A reader has written me about Wanda Sykes, the comedian who joked about Rush Limbaugh in an appalling way, much to the delight of President Obama. That was at a big Washington dinner — the White House Correspondents Association dinner — last year. The reader says that he looked up what I wrote about the affair in Impromptus. It was almost exactly a year ago, in May 2009. Sykes was joking about the death of Rush — wishing for that death, actually. (And lying about his statements and views.) Today, after a year, the only thing dead is Sykes’s late-night talk show. And a sit-com she was on. They were both canceled in recent days. Our reader says, “I know schadenfreude is a sin, but I think I’ll smoke a cigar in El Rushbo’s honor.”
Let me quote from Zev Chafets’s new biography of Rush (which I happen to review in the next NR):
Traditionally the master of ceremonies [at the dinner] skewers the president, but Sykes tossed a few softballs at him and then turned to her real target. “Mr. President, Rush Limbaugh said he hopes this administration fails . . . like, ‘I don’t care about people losing their homes, their jobs, or our soldiers in Iraq.’ He just wants our country to fail. To me, that’s treason. He’s not saying anything differently than Osama bin Laden is saying. You know, you might want to look into this, sir, because I think Rush Limbaugh was the twentieth hijacker, but he was just so strung out on OxyContin he missed his flight.”
The crowd laughed, and Obama, after hesitating a moment, broke into a grin. Sykes turned to him and said, “Too much? You’re laughing inside, I know you’re laughing. Rush Limbaugh — ‘I hope the country fails.’ I hope his kidneys fail, how about that? He needs a waterboarding, is what he needs.” At this point Obama stopped grinning; Sykes had finally gone too far. He saw the humor in hooking Rush up to a broken dialysis machine, but waterboarding was nothing to joke about.
Atypically, Limbaugh didn’t say a word on the air about Sykes’s routine, or the fact that the president of the United States had smiled broadly, in front of the entire country, about the prospect of his death. He was disconcerted, though, and he was right to be. He was in first place on the enemies list of the president of the United States. The day after the correspondents’ dinner he sent me an e-mail: “I know I am a target and I know I will be destroyed eventually. I fear that all I have accomplished and all the wealth I have accumulated will be taken from me, to the cheers of the crowd. I know I am hated and despised by the American Left.”
You can say that again. But Rush will not be destroyed. His would-be destroyers, maybe. The target himself, I doubt it.