Yesterday’s news that Rush Limbaugh was hospitalized in serious condition with chest pains produced a wide variety of political responses, which is entirely to be expected. After all, we know politics ain’t beanbag, and Rush is as tough as they come in this business. Anyone who outboxes not one but two Presidents over a twenty-year career doesn’t need anyone expressing outrageous outrage over the fact that some people don’t like him and won’t wish him well under any circumstances, and I’d bet that doesn’t bother Rush one single bit anyway. (Besides which, it’s a common problem on both sides of the political divide, and we all know it.)
I have a different perspective on Rush, based on our very first interaction, which had nothing at all to do with politics. Rush allowed me to share this story over three years ago when it happened, and I’d like to share it with Hot Air readers now while asking them to pray for a speedy recovery for Rush.
June 18, 2006
A Correspondent To Thank
I have received many e-mails and comments on my back injury and recuperation from [Captain’s Quarters] readers, giving me their personal stories and advice based on their own experiences, and I have found all of it tremendously helpful. I have been grateful for all of the correspondence, but I would like to acknowledge one correspondent whose personal story and outreach to me touched me very deeply, especially considering his experiences with his own difficulties.
I wrote last week about the excruciating pain that the disc rupture caused and the painkillers that doctors prescribed to ease the situation. Some of you wrote to caution me about Vicodin and Percocet and their addictive qualities. One person in particular wrote to me about his own addiction, and in particular gave me solid advice on physiological conditions that would indicate an addictive response from my body. Given the very public nature of his addiction, his note had one hell of a lot of impact on the decisions I have made this week.
That man is Rush Limbaugh.
I know that some people think that conservatives all take orders from Rush, but we’re really not that lucky. I have corresponded with Rush’ staff on a couple of occasions where they wanted to quote my blog — they are extremely scrupulous about asking permission — but other than that, I have never written directly to Rush nor him to me. He read my post and wanted to make sure that I took precautions with pain medication in order to avoid the problems that he faced in very public (and very overblown) fashion.
It takes a special kind of person to reach out in those circumstances to a man unknown to him just to help protect that man from a danger he might not see. That correspondence informed my decisions in the hospital to hold down my pain medication and to transfer to Ibuprofen as soon as possible. I’ve been fortunate; my pain since the surgery has allowed me to rely on the over-the-counter analgesic instead of the Vicodin and Percocet. Had I never heard from Rush, I might not have had the discipline to make that decision.
All conservative writers and radio hosts, even those who do radio as a hobby and political writing as an avocation, owe a professional debt to Rush for his pioneering efforts in creating and expanding the market for conservative communications. I owe a very personal debt to Rush — and I thank him for his thoughtful and timely personal advice.
As I said before, politics is a tough business, and we all sometimes fall into the trap of making arguments personal. We often forget that the people we either hail or deride are human beings, with virtues and foibles not unlike our own. I offer this not as a remonstration to anyone, but just as a way to give people a personal perspective on a man who has become a friend and a mentor over the years, and whose generosity and spirit may not be as widely known as his opinions. Say a prayer for Rush and for his family, and if you can’t do it for the political commentator, do it for the friend.
Get well soon, Rush.
Update: A commenter rightly points out that the “heart attack” was an early assumption, not confirmed. I’ve edited the first paragraph accordingly.
Update II: Tommy Christopher notes the good, the bad, and the ugly of the response so far. Again, this is a problem which plagues both sides of the political divide, and Tommy’s piece takes a fair look at it.