How baseball saved me from Rush Limbaugh

In Iowa, a faraway Giants-Cubs radio broadcast rescued me from Limbaugh's toxic obsession with Michelle Obama

By Joan Walsh

Published April 12, 2013 6:01PM (EDT)

I'm driving cross-country with my dog, Sadie.
I'm driving cross-country with my dog, Sadie.

Well, it was another day of my cross-country car journey with my dog, Sadie, with stops to throw the ball. Before I explain how baseball saved me from Rush Limbaugh, first a Sadie update:  She misses Boulder, but found nature in this little patch of land behind La Quinta:

She thought this drainage ditch was another creek and made a run for it (I put her back on the leash):

One stop came in lovely Newton, Iowa, the childhood home of Charles Murray – I won’t hold that against Newton -- as well as Maytag headquarters. We had Sunset Park to ourselves in a cold rain:

So, at one point I broke down and listened to Rush. You know, even the paranoid Sean Hannity sounds a little jauntier. Rush actually seems depressed. He was inveighing against Michelle Obama comparing herself to Hadiya Pendleton, the 15-year-old Chicago girl killed in gang violence in January. Obama’s speech was incredibly moving; NPR played long clips of it and she sounded as though she was fighting tears; listening to her, so was I.

Limbaugh, too, was moved by Obama’s speech – moved to rage that she had the audacity to compare herself to Hadiya, another Chicago girl with a bright future whose fate turned out to be gun violence, not Princeton, Harvard Law School and becoming first lady. Limbaugh likened Michelle’s Hadiya comparison with President Obama saying, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon,” after the unarmed black teen was shot by George Zimmerman last year. He was undone by these rhetorical flourishes by the president and his wife, and too worked up to explain exactly what was wrong about it. All I could surmise was that he was offended by the Obamas noting that they had something in common with young black victims of violence. Those race baiters!

I knew Limbaugh called Michelle Obama “Moo-chelle,” but since I’d only read it, not heard it, I thought the emphasis was on “moo,” making it a bovine insult. But actually he seems to pronounce it “Mooch-elle,” which is even dumber, since it mispronounces both syllables of her name, not just one. But it does get to the white-hot center of right-wing resentment: those people are moochers. Mooching off the taxpayers, living in public housing, the White House. Stunning in its racism and idiocy.

Baseball saved me from Limbaugh. Amazingly, my Giants are playing the Chicago Cubs, and the four-hour game took me almost all the way across Iowa. Then we raced up I-88, the Ronald Reagan Memorial Tollway (it would have to be a tollway, wouldn’t it) to Chicago. I’d have stopped in Dixon, Reagan’s birthplace, but it was getting dark and Sadie was sleeping. Driving with a dog is a little bit like driving with a baby: You drive when they sleep, and you don’t think of stopping for anything but an emergency. Seeing Reagan’s birthplace didn’t cut it for me.

Sadie and I made it to Chicago, and I’m headed to Wrigley Field with my old friend Jim shortly. We worked together at In These Times in the mid-1980s, and he says he hasn't been to a Cubs game since we used to drag him on hot afternoons way back then. That's friendship. It's not a hot afternoon; I’m still grateful for the down coat and gloves Mary procured for me in Boulder. More from Wrigley, later. (Oh, and I did get to meet a few of the Nebraskans fighting the Keystone XL pipeline, but they deserve their own post, so that will come next week).

Joan Walsh

Joan Walsh is the author of "What's the Matter With White People: Finding Our Way in the Next America."

MORE FROM Joan WalshFOLLOW joanwalshLIKE Joan Walsh

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Baseball Chicago Cubs Driving Miss Sadie Iowa Michelle Obama Nebraska Rush Limbaugh Sadie San Francisco Giants