Limbaugh’s Boswell, &c.


Have you read Zev Chafets’s biography of Rush Limbaugh — An Army of One? (Actually, the complete and proper title is “Rush Limbaugh: An Army of One.”) It’s a highly interesting book about a highly interesting man. And Chafets is a total pro: as a writer and a journalist. (Extremely versatile fellow, too. Just look at his list of books.)

Here is something that Rush said on his radio program:

I talked to Zev via e-mail the other day, and he’s been blackballed from a lot of conservative television shows and networks. He has not been invited. He’s gotten some invitations on liberal programs, but no conservative programs are taking him to interview him. . . . I said, “Zev, that should not surprise you, it shouldn’t surprise you at all.”

Well, it surprises me. I think it’s downright weird. Chafets is A-1 interview material. Here is a guy who is basically a liberal — not a lefty, but a good Cold War liberal, I think — and, as I said in a review of his book, he completely “gets” Limbaugh: “gets” him and his audience (and Conservative America). All liberals should be so understanding, or even a fraction as understanding.

My review of Chafets’s bio? It appeared in the June 7 issue of National Review, and you may find it here. The review is just a shorty. I plan to say more about the book, and Rush, in this here column sometime later . . .

Interesting about Chafets’s name: It can be done many ways. There is a Utah congressman, a Republican, named Chaffetz. And there was, of course, Heifetz — Jascha Heifetz.

Want to know a little more? Congressman Chaffetz’s father was once married to Kitty Dukakis. Kitty Dukakis’s father was Harry Ellis Dickson, who was a conductor of the Boston Pops, and also a violinist — like Heifetz. (Well, nobody was a violinist quite like Heifetz.)

Chafets’s first name can be done a couple of different ways, too: On the cover of some of his books, he is “Ze’ev”; on others, “Zev.”

You can count on me for the really fundamental stuff, I know . . .

The other day, I was looking at some attacks on Republican candidates, and where did they come from? Something called the Patriot Majority. This is a left-wing PAC: the Patriot Majority. Can you imagine if a conservative outfit called itself the “Patriot Majority”? Armageddon!

And you may remember a bumper sticker from long ago: “The Moral Majority Is Neither.” That was a popular one in my hometown of Ann Arbor (as you can imagine).

Earlier this week, I had occasion to write about the Patriot Act. And I was reminded of a truth, long ago articulated: The worst thing about the Patriot Act is its name. If it were called something else, people wouldn’t get the McCarthy heebie-jeebies about it — or would get fewer of them. Don’t you think?

And, as Impromptus readers have heard me say a hundred times, I never liked “Homeland Security” — that word “homeland.” It’s just not very American. It has connotations of Vaterland and Volk.

But you can get used to anything. And “JNap” and “Homeland Security” just roll off my tongue. (Word to the wise: “JNap” is a shorthand for the director of homeland security, Janet Napolitano.) (Wonder where her ancestors came from.) (That was a joke: Naples, of course. In Italian, “Napolitano” means “Neapolitan,” as you know . . .)

A poll showed that 11 percent of Americans approve of Congress. As Bob Kasten, the former senator, quipped to me, “You gotta wonder who that one guy is — the one in ten, approximately.” True! National Review has a quip about that 11 percent in our forthcoming issue: Who knew there were so many trial lawyers?

A sparkling remark (which I can say, because it was not mine, I’m sorry to report).

I’ve mentioned this before — I think on the Corner. I think it’s weird that Vice President Biden refers to President Obama as “Barack” in public. He has done it again: “Barack and I are realists,” he said. When I brought this up with some colleagues the other day, Rick Brookhiser said, “Can you imagine Nixon referring to Eisenhower as ‘Dwight’?” Or “Ike”! I believe that Cheney, in private, called W. “sir.” And, in public, it was always “the president,” or “President Bush,” of course.

Is Biden’s use of “Barack” a little — condescending? Patronizing? Is he merely trying to show intimacy? Is he just kind of clownish, or “out there”?

Let’s scroll through history a little. Can you imagine GHWB referring to Reagan as “Ronnie”? How about Garner, Wallace, and Truman? Would they have referred to the president as “Franklin” — or “Frank”? The mind reels!

I like it when politicians, and other public figures, talk about themselves with complete candor. Not long ago, Ruth Bader Ginsburg said she was a “flaming feminist.” Why, sure. I liked it when Governor Dukakis said proudly, “I am a card-carrying member of the ACLU.” (Ginsburg worked for the ACLU, as you know.)

Hey, this column is kind of Dukakis-heavy, isn’t it? That’s strange, for 2010.