Fellow conservatives, light a candle.
Don sackcloth and ashes.
Even give up sweet tea.
There is reason for mourning, especially if we allow the Rush Limbaughs of the world to serve as beacons of conservative thought and discussion.
I am not a regular listener to "The Round Mound of Dumb-Down," unlike the legions of "Ditto-Heads" who hang on every word bellowed from his jowls. But the few times I have tuned in, I found most of his followers sopped up every speck from the plate, leaving the impression that they are unable to think on their own.
And now Limbaugh has stooped so low as to trash a law student at Georgetown University, because she dared take issue with his views on the Obama Administration's efforts to mandate that organizations --including churches --who provide health insurance for employees, must include coverage for birth control.
To be clear, the Obama Administration is wrong, dead wrong, on this. To paraphrase Jefferson, government should never, ever be allowed to govern matters of conscience. Cardinal Timothy Dolan rightly believes that there is a war going on against people of faith; the Administration's policy is a booming salvo in that war.
But the conservative movement in America has a huge problem, because we've mistaken volume for intelligence, e.g., Mr. Limbaugh. Moreover, conservatives spend too much time listening to Limbaugh and too little reading William F. Buckley, Russell Kirk, George Will and Cal Thomas: All bright, all thoughtful, who care more about the good of the Republic than their own egos and pocketbooks.
And as a result, the Republican Party is in danger of losing a golden chance to retake the White House in 2012.
Author Sam Tanenhaus,editor of The New York Times Book Review, said of Buckley in the Times," I never heard him make a personally disparaging remark about anyone, even adversaries like Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. and Gore Vidal. He might describe something they did or the style in which they did it, but never in an insulting or even critical way. He had a large sense of the human comedy."
There is a deep intelligence in Buckley's sense of human comedy.
By contrast, Limbaugh, who said he was attempting humor in his vicious attack on a bright young woman, is a clown, whose arrogance will not allow him to respect views different from his own.
In developing the true conservative mind and a happy life, Buckley offered this recipe:
"You cultivate the essential virtues: high purpose, intelligence, decency, humility, fear of the Lord, and the passion for freedom."
Limbaugh claims to have a passion for freedom. That may be.
But as for the rest of Buckley's curriculum of "essential virtues," virtues we would all do well to learn and adopt, Rush Limbaugh fails miserably.
Rush should move to the back of the class, and off the air.