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Posted at 09:42 AM ET, 03/05/2012

Super Tuesday: Rush Limbaugh hijacks the not-so-super conversation

Quick, without Googling, can you name at least 6 of the 10 states voting on Super Tuesday? I can do it, but only because I am paid to care about this stuff somewhat. (And, um, I can’t seem to get to 7.) This is the most critical day among the many critical days in this protracted primary contest, and everyone in America is talking about ... Rush Limbaugh.
L-R: Rush Limbaugh, Joe Arpaio, and Andrew Breibart (L-R: Ron Edmonds/AP, Charlie Leight/AP, Haraz N. Ghanbari/AP)

Rush hijacked the national conversation with his ugly comments about Sandra Fluke. This is the latest incident in an on-going controversy about Obamacare’s rules regarding health care coverage of contraception. Rush’s “slut” slur has now fully overwhelmed the kerfuffle that erupted last week in the wake of the sudden death of professional controversialist Andrew Breibart. Breitbart’s death incited ugly grave-dancing comments by lefties and then blowback by the right, and then debate about who’s more uncivil in blogworld. Somewhere in the mix of all this Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Arizona held a press conference to cast doubt on the authenticity of Barack Obama’s birth certificate from Hawaii.

There’s something deranged about all this. My theory — my hypothesis, I mean — okay, so it’s just a conjecture — is that conservativism has been so successful as a form of emotion-stoking entertainment that it must constantly one-up itself to provide the audience with the same endorphin jolt.

The audience builds up a tolerance to the stimulus. It wants more — just to get the same happy hatin’-on-Obama buzz.

For the peddlers of conservative entertainment, this means that it is not enough to say anymore that Barack Obama is an incompetent, or that he’s a hardcore liberal, or that he’s bankrupting the country. No. The message must be: He’s a socialist. He wants to take away your freedom. He doesn’t believe in America. He’s a Muslim. Also he’s a follower of a radical black preacher (who is Christian, but whatever). He was born in Kenya. His friends are terrorists.

I’ll see you the end of America and raise you the end of the world.

This is about ratings. There are so many other things for people to pay attention to these days. Did you see Tiger vs. Rory yesterday? LeBron vs. Kobe? When I was a kid, there was one NBA game on TV per week. You could only get that third TV channel if you fiddled with the rabbit ears. A big entertainment night for us was watching the fireflies emerge from the woods. I used to dig holes randomly in the yard just to soften the pain of the chronic boredom. [Regulars think: He’s going to mention chasing the mosquito fogger again.]

If politics is entertainment, though, you can find yourself in a jam. You can discover that your leading candidate, Mitt Romney, just ain’t that entertaining. Mitt, what you got for us today? Can you say another one of those Thurston Howell III things? (Loved the line about “I have worn a garbage bag as rain gear.”)

If you’re Jeb Bush, your head is exploding. The Obama administration has been running trillion-dollar deficits and can’t seem to get unemployment below 8 percent — and America is talking about contraception!

By  |  09:42 AM ET, 03/05/2012

 
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