15th June 02:25
OT: Limbaugh & "Psychic Foreclosure" (free may them)
Published on Wednesday, November 12, 2003 by the Long Island, NY
Limbaugh's Fans Are Certain They're Right
by Paul Ginnetty
The coming return of Rush Limbaugh to the famed "golden microphone" of
his national bully pulpit invites us to ponder the reasons for the
remarkable success of his kind of radio programming. Liberals have
made numerous unsuccessful attempts to create an equally popular
propaganda vehicle for the other side of the ideological spectrum.
What they may lack is the element of simplicity.
Limbaugh's message is usually resoundingly and blessedly simple. (One
should not assume that simplicity and truth are synonymous here.) His
genius lies in reducing rather complex issues into deceptively
straightforward terms. For example, the challenge of crafting
environmental policies that balance legitimate economic considerations
with a responsible awareness of the finitude of natural resources is
dismissed as the neurotic hand wringing of tree hugging
Any examination of gender inequities is spurned as the fascist agenda
of "Feminazis." And so forth with every potentially thorny issue with
which his listeners might otherwise have to wrestle.
Such concreteness and black-and-white certitude is psychologically
appealing to a number of people. In an increasingly complicated world
that presents the richness but also the challenges of all kinds of
diversity, such a clear-cut gospel can seem like good news indeed.
Limbaugh's listeners are only too glad to circle their electronic
wagons, protected by unequivocal truths, insulated from pesky nuances
and grayish shades of meaning. They've got it totally right.
They live in the right country whose perpetually pure motives and
universally good intentions are obvious to everyone, except for a
handful of "limousine-liberal" whiners. They are even righter than
right if they happen to be the correct kind of American - Republican,
Caucasian and preferably male.
But their certitude consigns them to what psycho****yst Erik Erikson
called the state of psychic foreclosure. Foreclosed persons are easily
attracted to the beguilingly simple, one-size-fits-all belief systems
of powerful others that they adopt as their own so as to avoid the
sometimes lonely rigors of personal searching. The foreclosed are the
ready disciples of demagogues in every age.
Social psychologists also point to the normal, near-universal need for
"social comparison," the tendency to check out our impressions - say,
of a movie or, better yet, an ambiguous scene such as a bar fight or
car accident - by instinctively comparing notes with other observers.
Our hope is to confirm our own impressions and opinions in an effort
to make the world feel more stable, less random. It's reassuring to be
reading from the same page as others.
Limbaugh's brand of talk radio provides a pathologically intense
version of this wish to be singing from the same hymnal. Crucial to
this phenomenon is the absence of any real controversy during the
broadcast. There are constant sparks of apparent conflict that make
for engaging entertainment as he shadowboxes (with one hand tied
behind his back, of course) with select sound bites of Hillary Rodham
Clinton or Ted Kennedy.
Note that there are never any actual guests on the program; guests,
even conservative ones, risk obscuring simple truths with inconvenient
facts or alternative hypotheses.
There are seldom any real disagreements between the host and the
already converted choir to which he bombastically preaches. Their
collective nickname says it all - they are the well-scrubbed ranks of
"ditto-heads" - people who can be counted on to shout "amen," who have
little to add but a grateful and admiring "ditto."
Sadly, the tradeoff seems to be worth it for them. What they sacrifice
in terms of individuality and intellectual integrity is seemingly more
than offset by the potent narcotic of reassuring simplicity. Many of
them probably also derive a sense of inclusion and pseudo-intimacy via
this electronic fraternity of kindred spirits. Consider the somewhat
pathetic character, Marty, who checks in daily with his radio "buddy,"
Sean Hannity, a Limbaugh clone. There are plenty of other Martys out
there who regularly light up the call boards of right-wing talk jocks
- among them G. Gordon Liddy, Matt Drudge and Laura Ingraham - who
unabashedly mimic the Limbaugh formula of ideological simplicity.
What's more, callers may get a sense of derivative celebrity and
charisma from seeming to hang out - if only for a minute or two - with
a mega-rich and politically powerful figure like Limbaugh. They get a
chance to feel real smart when the master seems to agree with them,
failing to see that it is actually they who are agreeing with him.
Further, they are mindlessly agreeing with the powerful economic
interests he insidiously represents.
That's perhaps the most maddening, diabolically clever thing about his
show, the faux populism that persuasively claims to be looking out for
the little guy, all the while touting policies that tilt tax codes and
regulatory policies further in favor of him and his kind.
To cite but one example, the privileged need not fear any thoughtful
scrutiny of the conceivable wisdom of maintaining some kind of
inheritance tax as long as Limbaugh can keep referring to it as an
unnatural "death tax." With such an engaging apologist, the rich are
home free. As Limbaugh is wont to say, "Now listen, you people, it's
really quite simple."
Paul Ginnetty is a professor of psychology at St. Joseph's College in
15th June 07:53
OT: Limbaugh & "Psychic Foreclosure"
You can put an asshole in therapy, but you can't change his soul.
THE ONLY way this the guy could return to radio broadcasting even-keeled,
honorable and dispensing wisdom would be if he was personally thrown into
horendously violent combat conditions for (in his specific case) an
extended period-- let's say a tour of combat duty, half of which he barely
survived through luck.
THEN I'd listen for humility, honor, wisdom and intelligent decency from
This however, will prove to be a charade. He leads the ignorant and
uneducated angry tools at the bottom feeding end of the right wing's
agenda around by thier weak minds.
The electoral events leading up to and concluding with George Bush
returning to smirked upon anonymity in Crawford, TX will finalize
Limbaugh's run. Why? The pendulum is and has been swinging. Trust in that.
Faith in THAT.
15th June 07:53
OT: Limbaugh & "Psychic Foreclosure" (the opposition smile)
Roger Ramjet brayed:
Keep repeating your mantra. Padme hum, hmmmmm?
My god, won't you be embarrassed when Bush kicks
the ever-lovin' SHIT outta the opposition in '04.
And won't we smile. ;-)
20th June 03:35
Limbaugh & "Psychic Foreclosure"
Exposing that boorish blowhard for what he really is a great civil service.
You and Paul Ginnetty certainly deserve more than a medal of honor.
Thanks Jim, I hope you post more and more of the same.
I don't expect my toadies to understand.
All they have to do is buy my bullshit.