Last fall I was driving through Council Bluffs and saw one of those church marquee signs. It was a message I still can’t erase and one that had power last week.
“God loves the people you hate.”
I’m glad I had to stop at a traffic light moments after reading the message. I needed a moment to clear my head. The message hit me worse than if I was hit by the car I was driving.
Last week, conservative radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh hit the entire media industry with his announcement of having a developed stage of lung cancer. He noticed symptoms in January and had cancer confirmed by two different health-care providers. He told his multi-million listeners Monday, Feb. 3, to expect him to miss consecutive shows in the near future either because of his treatment plan or response to treatment.
I admit, I have occasionally listened to Rush. He is entertaining and I think you have to be to host a daily, three-hour show to keep and grow your audience. I have agreed with a few of his opinions.
I also think Rush is harder, cruel, mean, whatever word you want to use, than he has to be. I don’t like the below-the-belt comments he has used every so often on some people. You can constructively criticize a person, program or project without having to act like you’re in third grade on the school playground.
That’s one reason why people don’t like him.
Those proverbial sticks-and-stones may be why people continue to regularly listen to him. President Trump took a moment to honor Rush during his State of the Union speech last week.
I don’t like how Rush magically excludes himself from the “national media” when he nit-picks what national media outlets have done. Rush has a bajillion listeners just like the television networks have viewers. Rush is just as national as NBC and CNN. He’s doing the same thing they are just with different strategy and platform.
But what Rush told his audience last week takes everything off the table. What happened to Rush isn’t exclusive to him. Lung cancer is not new and has impacted families across the country for decades.
I wouldn’t be surprised if there are people who don’t agree with Rush have the same personal challenge of having to live with cancer. Now, they can relate to him.
It’s way too early to tell how much cancer will influence or change Limbaugh’s show. Rush knows it will change as he won’t be there as much as he has in the past. Rush has multiple people who can fill in for him.
But what will Rush’ diagnosis do for the rest of us? I wouldn’t be surprised if those who don’t like Rush continue to not like him and say he got what he deserved because of his attitude. (I refuse to look at social media sites on this). Cancer does not take prisoners. Cancer has no boundaries with age, gender, political or worldviews.
But, maybe, just maybe, it will touch enough people for them to realize and change their heart and ways. Maybe Rush will change, too. Maybe some of that bitterness will turn into sympathy and empathy.
For years I’ve been a strong supporter of Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucus status. Now, I’m not so sure. We’ve messed up two of the past three. This year’s caucus problems remind me of the newspaper business. It’s better to be right than first.