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A Rush to judgment . . . and proud of it

An L.A. television reporter apologized Tuesday for getting choked up over Barack Obama’s inauguration. A day earlier, a CNN correspondent had danced effusively on the National Mall. Even Fox News reporters beamed as they spoke about the march of history.

But booming over some 570 radio stations was one loud, defiant voice, saying no -- never -- to President Obama and the thought that America may be headed toward better days.

Rush Limbaugh made clear that he’s prepared to mock, scorn and badger the man with the daunting job of trying to turn our country around.

Radio’s biggest blusterer doubtless has real problems with Obama. But he’s clearly inspired most by a fresh opportunity to inflate himself to ever greater proportions.

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Asked recently if he was depressed by the shift in power, he scoffed: “I am energized, I am honored and I am happy to be the last man standing.”

He greeted Bill Clinton’s presidency with the refrain “America held hostage.” Now it’s “the last man standing.” Get ready to hear it for at least four years.

In other words, the last true conservative. The last stalwart with no intention of cutting the Democratic president an inch of slack. To do so, Limbaugh suggests, would be to give in to socialism.

In recent days, he has harrumphed about Obama as a “cult” and a “full-fledged leftist.” He has mocked the fledgling administration as “a giant public relations stunt.”

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El Rushbo appears to believe some of this stuff.

As he told partner-in-narcissism Ann Coulter this past week on his “Excellence in Broadcasting” network: “I don’t apologize. Ever. Of course, it helps that I’m never wrong.”

Unfortunately, his occasional winks of irony seem to be lost on many in an audience estimated at 20 million, who attack any perceived slight to their hero.

I concede Limbaugh got it right Tuesday when he said Obama’s inaugural “was not a great speech.” I enjoyed his barbs at hypocritical “green” Democrats who flew a squadron of private jets into D.C. for the big day.

But that hardly forgives the whoppers he spins out for his listeners, some of whom seem willing to believe that Obama really did cause the recession all by himself.

Other commentators must be fools to believe the president’s Cabinet appointments signal a moderate course, Limbaugh suggested recently.

“I mean,” he said, “we all know that Bill Ayers will provide primary advice on education.”

There’s the great joy of being Rush: Everything is so simple. Good guys, bad guys. And if you can’t find a bad guy in the arena, drag one in from the outside.

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Obama’s actual Education secretary happens to be a reformer who supports charter schools and sometimes angers teachers unions -- things conservatives are supposed to love. So why not pretend someone else will be calling the shots? And why not make it a one-time radical bomber?

The media smacked Rush’s man, President Bush, in the chops from Day One. So he certainly will not miss a chance to hit back. Rush’s rules of the sandbox, doncha know.

The big fella made it clear how much he would miss W. when he cooed last week about an intimate lunch he had with the outgoing president. The highlight came when Bush presented his favorite radio guy with a little chocolate birthday cake, complete with a little chocolate microphone.

Rush said he wished his parents could have lived to see it, the outgoing Leader of the Free World crooning “Happy Birthday” to him.

Wait a minute, isn’t this the guy who chortles about those slow-witted Democrats? You know, the ones who get all gushy about having their man in the White House?

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james.rainey@latimes.com


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