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Get well, Mr. Limbaugh
October 17, 2003
By Mike McArdle

Dear Rush Limbaugh,

As a liberal who occasionally listens to your radio program I'm writing to offer my sympathy and support in your current battle with addiction to painkillers.

It's certainly tempting, especially for liberals like me, to treat your problem with the same callous disregard that you've made so much money displaying on your radio program. I know that some people will take pleasure in your current problems just like they did a couple of weeks ago when you got fired from ESPN for making that inane statement about Donovan McNabb.

Yes, there are some who will think that seeing your current problems is as much fun as watching Bill Bennett grovel for his last earthly five dollars so he could throw it into a slot machine and then watch a row of lemons come up. In other words some will think that this is more fun than a human being should be allowed to have. But I'm not going to be that way. I'm a liberal, a sensitive understanding person, and right now you certainly need understanding.

It's possible that you might have sought treatment at this time even if the Florida drug agents weren't gathering on your doorstep and your former housekeepers accusations weren't blaring forth from every supermarket counter across the fruited plain. But a trip to rehab can never hurt at a time like this. Just ask Darryl Strawberry or Robert Downey Jr.

So I hope that your treatment is successful and I also hope that maybe you're starting to realize that the world isn't quite the simplistic, black and white place that you've made such a good living telling your audience it is.

For example, given your financial resources I'm sure your insurance plan covers a month-long dryout at a prestigious drug rehabilitation center. Fortunately for you you're not one of those hard-working average Americans whose company just moved offshore to avoid paying taxes, taking your job and your medical insurance with it. You'd be in quite a pickle if that were the case wouldn't you ? I mean the poor guy who lost his job might even be one of your listeners. Wouldn't it be a good thing if that fan of yours had some kind of guaranteed national health care he could rely on if he found himself in a situation like yours.

And I hope now that you realize that's it's not as simple you might have thought it was in 1995 when you said the following:

"And we have laws against selling drugs, pushing drugs, using drugs, importing drugs. And the laws are good because we know what happens to people in societies and neighborhoods which become consumed by them. And so if people are violating the law by doing drugs, they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up."

By that standard you'd be moving the Attila the Hun chair to a rather uncozy cell for quite some time.

You said you started abusing drugs because you were in pain. Herniated discs can cause enormous pain and although the insensitive might say that if you weren't lugging around a couple hundred extra pounds at the time your discs wouldn't have hurt so much the more compassionate people will understand. And the doctors couldn't help and you had to find a way to deal with the constant pain. You knew, I'm sure, that drugs, even prescription drugs can be quite dangerous. Hell, they can tie half your brain behind your back. But your pain had to go away. Just saying no wasn't really an option, was it? Of course not.

So maybe now you'll make the connection and see that the people who are saying yes in America are quite often the ones who have the worst and most hopeless lives. Maybe you'll realize that a kid born into an inner city family whose father is a trash man and whose mother cleans offices when she can find work really doesn't have the same chance to succeed in America as a child born to professional parents in the suburbs. And the drug use and crime that so frequently befall children born into poverty are often a consequence of circumstances they had no control over. If it can happen to someone with your prominence and financial resources how much easier is it for it to happen to someone who lives in a ghetto. There are other types of pain than the kind you feel in your back.

So get well, Mr. Limbaugh. I hope that you recover from your addiction and manage to put a rather sticky legal situation behind you. And I hope that maybe, while you're holed up in the rehab and your attorneys are searching for the most - ahem - liberal judge they can find you'll take another look at the twisted philosophy you're addicted to.

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