Saturday, August 25, 2007

THE SOFTER SIDE OF RUSH. Our subject found himself at the tender age of 37 accused of being "racist, sexist, bigot, homophobe, mean-spirited, angry." But he overcame:
There are certain areas in the business that I am the most successful person in the world where I cannot work because of what I think. Now, I have not run around and bellyached and whined and moaned about it. I have accepted it as a badge of honor because I do not allow myself to believe that those people are better or more important than I am. Just the exact opposite. And I have found a way to work around it and found my niche here. I know what I'm good at. I'm doing what I was born to do...

Everybody has obstacles to overcome. Now, Eric said that he's heard me bellyache and whine and complain about things. Not within the context of being discriminated against! I've found ways to work around it. Everybody has to.
The speaker is Rush Limbaugh, and he's tired of people who can't see this is a land of opportunity, because if Rush Limbaugh can make it, despite his disadvantages, then anyone can. The tirade is set off by a mention of racism. And he accuses Democrats of exploiting the feelings of "a country half full of unsatisfied, malcontent, miserable, unhappy people" with bellyaching about racism and poverty, and rock concerts.

I am in general sympathetic to the notion that we should try to rise above our circumstances. Still, I would be shy about citing my own history as a white man with a college education (notwithstanding my humble beginnings) as a counterweight to historic racial discrimination.

Of course I don't know what it's like to be as rich and powerful as Rush Limbaugh. And it may be that when you've attained such heights, you might lose your awareness -- if you ever had it to begin with -- of what it's like to be without money and power. Then the people who do know what it's like, either by experience or observation, might look to you like miserable malcontents.

To give him some credit, I imagine he has noticed that there are more malcontents than there used to be. He may also understand that a healthy chunk of those malcontents in the half-a-country have been peeled away from the large Republican majority that was in effect when he was battling discrimination as a radio celebrity back in the Reagan era.

In politics as in market share, the game is to win such people back. If you're confident, you restate your case more boldly. If you're less confident, you complain -- that people don't understand you, that your enemies lie about you, that you, too, are a victim. It's actually your opponents who are the bigots, while you are "America's Real Civil Rights Leader." In advertising they call it repositioning, and Sears did have some success proclaiming its Softer Side. But it tends to work best when you can justify it with your product line. And it never helps to be so defensive.

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