If the three-year investigation of Rush Limbaugh's pain-pill addiction has accomplished nothing else, at least it has prompted leftists to consider the possibility that drugs are bad.
Readers old enough to remember the 1980s will recall how leftists mocked Nancy Reagan for urging kids to "Just Say No" to drugs. Yet when Limbaugh failed to heed Mrs. Reagan's advice -- the radio host says a back injury led him into addiction -- the Left was less than tolerant. Indeed, some left-wingers were downright mean-spirited in denouncing Limbaugh.
What seems to anger the Left, other than Limbaugh's fame as the most successful radio star since Jack Benny, is that Rush has been a long-term opponent of illegal drugs. This, his critics say, makes Limbaugh a hypocrite.
Hypocrisy might seem a fair accusation if, as Florida prosecutors say, Limbaugh violated the law by illegally obtaining prescription drugs. There is, however, a world of difference between, on the one hand, someone whose physical suffering leads them to become addicted to pain-killers and, on the other hand, someone who uses marijuana, heroin, cocaine or meth as a recreational thrill. It wasn't like Rush was popping Oxycontin, turning on the blacklight, and tripping out to Pink Floyd.
Still, prosecutors say, Limbaugh broke the law and is thus deserving of criminal sanction. Florida authorities, however, are very lenient in dealing with drug addicts, and officials say Limbaugh's plea deal -- which will spare him jail time if he continues treatment for his addiction -- is not unusual.
Yet this has not satisfied the Left. These are the same leftists who for decades have told us that illegal drug use is a "victimless crime," despite the numerous crimes committed by dope addicts, or the general social harm caused by those under the influence of intoxicants, legal or otherwise. (Some partisans may wish to compare Limbaugh's fate to that of Sen. Edward Kennedy who in 1969, after using copious amounts of a legal drug -- alcohol -- left a young woman to die at Chappaquiddick.)
Meanwhile, let us imagine that Limbaugh was not famous at all. Suppose, for instance, that he were just another Florida drug addict named... well, let's use "Smith." Suppose that Smith's addiction led him to a life of crime and that, over the course of about a decade, he amassed a record of a dozen or so criminal charges. Further suppose that Smith were accused of four violent attacks on women, including two attempted abductions.
During his long criminal career, Smith is repeatedly arrested on drug charges including forging prescriptions and possession of heroin and cocaine. Despite these repeated arrests, Smith never serves more than a few months in prison. Finally, however, while on probation, Smith tests positive for cocaine use. He is released again, but then falls behind on his court-ordered payments.
What do you suppose would happen in such a case?
We don't have to imagine, because neither Smith nor his criminal career are hypothetical. On Dec. 30, 2003, Florida circuit judge Harry Rapkin turned loose the violent drug addict and career criminal, Joseph Smith. Thirty-three days later, in Sarasota, Fla., Smith kidnapped, raped and murdered 11-year-old Carlie Brucia.
The leftists who now demand maximum punishment of Rush Limbaugh for his "victimless crime" may be upset to learn that Harry Rapkin was appointed to the bench by a Democrat — former Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles — a few months after Rapkin donated $500 to the re-election campaign of another Democrat, Sen. Bob Graham.
These same leftists will, however, denounce Rush Limbaugh if he accuses Democrats of being "soft on crime."
Perhaps Rush Limbaugh's experience with drug addiction will make him more sympathetic to others suffering similar problems. But, given the enormous law-enforcement resources which an elected Democratic prosecutor has devoted to investigating Limbaugh, we suspect Rush will be even less sympathetic the next time some Democratic official accused of wrongdoing cries, "Partisan witch hunt."
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