and that they would never work for you or won’t support a team that has you as an owner. Perhaps people take offense too easily to various things, but that is another issue entirely; the point is that it is not remotely news that people are offended by Rush Limbaugh….people have been offended by him for years. And I suspect he’s usually been okay with that, because the more that people publicly take offense to him, the higher his ratings go and the more money he makes.

      I’m also not saying that you, personally, would angrily object to Al Sharpton owning an NHL team. I am instead saying that he would not be able to buy an NHL team for exactly the same reasons as Rush Limbaugh is unable to buy an NFL team; the overall public reaction would be, in essence, the same.

      Finally, when I refer to “demonizing a gigantic swath of the country,” I’m referring to the fact that a majority of people in this country are not conservative, and a large number of people in this country are outright liberal. Limbaugh has made a lot of money over the years portraying that not-insignificant portion of the public as evil, stupid, etc. Again, I’m totally ok with this – it makes for good entertainment, makes him lots of money, and fills the time-honored role of rallying the base and being, in effect, a movement whip. But when he tries to maneuver into an industry where success and profits entail appealing to a large number of liberals and moderates rather than merely to his own choir, it shouldn’t exactly be a surprise that the same liberals and moderates he’s spent years painting as evil, stupid, etc. might have a problem putting money directly in his pocket.

      Look, there would be nowhere near this level of objection if someone like a Bill Bennett or even a Hugh Hewitt were in Limbaugh’s shoes here. But someone like a Bill Bennett or a Hugh Hewitt would never be in Limbaugh’s shoes because they don’t do the things that drive Limbaugh’s ratings – and paychecks – up to the point where he can afford to be a minority owner of an NFL franchise. Again, though, I think it silly and shallow that anyone outside of the NFLPA would care even one iota about Limbaugh being a potential minority partner in a bid to buy a football team; but equally silly and shallow is the outrage that Limbaugh won’t be able to be a potential minority partner in a bid to buy a football team because he has a propensity to say things that people find offensive.

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      • How does a secondary boycott of advertisers show a lack of respect for free speech? This sort of thing gets said lot by people on the right (oddly enough), but free speech is a political right, not a market right. If you say something I don’t like, or support someone who says something I don’t like, “free speech” means I’m not allowed to use the power of the state to shut you up. It doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to tell you to shove it and stop associating with you or buying your things. That distinction is key and really undermines a lot of the really obnoxious victim politics that so much of the right engages in (and, laughably, accuses the left of engaging in).

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        • Oh, I totally think secondary boycotts should be permitted under the First Amendment, including secondary union boycotts (which, by the way, are currently not protected by the First Amendment). But when you’re pulling a secondary boycott because of offensive speech, the message you send is not merely “I will not support this speech,” but instead “this speech must be silenced.” Sending that message is of course a right of free speech in and of itself, but it can hardly be said to respect free speech.

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          • The message you send is not merely “this speech must be silenced” but also “let market forces apply”.

            In essence, free market forces do not always respect the right of free speech. If that statement is true, which one should be supported and which one condemned? A difficult decision for free-market believers. An easy decision for those who might hold a less favorable view of the free-market.

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            • Nonsense on stilts John. It’s a right to free speech. Not a right to have people listen to your free speech. If the market decides that you’re not interesting/entertaining enough and takes you off the air then your right to free speech is uninhibited. You can always talk to your cat.

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              • North, I agree with you. I think you might misunderstand my point.

                I was addressing Mark’s point about secondary boycotts (of Rush’s advertisers) as only being about silencing speech (or not respecting free speech). I was trying to point out (badly) that a secondary boycott is also about free market principles. Those conducting the secondary boycott are trying to force the market to decide “that you’re not interesting/entertaining enough”.

                The quandary is interesting to me (in a Scylla and Charybdis kind of way). Yes, secondary boycotts can be about silencing speech. But, isn’t that how the market works (or is supposed to work)?

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            • I don’t think it’s a conundrum at all. The thing about free speech and free markets is that you have to accept that they will occasionally allow things you don’t particularly like to happen – being in favor of free speech and free markets only when you like the results kind of misunderstands what they mean. But that doesn’t mean that every exercise of free speech and free markets shows respect for those freedoms…just that if you actually do respect those principals you have to be okay with people expressing disrespect for them. So Michael Moore can make a movie advocating an end to free(ish) markets, profit off it by distributing it through free(ish) markets, and I have to be perfectly okay with his doing so. But that does not mean I have to conclude that he respects free markets or find his movie morally correct. Similarly, if someone shouts from the rooftops “this person should be silenced” and proceeds to take non-violent, non-fraudulent steps to achieve precisely that end, I have to be perfectly okay with allowing him to do so. But I don’t have to conclude that they respect free speech rights or are acting in a morally correct fashion (although, if union secondary boycotts were permitted, I’d find them to be fully respectful and moral uses of free speech rights…odd that those are the secondary boycotts that are prohibited, isn’t it?).

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              • I don’t disagree. I was just struck by how your comment about “this speech must be silenced” seemed to disregard the market forces at play. After all, our right to free speech is a very important (perhaps the most important) element that allows a free market to operate.

                And, yes, I agree that it is strange that union secondary boycotts are prohibited (while we don’t prohibit similar things from corporations). However, unions still try them from time to time, since the NLRA is somewhat vague on the definition (and a union can continue to achieve it’s goals while the lawsuit is being heard). Yet, it is these kinds of things (secondary boycotts) that many conservatives say would make unions too powerful.

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          • But the thing is…You’re given a right to say whatever you want, but there’s no first amendment right to being able to say it on the airwaves. Given that commercial radio is a market oriented business, I think it’s rather odd that there’s a free speech concern at all in secondary boycotts.

            Or are you suggesting that everyone should have the automatic right to broadcast his opinion freely and have advertisers support him? Is NPR’s Call of the Nation essential to free speech now or something?

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            • Nob: I’m explicitly not saying that secondary boycotts should or could be prohibited under the Frist Amendment. What I’m saying though is that when you participate in a secondary boycott, you’re not merely expressing opposition to speech, you’re actively attempting to prevent other people from hearing that speech. The point is that it shows a lack of respect for free speech when you try to shut speech down. Again, I think this can and should be allowed, and is itself highly protected speech. But that doesn’t mean I have to pretend that it shows respect for others’ speech rights any more than I have to pretend that Capitalism: A Love Story shows respect for markets.

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              • I’m saying that broadcasting isn’t “speech”. It’s a medium to transmit speech.

                For example you or I don’t automatically have the right to go around and throw our voices on the radio waves whenever we want. We have to actually build up the market oriented devices to do so. (Whether that be starting our own radio network or being successful enough to have our own radio shows) Given that speech is a negative right from the government (that is government can’t force people to go around not saying xyz) not a positive right where we’re given some privilege to make a gajillion dollars a year spouting off hate, I’m not sure there’s any free speech issues with secondary boycotts.

                Just because Rush won’t have a show if secondary boycotts succeed, doesn’t mean he can’t keep spouting off his opinion. It just means he won’t have a job where he can exploit his opinion and make money. The object isn’t to shut down his speech, that’d be wrong and immoral. The object is to make him pay a price for it.

                There’s nothing in respecting free speech that requires that people keep getting paid millions of dollars to be an asshole. None.

                I respect his freedom to say whatever the hell he wants. But that means I have every right to tell his advertisers “fuck you if you’re going to support this asshole spread his hate.” And his advertisers being market oriented profit maximizing firms have every right (if there’s enough of me) to say “okay, we won’t support him anymore, will you buy our stuff now?”

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    • My goodness Bob, silence the man? We on the left love him. His jowl waggling bloviating drives more and more voters into the arms of the democrats every day. Every time he tongue lashes a Republican public official and they apologize and beg for more a hundred moderate hands write a hundred campaign contributions to the Dems. Silence him? Why? He’s an endless well of benefit for the left.

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  5. “The Left apparently has decided to silence Rush, by any means necessary.”

    I defy you to provide one single shred of evidence to support this statement. Not that the Left hates Limbaugh, but that the Left is trying to “silence” him.

    I’ll make it easy for you, by not including the “by whatever means necessary” part, which only makes your assertion completely ridiculous.

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  6. Is it really all that outrageous to form strrong opinions when elements of politics and culture invade widely popular cultural institutions? Maybe you don’t like football or professional sports in general. But the money, fame and racial elements involved seem to make it an interesting lens through which to view certain questions. Is it valid to think about the history of race and economics and culture by studying, say, Motown? You can poo-poo it all you want. It’s just a few silly pop songs, after all. Anyone interested in that era could just as easily study the actual civil rights movement. But I think that Motown clearly matters. Back exploitation films matter. The Turner Diaries matter. Sidney Poitier matters.

    Uh… pretty clearly, Hank Greenberg and Jackie Robinson matter.

    At least I think so. And I think it would have been pretty short-sighted for pundits–and fans–to listen to scolds griping that people ought to ignore these things. You know. TO think about more important things like Senate Bill 1415, subsection G, paragraph 9. Or whatever.

    Look. Maybe really important and smart people ought to bury their heads in the sand and consider racial issue only in the confines of Cultural Studies Departments at the Ivy League, or maybe the Beltway think-tank orbit. But for my money, of you really are interested in racial issues and their impact on culture (and vice versa) things like the Limbaugh blow-out seem like a perfectly reasonable thing to get worked up about. We have a set of extremely wealthy black athletes who play an extremely violent sport, largely for the enjoyment of white audiences and the profit of white owners, essentially refusing to play for a white guy who may or may not be a racist, based on a set of quotes, some of which clearly appear to have been fabricated for political effect, and control of the cultural institution in question.

    Yeah. Let’s all ignore that so we can pat ourselve in the back for our serious views.

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    • Actually, I’m a huge fan of professional sports, and football in particular. But come on – are you really going to compare Rush Limbaugh to Hank Greenberg and Jackie Robinson?

      Regardless, had the reaction of the Right to the backlash against Limbaugh been of the “why is it so important to keep Limbaugh out of the club” variety rather than the apocalyptic “See! Conservatives are being systematically silenced” variety, I’d be 100% on the side of the Right, and I definitely don’t write this post. Sadly, that is not what happened.

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  7. With regard to the race question, the comment that comes up most often is the one he made during his short tenure as a Monday Night Football commentator. He said that certain people were anxious to see Donovan McNabb do well because he was black. Anyone who followed the NFL even casually at the time knew how absurd this comment was. Beyond the fact that McNabb was and is one of the better QBs in the NFL on his own merits, there were many other very good ones, e.g., Steve McNair, who shared the MVP award with Peyton Manning one year. Limbaugh’s remark made about as much sense as saying that Larry Bird was idolized because he was white (and yes, there were a few who did say that).

    I don’t know if Rush is racist, or if he intended this remark as racist. But the alternative or additional interpretation, for which there is so much evidence one need not even point to it, is that Rush, like so many in the media today, makes a living by being provocative. He wants to get people angry, because angry people keep him and his show in the news. Controversy drives up ratings, even if it is a phony, manufactured controversy. This works for a media job (and our culture is far poorer for it IMO, but this apparently is what large numbers of people want). It does not work for the owner of a professional sports team. As much as Rush and his supporters want to make this about his conservative views, it is not his views, it’s the way he expresses them. He insults people, he humiliates them, he caricatures them, he misrepresents their views. For all I know, he might be friends with some of these people off the air. It could all be an act. But this is what he does, and this doesn’t work for the owner of a professional team. I know this not because I own one, but because so many very conservative, rich, Republican owners are now saying that’s the way they feel. They probably wouldn’t accept Michael Moore, either.

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  8. “Limbaugh’s remark made about as much sense as saying that Larry Bird was idolized because he was white (and yes, there were a few who did say that).”

    But the Byrd point is entirely valid. I knew tons of people growing up who like Notre Dame football because they perceived it as a “white” team. And have you ever heard the term “the great white hope”?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_White_Hope

    Or the fact that there is a very long history of people of all races hooking their emotional wagon to people of the same race in sports? I seem to recall a very recent boxing match in which the main narrative subtext was that one of the fighters was Mexican. And Mexican people were rooting for him! DO you not think there was ANY racial element to the way Tiger Woods was received as a golfer? Do you think his race had NO impact on who rooted for and against him? And you think these factors are not worth study or consideration at all? None of it is worth getting worked up about?

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    • Yes, there has been and still is a long history of people finding a symbol of identity and power in an athlete of their nation, race or ethnic class. Manny Pacquiao, currently rated pound-for-pound the no. 1 boxer in the world, is idolized in his home country, the Philippines. As are certain Mexicans, Puerto Ricans and Ghanians. When Desmond Tutu toured the U.S. many years back, someone asked him if Martin Luther King had been an inspiration to Africans. He replied, yes, and before him we had Joe Louis.

      I don’t dispute all that. The point is, the need for most African-Americans to look to star athletes to validate their identity passed a long time ago. Limbaugh’s remark was stupid precisely because the question of whether or not a black could play the position at the elite level had been settled for a long time. It was not necessary for anyone to build up McNabb, because even if he wasn’t a great QB, there were other African-Americans who were.

      If Limbaugh really wanted to say something both highly provocative and with the ring of truth, he might consider asking why, every Olympiad, American networks put such exaggerated emphasis on U.S. athletes. Why do we need to do well in sports? For that matter, why do certain political elements have so much invested in the idea of American exceptionalism? What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander,

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  9. Personally, I think Rush would mean money for the league. People would tune in just to cheer against the Rams. People would tune in just to cheer for them. People would tune in.

    They would call into their local sports radio show and yell about the referees with regards to the Rams.

    The league would have a new Raiders. Finally.

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    • Fair point. Then again, how many people watch/don’t watch a game because of who the minority owner is? I tend to think that this was a bad business idea not because of what the fans would think but because it was just asking for problems with the players. I also tend to think that’s why the NFL said no, especially with a looming labor crisis next year as it is. Regardless, you have to have players in order to make money at professional football, and if a lot of players would refuse to play for a team, you’re not going to be able to make money off that team.

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          • Sure.

            It strikes me as one of those empty threats where one can publicly scream about one’s principle but, when the rubber meets the road, a football contract is a football contract and the big game is the big game and if you have an opportunity to be the guy that the rubes out there want on their own fantasy team and you know that if you don’t take it, there are 200 guys who will…

            It’s like saying “I could make $100,000 this year but I will instead only rest on my laurels!”

            Nah. At the end of the day, the big game is too big.

            Besides, if you do well, maybe you’ll be traded to a real team.

            Like the Broncos.

            Who are, I understand, undefeated.

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            • I am one of the 17 American males who does not watch any football, ever. No local teams, no playoffs, no superbowl. Or, rather, I don’t watch “American football” and haven’t for decades.

              However, I watch lots of football. Manchester United!

              To your point, I always thought these types of threats serve 2 purposes:
              1. To convey how strongly one feels about a particular issue. Adults can’t stamp their feet, or roll around on the floor crying like a 3-year old (except maybe if your last name is Beck), so they make these hyperbolic statements instead.
              2. To inflate one’s own importance. If I tell everyone I’m taking my ball and going home, then you will all be sorry!!!11!!1!

              Alas, it is human nature to inflate our own importance (and our views, beliefs, ideas, etc.).

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  10. As for McNabb, I think it would have been quite reasonable to hope that a black quarterback succeeds. I mean, given the history if treatment that black quarterbacks have received:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2000/12/27/us/joe-gilliam-is-dead-at-49-pioneer-black-quarterback.html

    My mother liked JFK because he was Catholic. She hated boxingm but rooted for Boom Boom Mancini because he was Italian.

    The success of a black quarterback would signify, however marginally, some degree of progress in the minds of players, fans and institutions. It shows that coaches at the high school level will consider playing a minority at quarterback, that this continues through the college level, and that NFL scouts are on board. And that fans will accept him. Etc.

    So when all that comes to pass, is it all that unreasonable to think, “I hope that guy succeeds”?

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    • “So when all that comes to pass, is it all that unreasonable to think, “I hope that guy succeeds”?”

      It depends on whether it’s the guy’s first day on the job or whether he has actually done a great deal of stuff that would qualify as “success”. If it’s the latter, I could see how someone would say that the statement is far from innoculous but a sugar-coated damnation with faint praise.

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    • This would all make sense if it weren’t for the fact that: (a) McNabb was indisputably one of the league’s best quarterbacks at the time; (b) Doug Williams had been the Super Bowl MVP almost a decade earlier; (c) Warren Moon had already been to 9 Pro Bowls and named an All-Pro 3 times and several player of the year awards; and (d) Steve McNair had just shared MVP with Peyton Manning. In other words, at the time Limbaugh made his remarks, there was no longer any reason to root for McNabb because of his race.

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  11. This is just too good to pass up.

    Tonight… We Are All Rush Limbaugh

    Earlier this evening, as most of you now know, one of our own, Rush Hudson Limbaugh, while taking withering fire, crashed and burned.

    Tonight, Rush is no longer ‘just’ a radio personality.

    Tonight, Rush is no longer ‘just’ a NFL owner denied

    Tonight, Rush is us. And we are him.

    Tonight Rush became the metaphor for all of us… every man woman and child in this great nation of ours.

    The enemy of this great nation, the enemy of you and me, Rush’s enemy… those on the left, inside and outside of this nation abhor success… and when faced with it will destroy it… by any and all means possible.

    I think this is what Mark Thompson is referring to when he writes “the apocalyptic “See! Conservatives are being systematically silenced” variety”.

    Sometimes, I really wish that the left had the power that the clinically insane movement right thinks it has.

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  12. I expected to read about drugs and drug wars, given the headline.

    Bloviating may well be an addiction for Rush & Co. Blogger-bloviating an epidemic.

    But the real world’s got some serious issues with racism, drug wars, addiction, unjust legal systems, and underground economies.

    Want to see real racism? Want to see a real problem with drugs? Judicial discrimination? Go look at the demographics of our prison population and the reasons for their incarcerations. It ought to give us all something meaningful to bloviate about.

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  13. I wonder how many other owners of sports teams are racist? I mean, we’d never know because they aren’t pundits or public figures like Rush. But I bet plenty are. And you know what? That makes me so mad.

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  14. I frankly didn’t really care if Limbaugh was the part owner of the Rams even if he has made racially charged statements. I think he is an odious creature, but he can do what he wants even if I don’t like it. But I do agree with Rick Moran that it is a little ironic that the NFL is getting on its high horse where it was one of the last professional sports leagues to hire a black head coach and gave a second chance to a guy that drowned dogs for fun.

    http://rightwingnuthouse.com/archives/2009/10/15/the-nfl-is-worried-about-a-racist-owner/

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  15. James Joyner has a pretty good response to the “one-man-boycott” of the NFL over this Outrage.

    It’s sad when punditry – not even politics, but fealty to a pundit! – gets in the way of enjoying a game of football (or a season of football for that matter!) Truly, if we’re more addicted to outrage than to sports – I mean, it just goes way beyond the pale.

    I personally think it would have been fun to have Limbaugh part owner of a losing football team. Think of all the pejoratives and silly, awful songs he could have written about the other teams.

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  16. “In other words, at the time Limbaugh made his remarks, there was no longer any reason to root for McNabb because of his race.”

    Of course, some people would disagree. And perhaps it matters that one of the people who would disagree appears to be… Donovan McNabb?

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=3025308

    The title of the article is: “McNabb says black QBs under more pressure.”

    Selections:

    McNabb, in an interview on “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel,” tells interviewer James Brown that African-American quarterbacks such as himself face added pressure because there are fewer black QBs — and because some still don’t want black athletes playing the position.

    “There’s not that many African-American quarterbacks, so we have to do a little bit extra,” McNabb tells HBO. “Because the percentage of us playing this position, which people didn’t want us to play … is low, so we do a little extra.”

    But… problem solved, right? Nothing to see here. That sounds a lot more like what people might expect to hear from Rush.

    I am not defending the guy. I never listen to him. And I don’t care if he owns the Rams or not. But it seems odd to get really outraged over the fact that people get outraged over small things. Especially when it’s not all that clear that the issue is small at all. You might think race is no longer an issue in the NFL. But black players clearly do, as evidenced by McNabb’s statements in the link. And the fact that the NFLPA registered objections to Limbaugh’s bid. And the fact that someone, for whatever reason, thought it necessary to gin up fake statements from Limbaugh, when apparently, real ones are easy to come by.

    Is this really just between the NFL and the NFLPA? I guess so. But the NFL is a powerful cultural institution. Sports are in general. Again, that’s why jackie Robinson mattered. In your mind, was Robinson just another case of employee relations? What about Marge Schott a few years ago, owner of the Cincinatti Reds, who was making BLATANTLY racist comments in public? What about John Rocker?

    Let’s say a huge company like GM or EXXON issues a new policy regarding the treatment of gays in the workplace? Does that merit any larger attention? Or is that between the corporation and its workers? Am I allowed to be interested in that? Or form an opinion regarding the wisdom of that policy? To get mad about it if I disagree with it? Or does that make me shallow, too?

    I don;t know. Maybe you are different than me. Younger, I suppose. But in the mid-80s, my favorite NBA players were Kurt Rambis and Larry Byrd. I wonder if there was any racial element to those preferences. I wonder of black kids form the inner city have any reason to prefer Tiger Woods to Fuzzy Zoeler?

    I guess I am just not at all convinced that we are nearly as post-racial as all that. I seem to recallm, even in the NFL, a few years ago we were all holding hands and congratulating ourselves because both coaches in the Super Bowl were black.

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    • Like I said, I’d have no problem if the general reaction from the Right was to take this discussion down the road you’re taking it down here. This is a discussion worth having, and it directly connects to something that actually is indisputably important.

      I also don’t at all think that race has ceased to be a problem, either in the NFL or nationally.

      My problem is with the way in which this rapidly turned – on both sides – into an apocalyptic battle of good versus evil in which there was to be no talking to the other side, just self-victimization and fantastical accusations. On the one side, it was “Rush Limbaugh is a racist, and racists cannot be permitted into the sacred hall of NFL minority owners”; on the other side, it was “conservatives are being silenced for no reason other than their political views.”

      The reality of course was that “minority owner of an NFL franchise” is an insignificant position that’s not terribly influential even within the franchise, and the players are old enough to fight their own battles on this (an unspoken element here, by the way, is that Rush Limbaugh’s attitude towards unions is also pretty well-known, and the NFL is in bad shape in reaching a labor agreement as it is). The other reality is that the NFL is extraordinarily self-conscious nowadays about its image on racial issues and has been ever since the Rooney Rule was adopted; whether this is good or bad is a topic worth discussing, but claiming that it’s evidence of an attempt to silence conservatives is not.

      “But in the mid-80s, my favorite NBA players were Kurt Rambis and Larry Byrd. I wonder if there was any racial element to those preferences. I wonder of black kids form the inner city have any reason to prefer Tiger Woods to Fuzzy Zoeler?”

      This is admirable honesty on your part, and again an excellent topic worth exploring. But it’s a topic that Limbaugh and much of the right are utterly uninterested in discussing; they are “colorblind,” they proclaim, and thus anyone accusing them of racism is just trying to silence conservatives.

      So my issue isn’t with this being treated as a newsworthy story, or even as something more than just a labor dispute. My issue is with the way in which it was immediately turned into, depending on your side, “anti-racists versus racists” or “conservatives versus people trying to silence conservatives.”

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        • Sure there is. But those attempting to do so really, honestly, do think he’s a racist based on his past statements. At the very least, they really, honestly, do think he has a history of making racist statements. The question, I suppose, is whether those honestly held beliefs are demonstrably untrue or are just absurd and thus worth ignoring in considering whether players may have a problem with Limbaugh.

          And I don’t think it unreasonable for someone to draw such a conclusion. Whether that conclusion is correct may perhaps depend on what you consider “racism,” but it’s hardly an absurd conclusion. The downside of being provocative and edgy and intentionally controversial is that you’re going to inevitably offend a lot of people. When you’re being provocative and edgy and intentionally controversial on issues of race, then the specific group you’re going to offend is going to be other races (more often than not).

          Perhaps we should grow thicker skins on this sort of thing – that’s an argument well-worth having. But the fact is that we’re pretty thin-skinned in this country when it comes to controversial statements, and have been for quite some time (this is not a left-right issue, either). This has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with our culture. Which is, I guess, my entire point here.

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          • Yeah…the irony here is that rather than making our community stronger by being somewhat less offensive, we’re diluting the proper power of condemnation. The truly horrific is indistinguishable from the truly banal.

            My personal thought on this is that this is a reflection of our collective egos, perhaps we’re jealous of the drama of the generations before us, I don’t know. Because the events of our lives are so fantastically outrageous – we must be bigger, more important people – for the momentousness of our lives demands it of us. I think we don’t confront the outrage partly because it makes money but also because to do so would strip away the glamour of the drama and leave the mediocrity of our times (and ourselves) in its wake.

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    • If black QBs are under more pressure, it’s because people like Limbaugh keep insinuating they’re inferior to white QBs. As I said earlier, the question of whether an African-American can play the position well was settled a long time ago. What has not been settled is whether certain people are nevertheless going to continue to flog this dead horse. It’s the flogging that bothers McNabb, I’m sure, not any insecurity, any nagging belief that members of his race don’t cut it. He knows there are people who are going to question his ability because of his race, and no matter how confident you are that still haunts and hinders you. Jackie Robinson was supremely confident in his abilities, and still he was enormously, and reasonably, insecure because of all the hatred towards him.

      Sure, Limbaugh could argue that his remarks on MNF referred to the fact that some people still don’t believe the issue of African-American QB quality has been settled–not that this issue has in fact not been settled. But if he agrees that the issue itself has been settled, then the only point in making the remarks is to stir the pot, remind everyone that some people still have these unsubstantiated views. I find that a very strange way to make that point. In fact, by making it the way he did, he seems to be saying in the same breath that he is one of those people. Because he sure didn’t add something like, it’s ridiculous that anyone thinks a guy this talented has to prove anything to anyone. Whereas if Limbaugh didn’t think the issue had been settled–and I have yet to hear him say categorically that he believes the issue has been settled–then, as I said before, he’s just being stupid.

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      • I think you’re misunderstanding what McNabb was saying. The insecurity doesn’t come from the haters but from the doubters and the pressure to succeed. It comes from the fact that when you’re the only member or one of a handful of your group in a particular environment you become representative to some degree. You don’t need jeers to add pressure. The pressure is internal, it’s from the community, it’s to not let down supporters, and also to show up detractors.

        The pressure McNabb’s feeling probably has a lot more to do with NFL politics and the future of black quarterbacks than anything Rush or anyone else has said.

        I’m black and my family’s discussed pride in McNabb for demonstrating how capable black quarterbacks can be in the context of their continued rarity. McNabb is a milestone not evidence of a settled question.

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        • Do you really think that’s an issue at this point, after all the successful black quarterbacks? If it is, I have to ask, how many does it take before we get beyond this? There have been quite a few.
          I honestly did not know that anyone had a racial issue about quarterbacks until Limbaugh made his MNF statement. I couldn’t then, and still can’t now, understand WTH he was referring to. Sam mentioned the fact that many ethnic groups take great pride and identify with star athletes that come from their culture. While acknowledging this, I really, really do not see a similar situation for black NFL quarterbacks. Been there, done that.

          Coaches, yes. It was big deal when Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith met in the SB a few years ago. I don’t think it should have been, because long before then black coaches had established themselves, and winning a SB is more symbolic than necessary proof of that fact. A lot of fans were happy when Bill Cowher won one, but if he never had, he still would have been regarded as one of the greats. In the same way, Dungy did not have to win to prove anything for African-Americans. But I understand the symbolism is important to some. Having said all that, I do not see the symbolism as an issue any more for QBs.

          Anyway, this is all a little off the point. The MNF statement was that the “media” wanted to see a black QB do well. Whatever McNabb’s feelings about what he had accomplished or had to accomplish, the media was beyond this problem. And Limbaugh’s most recent statement, when he in effect says his being dropped from the bid is a further symptom of “Obama’s America”, illustrates perfectly the over-the-top comments that make him unacceptable to the owners. He couldn’t turn the other cheek and say he thought they made a mistake, but would accept their decision, that he didn’t want to be a divisive figure. Many, many people have been passed over for jobs they really wanted for far less cause, and they gracefully bowed out. But not Rush. He had to play the victim role to the hilt. He’s like the bully who starts crying when someone stands up to him.

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          • A couple of thoughts.

            First, the settled question statement just seems so clinical. “Oh repeatable success, settled.”

            Race relations/issues of race just don’t work that neatly. I wish they did. I wish we could use numbers and timelines but it’s quite clear we can’t.

            Second, From the McNabb quote he’s talking about the rarity of his position, the low percentage of black quarterbacks (true and true). These have nothing to do with Rush’s comments or similar sentiments, these are numbers. Then he says that some people (probably including but not limited to Rush) don’t want to see black athletes to play the position and call me old fashioned but I would imagine that includes some (probably not many) team owners, coaches, and fans.

            McNabb may not be a pioneer but that doesn’t mean there’s an absence of pressure or that his professional sports career is post-racial. It’s the pressure of metonymy and it’s not limited to race or gender, so I would think that it would be more widely understood.

            For black men, there’s such a need in the community for positive role models that there is a pressure to excel professional and conduct yourself well personally, particularly when the rarity of other examples, means there aren’t others to pick up the slack. So, in that sense, black basketball players are a dime a dozen, they have far more leeway to act out. Black linebackers and running backs, same. Black quarterbacks and black presidents, not so much.

            I want people to succeed because, generally speaking I want people to do better/their best. However, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want McNabb or President Obama to succeed at least somewhat because they’re black, because their failure or a perception of their failure would be uniquely demoralizing.

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          • “He couldn’t turn the other cheek and say he thought they made a mistake, but would accept their decision, that he didn’t want to be a divisive figure. Many, many people have been passed over for jobs they really wanted for far less cause, and they gracefully bowed out. But not Rush. ”

            Well, to be fair, the main quite people were using to illustrate how divisive and racially insensitive he is… was a fake quote. Worse, it appears to have been trotted out by someone who writes, if I am not mistaken, for the Nation.

            So sure. People get passed over for jobs. It has happened to me. And for good reasons. But if the main reason I did not get a job was a quote that I never uttered, I would be angry. And if that quote came to light because of some political rival of mine, who was willfully misquoting me, then various major media outlets repeated that quote until I was passed over for the job, I would probably be pretty angry. I know it’s unfashionable to outraged around here. Still.

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  17. I agree that there is tedium. But it’s tedium from the usual suspects. Of course K-Lo is going to be outraged. In effect, pundits get paid to be outraged. I am not sure this is anything new. What i hope, actually, is that the media works the way it is supposed to work.

    For instance, there’s a tragedy in a foreign land. People die. The Right and the Left spend a few days or a few months trading barbs, trying to make political hay of it. Blaming each other. Which is news! So a smart editor somewhere assigns a Mark Bowden or a Phillip Gourevitch to do a serious story about it.

    This obviously doesn’t rise to the level of an international crisis. But I think there are some important forces at work. One reason that we have not seen a serious, in-depth discussion of those forces is that generating that discussion takes time and resources. Michael jackson ODs one day. We get a lot of hathos. But maybe, if we are lucky, a few months later, we will get a serious discussion of prescription meds and pain killers and doctor/patient relationships, using MJ as the news hook.

    I would actually be ver interested in seeing any number of serious pieces that could stem from this event. One sure way to make that happens is for people to care about it. As evidenced by a ton of over-the-top, up to the minute controversy about it.

    Of course, that’s how it’s SUPPOSED to work. We shall see. (Not holding breath, sadly.)

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  18. Vince should have waited until now to do the XFL.

    He could have got Limbaugh in as an investor. He could have put Limbaugh in as color (with Good Ol’ JR). They could have advertised on Rush’s show! Rush could talk about Linda McMahon running against Chris Dodd!

    IT WOULD HAVE BEEN PERFECT!!!!

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    • Heh. Joe Lieberman could have even stood in Chris Dodd’s corner during the XFL Halftime Senatorial Debate, then just as Dodd was successfully defending his ties to Countrywide, he could have hit Dodd over the head with the teleprompter. Then, while standing victoriously over his former tag-team partner’s prostrate body, he could have ripped off his blue suitcoat and his fashionable tie to reveal his Adam Smith tie and Bush-Cheney 2000 lapel pin as JR shouts “My God! Joe Lieberman has lost his mind!”

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  19. So…

    Whatever happened to the “culture of responsibility” that these talk radio conservatives like to espouse? If Rush hadn’t said stupid, provactive things in his quest to make money at the expense of scruples it’s likely he wouldn’t have been denied his dream of partial ownership of a NFL team.

    Whining about it is just more victimology crap.

    Freedom of Speech isn’t freedom from consequences of speech.

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