October 21, 2003

If Bill Clinton Were Addicted to Oxy-Contin

Exactly right: a perfect strike:

STLtoday.com - Printer friendly - If Bill Clinton were an addict, here's how Rush might spin it: By

Somewhere in a parallel universe, where we are the same people but things have happened in slightly differently ways, Rush Limbaugh greets his loyal listeners this morning.

"Lots to talk about today. You all know already that Bill Clinton, our former president, has admitted an addiction to prescription drugs.

"It's interesting to see the way the liberal media are playing this. I'm looking at a copy of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Saturday, October 11th, edition - the day after the big announcement. Well, the story is on Page 2, and right next to his photograph, in large boldface print, is the following quote: 'I take full responsibility for this problem.'

"That's interesting, folks, because if you look at his actual statement - not what the liberal media say he said, but what he really said - you get a different take on it. First, he says he's got back problems. So he's blaming it on that. Then he says he had surgery, but the surgery wasn't successful. So he's blaming it on the doctors. Then he says the pain medication was addictive. So he's blaming it on the pharmaceutical companies. Folks, he blames it on everybody but himself! But as long as he puts in that obligatory line about
taking responsibility, that's what the liberal media are going to grab: Clinton takes full responsibility!

"Here's another interesting thing in his statement. I love this one. He says a lot of athletes have admitted drug problems and have been treated like heroes. Huh? Can you name one athlete who admitted a drug problem and was then treated like a hero? How about Darryl Strawberry? Maybe liberals thought Strawberry was a hero, but I don't think most of us felt that way. And then Clinton says, 'I refuse to let anyone think I'm doing something heroic here.'

"You want to know what that's about? He's telling his friends in the liberal media how he wants this thing played. He wants to be called a hero for admitting his problem. That's why liberals confuse so many people. They mean the opposite of what they say.

"And I'm telling you folks, the liberal media are going to do it. He's going to be a hero. I can already see the spin on this: Clinton accepts responsibility! Doesn't blame others!

"I know you don't believe me - 'Rush, not even the liberal media can pull that one off!' - but just watch. I'm telling you. Just watch.

"Another thing. I heard him on the radio the other day. He was whimpering, 'I want to tell you about this because you're like family to me.' If there are any liberals out there listening, I'd like to ask you this: Weren't you people like family six weeks ago? How about six months ago? Two years ago? But he didn't feel the need to tell you then, did he? So why now? You think it could be because he's been caught? Because his high-priced attorney has told him he'd better act remorseful?

"Speaking of getting caught, have any of you read about those tapes and e-mails the cops have? Heh, heh, heh. You won't read them in the mainstream press, or hear about them on the Clinton News Network, but they're a hoot. He sounds like he's auditioning for a part in the next Cheech and Chong movie. He calls money "cabbage," and he refers to his favorite pills as "blue babes." It's always interesting to hear the way somebody talks when he thinks nobody is listening.

"I know what liberals are going to say: 'This is a time for compassion.' Let me be very clear about this, folks. I have compassion. But my compassion is for all the people who believed in the guy. He was their shining star. He could do no wrong. But you know something? I probably don't have to worry. Because his followers are going to still believe in him. That's the thing about liberals! You can't convince them! You can show them the facts. You can say, 'Look, here is what he really said, and here is what he really did,' but they don't want to know the truth. That's the big difference between them and us. Liberals are afraid of the truth."

Posted by DeLong at October 21, 2003 02:48 PM | TrackBack


A hypocrite hoist on his own petard. I certainly won't be shedding any tears for Mr. Limbaugh, and I'll be watching to see if the social conservatives' enthusiasm for strict sentences for drug abusers will extend to one of their own.

Posted by: Abiola Lapite on October 21, 2003 03:09 PM

Yes, this was quite good.

Of course, I might wonder if copying the whole thing into your blog is either fair use or a friendly thing to do. Presumably the friendly thing to do is to send traffic his way so that he gets repeat visitors in the long run, and perhaps a click or two of ad traffic.

P.S. Especially since sending traffic his way costs ME nothing, whereas if I had to buy a reader for the typical CAL class, I would probably be spending 90% of my bucks on copyright, copying license fees.

Posted by: anonymouse on October 21, 2003 04:56 PM

Yes, this was quite good.

Of course, I might wonder if copying the whole thing into your blog is either fair use or a friendly thing to do. Presumably the friendly thing to do is to send traffic his way so that he gets repeat visitors in the long run, and perhaps a click or two of ad traffic.

P.S. Especially since sending traffic his way costs ME nothing, whereas if I had to buy a reader for the typical CAL class, I would probably be spending 90% of my bucks on copyright, copying license fees.

Posted by: anonymouse on October 21, 2003 04:59 PM

I don't care about the whole Limbaugh thing, but I do think it was well written. I'm from St. Louis, and McClellan never really made much of an impression on me (I'm from one of those snooty families that gets the New York Times normally, and only gets the Post Dispatch about once a week).

Maybe I should read him more.

Posted by: Julian Elson on October 21, 2003 06:25 PM

All of my conservative friends are falling over themselves to profess utmost concern for poor, poor, dear old Rush. My hunch is that this is only half the story. He is really addicted to speed, ie diet pills. He knows that admitting to diet pill addiction will get him nowhere, especially since his dealers were probably lowlife white trash in the South, people he would demand be locked up if caught selling the stuff. He is a bully. He preyed upon weakness in others. He deserves the same. The problem is that the Democrats don't have the meanness and nastiness to really inflict some pain on him.

Posted by: Cal on October 21, 2003 09:46 PM

Must reading for all conservatives!

Posted by: Michael Carroll on October 21, 2003 10:24 PM

The Democrats don't need no mean 'n' nasty. Dey need da mean funny.

Posted by: john c. halasz on October 21, 2003 10:47 PM

Wow, that was awfully well done. I keep being afraid he would go over the top and ruin the effect, but he didn't.

Hmm. I do think that anonymouse's concerns are valid and probably correct.

Posted by: Keith M Ellis on October 21, 2003 11:37 PM

Keith - you're right, it was a very well-written piece. I could *hear* Rush's voice and inflection.

"A hypocrite hoist on his own petard. I certainly won't be shedding any tears for Mr. Limbaugh, and I'll be watching to see if the social conservatives' enthusiasm for strict sentences for drug abusers will extend to one of their own. "

Posted by Abiola Lapite at October 21, 2003 03:09 PM

I believe that the right-wing PC message is: "this is different. It was to relieve pain."

I'd give Rush sympathy if he got on the radio, admitted to being an addict, and stated that he's rethought his message in light of his own troubles. Until then, I feel that he deserves to be treated as he wants others to be treated.

Posted by: Barry on October 22, 2003 04:11 AM

Is the "cabbage" and "blue babes" stuff true?

Posted by: J Mann on October 22, 2003 07:45 AM

Is the "cabbage" and "blue babes" stuff true?

Posted by J Mann at October 22, 2003 07:45 AM

Yep, heh heh.

Be sure to check out what Uncle Rush had to say when Kurt Cobain committed suicide and show him the same compassion.

Posted by: Kosh on October 22, 2003 08:20 AM

Feel free to speculate on what conservatives would do if the roles were reversed and Bill Clinton was addicted to pain killers. The liberal response demonstrates the low road.

Posted by: bob on October 22, 2003 08:29 AM

You all are missing the real point. It was because of the pain that Rush was such a vicious, callous, hit 'em while they're down, say-anything-to-dirty-up-the-other-side kind of guy. And, and, and.....the drugs impaired his judgement. So lay off already, you meanies.


We already know what conservatives would do. We had the misfortune of hearing Rush. Not to mention Newt, after a mother rolled her kids into a lake to drown (the nefarious result of liberalism - except oh yeah, a right-wing fundamentalist Christian church patriarch had been raping the mom since she was very young, which maybe had a greater effect than pervasive liberalism on her withered mind). Not to mention Reagan (welfare Cadillacs). The marriage wrecking, adulterous (not to mention Constitution-questioning) Henry Hyde playing holier than thou with Clinton. Oh, and Henry had a pack of adulterous friends helping him. Rush was a huge hypocrit, and as Karl Rove (a conservative?) would put it, he's "fair game."

Posted by: K Harris on October 22, 2003 09:19 AM

As someone who suffers from chronic pain as a result of a genetic bone disease, I have a predisposition to sympathize with Limbaugh in this case. I think there are serious problems with an anti-narcotic bias in pain management in this country.

But, there's a few things that put the brakes on how much I am willing to cut Limbaugh some slack.

The first, of course, is his hypocrisy.

The second is my own experience with pain killers, that of my father, and what I know about addiction from an ex who was a drug counselor, and what I know about addiction from another ex who was an addict herself. All these things lead me to think that what was going on with Limbaugh was addiction, not pain management.

There's no doubt that narcotics are addictive. But, relating to the criticisms of current pain-management and drug policies, there's lots of studies that show that average people just aren't that likely to get addicted to them.

My own experience is interesting. My doctor will prescribe twenty Vicodin ES (extra strength) to me on an occasional, as-needed basis. In that past, that's usually been every few months, or so—when I'm hurting especially bad for some reason. (I daily take a prescription antimflammatory.) Anyway, what I noticed long ago was that I like those pain killers an awful lot. If I get a scrip filled, I'll take them until I run out, whether after a couple of days the pain is still severe, or not. It's hard not to take them prophylactically, since, dammit, they make the pain lessen like nothing else does. If you live with pain every day, it's hard not to take something that helps. But it's always bothered me that I invariably will take them this way, and not take a few, then save them for a later severe episode.

Anyway, I mentioned all this to that latter ex—the former addict—years ago, and her comment was: "Really wanting the pain killers is normal. Taking them when they're available is relatively normal and expected. But if you were an addict, you'd make sure that *you didn't run out*." And, of course, I don't prevent that. I use up the twenty, and that's it. If I have another severe episode shortly thereafter, I don't even bother to ask my doctor for more. I mean, I've not even tried. I'm very comfortable with only getting twenty every few months, or so.

Talking about this with my more recent ex (not ex-wife), the former drug counselor, she concurred with the opinion above. Addicts behave differently than me.

My father, who also has this condition, went through a bad bout of, well, lots of stuff several years ago. He also was having cluster migraines. In his case, he found a doctor, or two, who would prescribe more pain killers for him than he should have been getting. Now, I'm not sure if my dad was addicted at that time, or not. He definitely was taking more pain killers than he should have been. But his behavior was a *long* way from what we've heard about Limbaugh.

Taken together, I'm inclined to believe that Limbaugh may have been introduced to pain killers as a result of his back pain, but his abuse of them is a result of his being an addict and having an addict's behaviors and tendencies, not merely because he was in pain. I mean, as I said, most people with chronic pain don't do what Limbaugh did. On the other hand, there's a hell of a lot of drug addicts—people not suffering from chronic pain—that do what Limbaugh did.

So, ultimately, his pain excuse doesn't really wash with me. It makes me somewhat more sympathetic, simply because he suffers from chronic pain and because that brought him to a place where he could become a drug addict. But, in the end, he's an addict just like the pain-free addicts he's criticized in the past. His stay in treatment won't be worth crap if he doesn't figure this out. But his fans should figure this out, too.

You'll notice, too, that to some degree I subscribe to the bleeding heart liberal view of addiction as a disease. Maybe that's because of my relationship with an addict and with a counselor. But, really, there's lots of scientific evidence that indicates that certain people are strongly prediposed to become addicted to mind-altering substances. And they (the addicts) all seem to act frighteningly similar, and by "addicts" I am including alcoholics, of course. In that context, I take the liberal view about Limbaugh that Limbaugh deplores elsewhere: he has a disease. I think he needs treatment, not jail time.

Jail time would be satisfying to me only from a shadenfreude take-your-own-medicine standpoint. But it's not really what I think is right.

Posted by: Keith M Ellis on October 22, 2003 10:07 AM


It would be nice if every cop who lied to keep his average up had to serve the same time as the guy he lied about. It would be nice if every DA who tries to deny somebody he put in jail from getting a DNA test after the fact had to serve the same time if the guy proves innocent. But it ain't gonna happen. Rush ain't goin' to jail.

The interesting thing will be to see if Limbaugh is a "humbled Toad" or the same old toad. Will he dare to advocate jail time for the Daryl Strawberry who comes down the pike?

Posted by: K Harris on October 22, 2003 10:33 AM

Well, he's an entertainer. He can't change much if he wants to keep his audience. Tolerance isn't what he's selling. This is part of what I don't like about pundit culture.

Posted by: Keith M Ellis on October 22, 2003 11:28 AM

fascinating insight into rush follower psychology here - http://www.richardpoe.com/blog_single.php?rowID=317 -
"Do we cut Rush more slack than we would cut Al Franken? You bet. Because Rush is one of ours. He is our leader, our hero, our champion. We take care of our wounded first. Only afterwards do we worry about the enemy wounded, if we worry about them at all. Didn't they teach you that in the Marines?..."

Posted by: anna on October 22, 2003 12:47 PM

What's really funny is the idea that Bill Clinton would fess up at all. I'd expect something like: "I never took any pain killers. Not once. Now I have to get back to doing the work of the American people."

Hillary would go on Today and blame the rumors on the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. And, when the evidence became overwhelming, Bill would dispute the meaning of the word "took".

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on October 22, 2003 04:07 PM

I want to know if he was smashing them up and snorting them, like most oxycontin addicts.

Posted by: Manuel on October 28, 2003 03:01 PM
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