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'Niceguy' Eddie

Political Talk Show Host and Internet Radio Personality. My show, In My Humble Opinion, (original, huh?) airs on Tuesdays at 10:PM and Saturdays at 8:PM, Eastern time on RainbowRadio.

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

On Biographies...

I'd like to pose an open question: Why does one write a biography about another person?

It seems to me that a good biograophy, regardless of the subject and independant of any other property, should endevour to present a full, well rounded view of the person.  It should talk about their great triumphs but also honestly explore their trials and tribulations.  If it lionizes (or vilifies) the subject, it should do so while at the same time HUMANIZING them.  To do that, you have to explore their motivations, their conflicts, their strengths and thier flaws openely and honestly without regard for or fear of what you might uncover.  It is not an easy task, but it is the only way to produce any kind of meaningful work.

Becuase no one should feel so strongly about a person that their biography reads like 400 pages of fauning and ass-kissing, (or a vilification of all of their critics.)  For example - my post a week or so ago about Harry Chapin.  Now THAT was pretty fauning.  Could I write a more extensive work, and actually take a more critical look at my hero?  Yes.  I could explore his flaws.  I could explore his failures.  And in exploring those I would only paint a more complete and human picture of this person that I find so amazing. For example: He worked himself to DEATH, leaving basically no money set aside for any kind of long-term support for his charities.  He was DRIVEN, but he was RECKLESS in his planning. See? It's not that hard.   Another example: Jim Rice is my favorite baseball-player.  If I were to write a biography of him, it would include not only the amazing highlights, but also the flaws - how later in career he jealously guarded his position on the team, alienated the younger players, and not beign a team player.  Does the fact that he's HUMAN diminish him in my mind? Not a bit.  Even if I were writing a bio on HITLER... Does it serve any purpose to just wrtie another 400 pages talking about how evil and crazy he was?  Not really - we already KNOW that! For any work about Hitler to be meaningful at this point, it would have to endevour to humanize him somehow - to look at what was going on at a very personal level.  I'm not saying it would have to be an apologist work or a revisionist one; only that 400 pages of "Look how bad this guy was" wouldn't CONTRIBUTE anything to the conversation that's not already there.  It would have no raison d'ĂȘtre; no reason to exsist.

Now... An AUTO-Biography, that's different.  You might expect an auto-biography to be a bit more self-serving.  It would still be crap, but it would hardly be surprising.  Likewise, publishing one's memoires, even  if done by someone else, you wouldn't be surprised to find that to be a one-sided presentation.  But a BIOGRAPHY should not read as a 400-page advirtisment for a person.  Hopefully at this point you understand and on some level agree with what I'm saying.

Because that's why I feel that Zev Chafet's biography of Rush Limbaugh, One Man Army is beyond crap: it has no reason to exsist.  It's nothing by a 400 page advirtisment for [Limabugh.]  Now, before anyone starts to think that I'd feel this way about ANY work that didn't outright vilify Limbaugh, please go back and consider what I've said above.  There is little doubt that Rush Limbaugh has accomplished astounding things.  That he is a phenonmenon.  That, for better or worse, he is a powerful voice for conservatism.  If you want to give some sense of the man from a positive standpoint, it would be pretty easy from the POV of simply looking at what he's accomplished.  It becomes utter crap however when you start getting into to the well-known controversies and not only present only his side of thigns -his VERSION of things, more accurately - but do so as strongly or even more strongly than the man himself would!  MMFA has a pretty extrensive list of falsehoods in the book itselfHere's another long list of falsehood from Limbaugh himself.  And niether is anywhere near an exhaustive list as MMFA seems to document half a dozen new items every DAY.  Now... it's one thing to agree with someone politically.  It's one thing to paint and overall positive picture of them in a biography.  But to go SO FAR to spin so much blatant controversy in their favor and just outright disappear so many distortions and falsehood on their behalf... That goes beyond a Biography.  That's just propaganda.

I think it's pretty clear that neither Rush, nor the Republican Party, nor the Conservtaive movement in general has any interest in taking a critical look at the Right's defacto leader. They have no interest in humanizing him, or doing anything short of lionizing him.  This is an indication of not only extreme intellectual dishonestly and cowardice on their part, but I think it's also evidence of just what a despicable peson he is, and what despicable people so many of them are.  To take a critical look at HIM, would mean taking a critical look at THEMSELVES.  And they have never shown themselves ot have the stomach for that.


  1. Back in the 1990s, I actually wrote a book about Limbaugh myself. It wasn't a biography; it was a critical deconstruction. A massive project, it began when Limbaugh was first rising to national prominence and continued to some point in the mid-'90s. Unfortunately, it was never finished; even more unfortunately, it was then mostly lost. I still have bits and pieces of it, mostly rough drafts of chapters and portions of chapters. Not long ago, I pulled out some of it, dusted it off, and posted it at my archive site:

    Limbaugh has gotten MUCH worse in the intervening years.

  2. To continue...

    "But to go SO FAR to spin so much blatant controversy in their favor and just outright disappear so many distortions and falsehood on their behalf... That goes beyond a Biography. That's just propaganda."

    It's pretty much standard operating procedure in the conservative book world. Being a conservative author is the easiest thing in the world, today. The right has turned publishing into a well-oiled profit machine.

    Most of the prominent righties are entirely incapable of writing a book, and, in fact, don't even try, assigning the task to ghost-writers. Appropriate, because most people who read them couldn't read a real book, either. The vacuous monologues ground out by the ghost-writers, carefully shorn of any potentially thought-provoking passages and of words of more than two or three syllables, are the best they can manage. Just about all the conservatives have to do to have a "beststeller" is publish something with words on an appropriate number of pages. The hundreds of conservative outlets that riddle the nation like a cancer then swing into action, doing enormous mass purchases of the book, which are then either resold at a greatly reduced rate or given away in exchange for donations to the org that purchased them. Instant "bestseller," one that no one reads.

    Limbaugh is a lie-machine. That isn't a part of what he is; that's all he is. Take away that, and he's nobody from nowhere, of whom no one would have ever heard. Limbaugh is a lie-machine in the service of certain interests. Chafet isn't just spinning and smoothing over controversies; he is, in fact, entirely missing the most fundamental element, the beating heart, the core of his chosen subject. Books like his do have a reason for existing, but that reason extends no further than a quick buck.