Drunk with zeal, we root for failure
Zeal, like booze, is now the courage that flows through our political veins. And that's really bad.
Rush Limbaugh famously said “I hope Obama fails.”
Liberalism is our problem. Liberalism is what’s gotten us dangerously close to the precipice here. Why do I want more of it? I don’t care what the Drive-By story is. I would be honored if the Drive-By Media headlined me all day long: ‘Limbaugh: I Hope Obama Fails.’ Somebody’s gotta say it.
Rush Limbaugh’s career and gift was entertaining people by machine-gunning them with hand-selected facts, lovingly dug up from the mainstream media, liberally sprinkled, like tracer rounds, with his opinion. As much as he decried liberalism, it was liberalism in our society that enabled him to take his voice to millions of listeners. An illiberal society would have banned a man like Rush.
These days, many on both the left and the right are calling for an illiberal, heavy-handed government that would ban voices and pens they personally dislike. That wasn’t Rush.
What Rush really hated wasn’t liberalism in the classical sense. He hated the zealous use of government power to enforce illiberal ideas; ideas rooted in the progressive belief that history is destined to arc toward a utopian future, one that they have uniquely foreseen and meticulously planned, human nature be damned. To him, that was “liberalism,” and it was already doomed to fail, so in Rush’s mind, hoping Obama’s policies (such as Obamacare) failed was simply avoiding a bigger failure later.
We are in a post-Rush world. Classical liberalism is out. The naked premise of rooting for failure, for the sake of failure, not just to avoid a later, bigger problem, is in. Pretense is gone. We no longer say things like “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Now we say, “[expletive] you and the horse you rode in on,” and we will pack the Supreme Court (or gerrymander nominations) to ensure it happens.
Yesterday, I quoted a group called “Flag Officers 4 America” (apologies to the group, which I misnamed using the word “for” instead of the numeral). The group is made up of 130 retired flag (i.e. General or Admiral echelon) American military officers, “defending the Constitution.” Without sounding trite, isn’t it every American military officer’s responsibility, by oath, to “defend and protect the Constitution?” But these officers do it zealously.
I was upbraided by a reader who said these were “same bunch that wrote the letter claiming the election was stolen.” Well, not exactly. Here’s what they wrote.
Without fair and honest elections that accurately reflect the “will of the people” our Constitutional Republic is lost. Election integrity demands insuring there is one legal vote cast and counted per citizen. Legal votes are identified by State Legislature’s approved controls using government IDs, verified signatures, etc. Today, many are calling such commonsense controls “racist” in an attempt to avoid having fair and honest elections. Using racial terms to suppress proof of eligibility is itself a tyrannical intimidation tactic. Additionally, the “Rule of Law” must be enforced in our election processes to ensure integrity. The FBI and Supreme Court must act swiftly when election irregularities are surfaced and not ignore them as was done in 2020. Finally, H.R.1 & S.1, (if passed), would destroy election fairness and allow Democrats to forever remain in power violating our Constitution and ending our Representative Republic.
I suppose, reading between the lines, one could discern more than a little bit of “stolen election” hopes in there. But mostly, it was about voting and solid election procedures like Georgia’s legislature passed earlier this year. I had been writing about and calling for sanity in election procedures for years.
The letter does not explicitly claim that the 2020 election was stolen. It uses some code words, shibboleths of a certain crowd.
Naïve me, took it at face value. If 130 Flag Officers really meant that they believe in the Kraken, then shame on me for quoting lunatics, whether they wear stars on their shoulders or not.
But here’s the problem, because I admit right now that I should not have quoted the “Flag Officers 4 America.” Not because they are wrong—I agree with them, on the face value naïve sense—but because they are zealous given their almost sacred position among living Americans. Not many in the military reach the rank of Flag Officer. I personally only know one, and thankfully that name is not on the letter. These officers have traded their allegiance to the liberal principles of the Constitution, and the military’s role as non-political participants in our democracy, for partisan zealotry.
At first, I thought this was a noble and even conscientious act, but thinking more about it I see it as a dangerous stance. If these officers can call for the resignation, or should I say cancellation, of their own commanders (Flag Officers serve for life, and even retired, they can be recalled to duty), because they disagree politically, then what happens when the commanders themselves, with the blessing of the White House and the President, remove others because they personally voted for Donald Trump?
Retired Admiral Mike Mullen, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, quoted by Politico, said “I think it hurts the military and by extension it hurts the country.” He called the letter “right-wing Republican talking points.” Mullen is right.
Though I might approve of what these officers say, I condemn their using their office to say it. Some people worried during the Trump era that he’d purge the military and remake it in his own political image. I wasn’t so worried then, but looking at “Flag Officers 4 America,” maybe I should have been.
Rush Limbaugh was a different case. He was a radio host, not a retired military officer. Rush had no oath to defend the Constitution, or any obligation, like the Hatch Act, to remain distant from political influence. It was perfectly okay for Rush to root for Obama’s failure.
Most of the professional media spent four years zealously rooting for Donald Trump’s failure. They consistently featured stories of the “walls closing in,” looming prison, impeachment (which did happen, deservedly, both times), and the “beginning of the end.” The media and the Democrats played partisan hardball, ignoring any positive outcome from anything the Trump administration did, and highlighting the negative, the dysfunction, and the childishness of the Commander-in-Chief.
So we don’t hear of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, though it was supposed to throw Israel into a firestorm of blood. We don’t hear of the fact that Israelis can now, for the first time, travel freely to the oil-rich UAE, or to Sudan. We don’t hear of the fact that many of our NATO allies did increase their military spending toward the two percent target after public pressure from Trump.
Instead, we hear how some conspiracy-minded people who love Trump, and zealously defend him and certain rights in the Constitution (above others that they don’t love as much, like the 14th Amendment), gobbled down Lupus medicine and now HeartGard for dogs because it could possibly, maybe, treat COVID-19, when it’s already known the vaccines will keep just about everyone from dying from it.
Zeal, like AOC’s zeal for the “Green New Deal,” or MTG’s zeal for believing in Jew-run weather control space lasers, or Madison Cawthorn’s zeal for putting his communications staff in first place over policy, is now the courage that flows through our political veins. It’s the same kind of courage that booze gives men, to ignore their inhibitions, and do really stupid things.
Zeal, taken as medicine, is dangerous when it’s mainlined.
I have been critical of President Biden’s handling of the exit from Afghanistan. I believe he knew he should not have exited the way he did, but did it anyway, cynically believing he could spin the story and blame Trump (it’s so convenient), then depend on the media to move on to the next crisis.
As much as I believe Biden bungled Afghanistan, and COVID-19, and the economy, and the many other responsibilities he has as POTUS, I don’t root for him to fail. I don’t zealously wish that Biden would be removed from office, or that the “walls are closing in,” or that he be impeached, like we hear from certain Republican quarters. Judging by the standards imposed on Trump, Biden should resign, but we all know those standards were fueled by zeal, like alcohol flowing at a college frat party.
Another commenter on yesterday’s article about Biden’s cover-up claimed my friend Erick Erickson, whose newly syndicated show from noon-3pm, headlined out of Cox Media Group and WSB in Atlanta, has put “Jesus in the trash” and “traded that in for power and money Rush had.”
Erick is now listed at #26 on the “most-listened-to radio talk show hosts in America” after only six months.
His show is rated #1 in the Atlanta market in his time slot, and that includes music, talk and all radio. I am proud to be Erick’s friend. I can tell you that if Erick wanted to “be like Rush,” he would be ignoring Rush’s own advice, which was to be himself. As a friend, I can tell you that Erick doesn’t put money, or politics, or even radio, at the top of his life priorities.
I can also tell you that Erick is much more a believer in liberal principles—classical liberalism—than those who seek to cancel him, from either the left or the right. Which is why he’s popular. It’s also why Erick can remain friends with people from a wide political field, from David French to Donna Brazile.
Rush didn’t gain power and money by fleecing people out of hard earned cash to fund his lifestyle. He put in the time, built a brand, spoke to people directly, and attracted advertisers. This is exactly what Erick is doing, but Erick is not Rush.
Like me, I don’t think Erick wants Joe Biden to fail. I wish that Joe Biden didn’t fail when he, of his own accord, did. I wish that Biden would double back, go back, and get the tens of thousands of American citizens and green card holders he promised he would bring home, out of Afghanistan. I wish he would commit the military to do it.
I wish those who are zealous for partisan politics in the military, on both sides, would shut up and do their duty.
Mostly, I wish that people who have zeal for things they shouldn’t—like abortion activists abandoning science that tells us a fetus feels pain after as little as 12 weeks, or progressive huns telling us men can have a period—or people who would rather ingest fish tank cleaner or horse dewormer versus taking a scientifically vetted vaccine—would stick to the principles they zealously defend, and do the right thing.
I may strongly disapprove of some people’s irrational behavior, but I will zealously defend their right to be irrational, as long as their own zeal doesn’t become dangerous. When it does, I am going to zealously oppose them, because doing the right thing sometimes means putting your zeal in a plastic bag and zipping it.
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Rush didn't want Obama to fail to lead, he wanted him to fail to do as he promised in his campaign, which Rush opposed. (I haven't been a Dittohead for years due to Trump.)
I saw nothing wrong with the flag officers' statement up until the last few sentences. I'm not going to let people determine what dog whistles are or are not. I hate that term because its used to assume people don't mean what their words say even when they do.
Keep writing. We're reading. :-)
Interesting column Steve. couple of comments regarding the organizations letter. Here's the opening paragraph: "Our Nation is in deep peril. We are in a fight for our survival as a Constitutional Republic like no other time since our founding in 1776. The conflict is between supporters of Socialism and Marxism vs. supporters of Constitutional freedom and liberty."
Supporters of socialism and marxism? Really? This is why i grow weary, why i believe trump exacerbated every aspect of how we go forward. And to be fair, from both sides. I've written it a hundred times, the freaky fringes of either party are not where most of us reside. There's little value in calling democrats marxists or republicans fascists.
Sadly that is where we are. You know that letter was severely criticized by countless numbers of military leaders across both parties. I suspect you also know one of the authors of it was Army Brig General Don Bolduc who was running for the US Senate in New Hampshire and was an ardent trump supporter who was catering to trump's base.
I also think you are smarter than most and suggesting this letter wasn't clearly directed at the election being stolen is pure silliness. There is a lot to unravel in that paragraph but let's focus on this one sentence: " The FBI and Supreme Court must act swiftly when election irregularities are surfaced and not ignore them as was done in 2020."
I don't want to insult your intelligence but what the hell am i missing? You know as well as i do, the Supreme Court, the FBI nor the 60 court cases brought before judges found any proof of election irregularities in the 2020 election. I know, what about Arizona and Cyber Ninja's? Perhaps someday they will get over Covid19 and hammer out their results. I can hardly wait.
To your point, zealots are a pain in the ass. I have no sense putting their zeal in a plastic bag and zipping it comes close to what need happen. I was one at a point in time and i have come to understand my zeal only added to the misery index. This country desperately need tap into the mushy middle and start working to fix the morass we are trapped in. Sadly, zealots will never let that happen.