Rush Limbaugh to the Rescue
When I was just a tyke, I read the following joke in Reader's Digest: "I recently visited a friend's office and noticed how voluptuous all his secretaries were. I asked him about it and he said he had a simple rule when he interviewed a woman. He'd ask her to put her hands behind her head and walk towards a wall. If her elbows were the first things to touch then the interview was over."
I can't tell you what year or issue that was from. The Reader's Digest might have been in a waiting room which opens the years up to the 1800s, but it was probably from the late 1950s or early 60s. I do remember thinking how screwed up it was. That's why I still recall the joke all these years later. Sure, it had the routine lameness of the Reader's Digest - remember Humor in Uniform? But it also had a meanness to it that just wasn't funny. I'm not going to say I understood exactly why - I had probably just been reading a few years. But I knew this boss at the office was a big-time loser, and his friend was a jerk for thinking this was funny. It was also a small step in mistrusting authority as I sensed Reader's Digest wasn't doing anyone any favors by printing it.
It's been a week since the Michael Richards thing broke. I've struggled to process the response. Some of the invariable jokes about it seem too forgiving. Everyone has trouble processing something this ugly. I've written about how it gave me a feeling that the people I trust to be cool about things, are clearly not. I needed to get a sense that I was not misled that badly - that my instincts still work better than this. The people I oppose on a political level for having that basic meanness, needed to step up and prove I was right.
That's why I owe Rush Limbaugh a big debt of gratitude. He's helped me mend. Now, it would be easy to bring up the Michael J. Fox thing, but that's not what did it. I also once heard Rush say something so racially insensitive that I was convinced it would be a big story. If you must know, Rush was talking about how Democrats were scaring the elderly about Social Security. This was several years ago when an African American male had been dragged to death behind a pickup truck in Texas. I believe the town was called Jasper. Rush kidded that the Democrats might as well have an ad where an elderly black woman is dragged behind a truck to the Social Security office. And he was chuckling like this was funny. Now, I can't tell you when he said that but I ran to the tape recorder to get it on tape. He had moved on.
Of course this was years before the Michael Richards situation, but this week I happened to read a transcript of a live Rush performance at the Warner Theater in Washington. It reminded me of the time decades ago when I read the sexist joke as a tyke. Rush's big opening humor was as follows:
"You won't believe this. I haven't told this story much. Some time ago, I found myself in an elevator. It was in New York, and it was at a wedding. It was in Brooklyn, and I'm getting in the elevator to leave. It's been a long night, and just as the door is about to close, somebody puts their hand in the elevator doors that close, and it's Hillary Clinton. (laughter) She's senator at this time. She is a senator. and she gets in the elevator. She sees me, and she hits the stop button on the elevator. (laughter) She said, "I don't believe this. Do you know how long it's been since I have felt like a real woman?" (laughter) I didn't say anything, but I was thinking, "Yeah." (laughter) She said, "Would you make me feel like a real woman?" I said, "Certainly." So I took off all my clothes and I put them on the floor of the elevator, and I said, "Now fold them." (laughter)
Thank you, Rush Limbaugh. I needed to be reminded what jerks you right wing conservatives can be. It's been a tough week but I've found my way again. Thanks, Rush. I can go on now.