In my column this week on the debt-limit talks, I compared House Speaker John Boehner to members of his caucus who rejected the deal he and President Obama were trying to reach to cut the long-term deficit by $4 trillion. I wrote: “Boehner lives in the real world. Most members of his caucus live in Foxland or Rushville, where talk shows define the truth.”
The last sentence prompted the following delightful note from Alan Icenogle, the editor and publisher of the Rushville Times in Rushville, Ill. The paper, I should note, is rightly proud of the fact that it has been “Serving Rushville, Schuyler County and the Surrounding Area Since 1848.” Mr. Icenogle wrote:
Dear Mr. Dionne:
I just read you column published in the July 14 edition of the Peoria (Illinois) Journal Star and was surprised to see “Rushville” mentioned.
I think that you are referring to those Republican members of Congress who take their walking orders from Rush Limbaugh.
I'm not sure how many residents of Rushville, Ill., will see your column, but those who do may be somewhat confused by your reference.
Could you please assure us that you were referring to some hypothetical “Rushville” and not to the people of Rushville, Ill., Rushville, Ind., or any of the other actual cities of Rushville scattered across the United States? Thank you.
A perfectly fair inquiry, so let me be clear: The Rushville in my column was not intended in any way to refer to Rushville, Ill. – or Rushville, Neb., Rushville, Ind., Rushville, Iowa, Rushville, N.Y., Rushville, Ohio, Rushville, Mo., or to any other actual Rushville in the United States or abroad. And while I’m at it, my reference to Foxland was not a reference to Foxland Forest, Tenn. I was, of course, referring, as Mr. Icenogle elegantly put it, to “some hypothetical Rushville” (and Foxland), meaning those members of Congress whose reality is defined by Mr. Limbaugh and the talk show hosts on Fox News.
Since Mr. Icenogle took the trouble to write, I asked him to tell me a little about his Rushville. He wrote that Rushville, “is the ancestral home of the Scripps family of publishing fame. The Rushville Times was founded in 1848 by John Locke Scripps whose descendants went on to build the publishing empire. Scripps Park, which includes a lake, ballfields, swimming pool, playground and golf course was built on land donated by the Scripps family early in the 20th century.”
Rushville, Ill., he informed me, “was founded in 1826 and was named after Dr. Benjamin Rush.” And: “Rushville High School graduate Larry Ball (1967) was a member of the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins Super Bowl Champions.”
By the way, Rushville, Ind., is where one of the great Republican progressives, Wendell L. Willkie, set up his campaign headquarters for his unsuccessful but memorable 1940 campaign against Franklin D. Roosevelt. It’s hard to think of a Republican more different from Rush Limbaugh than Willkie, who is buried in Rushville, Ind..
My great thanks to Mr. Icenogle for defending every Rushvillian (and Rushvillite and Rushviller) in America.