Tuesday, March 06, 2012

The Elephant Graveyard

To us, today is a day closer to our long trip to daughter Anna's wedding in a few weeks. To the rest of the country, it's the day of the Super Tuesday primaries OR, in realistic terms, one more step on the Death March towards the Romney GOP nomination. If you think the process has already gone on too long, blame the zillionaires who keep Santorum and Gingrich in the race with bags of cash that they have no other use for.

Now, as to this week's title. It refers, not so much to an event, but a phenomena that repeats itself from time to time. What I'm referring to is people of great fame who are caught saying or doing something stupid, which, in turn, wrecks, often with lightening speed, their credibility and reputation.
This is difficult to do in some industries. You have to really step in it to be scorned if you work in Hollywood or Wall Street, where bad conduct is pretty much expected. Big name athletes also are allowed more than one or two screwups, while corporate CEO's have whole staffs of company flacks dedicated to pooh poohing all sorts of violations.
So you can go awhile in the USA as a bad person pretending to be a good one, but when things finally turn around, your rep can go in a heartbeat. Consider the following as examples, in no particular order: Nixon, Bernie Madoff, Bobby Knight, Dan Rather, Magic Johnson, Lindsay Lohan, Serena Williams, Tiger Woods, Joe Paterno, Spiro Agnew, John Edwards, Martha Stewart and Jack Abramoff (sp?). The cynical among us might regard holders of elective office as the most likely to join the list, but I don't think they are really more likely to show up than, for instance, the owners of a sneaker factory located in China. Anyway, I hope the idea is clear. It's elephants (people who are widely known) going to the graveyard (when their misdeeds are revealed).
And this week there's a huge candidate for posthumous pachyderm - talk radio king Rush Limbaugh. The big guy's made fortunes getting people to be angry about something, most always someone else. He's gotten away with saying nasty things for decades by pretending (when it's convenient) to not be the emperor of the Republican Party, but just an entertainer who has a load of self-invented nicknames. all proclaiming his devotion to THE TRUTH, which (to him) is that Democrats are scum who deserve every kind of punishment, including capitol, just for being alive.
But this time he may have overplayed his hand. He entered, uninvited, as usual, the debate on the use and payment for birth control products, and in the process referred to a Georgetown University law student who was attempting to testify before an all-male congressional hearing in the nastiest of terms - for three days straight. The nation's response has been one that Limbaugh did not anticipate. The folks who have built his empire - advertising sponsors - have begun to take their money elsewhere. The big guy even felt forced to apologize, although in a fashion that said, in effect, "It's a shame I'm so much smarter than the rest of you, but, if you insist, I will stop calling young college women s___ and p_____ and stop demanding video proof of their shameless behavior."
I don't think there's much question that Limbaugh will end up in the elephant graveyard some day, but he's so rich that it may not be soon. Still, if he doesn't learn anything from this little kerfuffle, he'd better. After all, those college women, who've never listened to AM radio, have parents, and no one can force them to turn on the radio, either.


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