Why Boehner Consults Limbaugh

by francine Hardaway on July 25, 2011

I hear Speaker Boehner ran his debt ceiling plan by Rush Limbaugh. Before today, I would not have been able to understand why.

But this morning a taxi picked me up this morning to go to the airport. The driver, a long-haired Vietnam vet was listening softly to Rush Limbaugh.

I like to get different perspectives, so I asked him to turn it up.

Rush was on some kind of rant. He began by saying Obama’s approval ratings had declined to 45%. The reason, he said, was that the left had become dissatisfied. Limbaugh never took the next step, however, of saying WHY the left was dissatisfied. Instead, he shifted in mid-paragraph to an anecdote about being picked up at the airport in Boston at 3 AM and having the driver strike up a conversation about the heat.

Apparently, his driver was impressed by the fact that it had been 99 degrees in Boston that day. Limbaugh asked him if that was a record. The driver admitted it was not — that Boston often reached 99 in July.

Limbaugh then went on to talk about all the other stories he had heard about the recent heat wave. He asserted that of all the cities that suffered from the heat, not one had really set a record for temperature. Instead, he informed his driver and his audience, all the records referred to the heat index. The heat index, he said, was invented in 1978, meaning it hadn’t always been there, and had been implemented in 1979. For Rush, it is an artificial standard.

He made special mention of MSNBC, where a panel including Rev.Al Sharpton and Michael Shmerconich made fun of Rush’s attempt to discredit the heat index.

Never mind that both of these people, Sharpton and Limbaugh, have bigger fish to fry than this fight. Or do they?

After listening for about fifteen minutes, I realized that the debunking the heat index argument is Limbaugh’s proxy for the issue of global warming. After all, if there were no records set in July, in a week where the media spoke constantly about heat, then global warming can’t be real either. It’s an artificial construct like the heat index.

In geometry, this kind of reasoning is known as syllogism. if A = B, and B=C, then A = C right?

By the time I got out of the car, I was both deeply respectful of Limbaugh’s ability to lead an audience into a cul-de-sac by just raising his voice and using the inflections commonly associated with reasonable argument, and appalled at how deft all this right wing talk has become. There’s no way even Rachel Maddow with her Rhodes Scholarship can touch this. It is the finely honed rhetoric of religion, in which a reasonable argument is often constructed on a strange (to me) premise.

This kind of reasoning is analogous to the discussion America is now having with Grover Norquist, a man nobody elected and few of us have even heard of, about how to balance digging ourselves out of debt with continuing to feed the family. Right now it looks like Norquist would have us pay off those credit cards at the expense of buying groceries.

Hasn’t he heard of getting a second job?

Limbaugh is a skilled rhetorician. But I still choose to believe global warming is real.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous July 26, 2011 at 2:01 am

I believe you are wrong on both counts.

Rush’s comments about the ‘record-breaking heat wave’ were part of a campaign to discredit Legacy Media – to encourage people to stop taking everything the Legacy Media say at face value.

Did Boehner ‘consult’ Limbaugh?  Quite the opposite.  Speaker Beohner knows that he can directly reach an audience of 20 million people.  He – and other conservatives – are learning how to bypass the traditional gatekeepers who have displayed a propensity to treat conservatives – who they see as the enemy –  in an entirely different manner than Liberals – who they see as allies.

P Huntley July 26, 2011 at 9:10 pm

Francine.  Don’t worry, most of us will still love you even if you used your left hand to tune your radio to a Rush station and your right hand to click on and turn up the volume!  (No need to cower in the back of a taxi)

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