Update 11/18/2003: I have added another quote and made my arguments clearer.
Rush Limbaugh came back today. Here were some of his public comments.
You can boil it down to one real simple essence: I can't be responsible for anybody's happiness but my own, and if I allow somebody else the power to determine my happiness, then...well...that's something I don't want to do. I can't do any longer. I put myself first. Doesn't mean be rudely selfish. It just means I can't depend on other people to make me happy. I have to do that myself. I'm the only one who has control over that. And I have to admit that I am powerless over this addiction that I have. I used to think I could beat it with force of will. I used to think that I would be different, but I'm not.
There's also part of me that wonders if I need to apologize. There are people I need to apologize to. When it comes to apologizing to you, those of you in this audience, I think of my statement on Friday before I left that I'm not a victim here and I'm not a role model. What I did I did knowingly. What I did, I did because I wanted to do it, but I knew it was wrong the whole time. It's a powerful addiction this stuff has over me, and it's something that I'm, as I say, am going to be dealing with on a daily basis, and I'm excited to be doing it as well. But the thing that I want you all to know is that the effort that I put forth during that period of time was not affected.
Later in the program Rush dealt with the touchy issue of hypocrisy.
"I was a drug addict from about 1996, 1995 or whatever, to just five weeks ago," Limbaugh said Monday. "The truth of the matter is I avoided the subject of drugs on this program for the precise reason that I was keeping a secret."
"Just because I may have been doing something that appeared to be contradictory to what I was suggested others do doesn't mean that what I was suggesting others do was wrong," Limbaugh said. "Critics want to harp on all this hypocrisy, there is no hypocrisy in this."
I am sorry, Rush, but that doesn't acquit you of hypocrisy. Let me slow down the argument and show why. Merely because the moral position you are arguing for is right does not acquit you of hypocrisy — here defined of suggesting one standard for others and another for yourself. In fact, such a hypocrisy is very insidious. That is because the moral position that you are arguing for gets tainted. This is no different from a pastor rightly arguing against adultery and then committing it. This causes people to stay away from the faith. Rush cannot have it both ways now. Now he is saying he is not a role model while all during the period of 1995 on he was repeatedly telling us that he was "a role model for the yutes (youth) of America". Merely being quiet about drugs during that period is not good enough.
Jesus interacted with both libertines — those who argue for a lower standard to justify their behavior — and hypocrites — those who affirm the proper standard but deny they violate it. At first blush it would seem that it would be the libertines that Jesus would have been most concerned with. But, it was the hypocrites with which he had the greater criticism. Why? Because while both tear down the fabric of God's Law, hypocrisy gets in the way of the forgiveness of others and forgiveness from God. When we fail we can possibly connect with the frailty of others and also reach out to Jesus to save us from our desparate condition. Hypocrisy short circuits all of that.
Hopefully, this experience will cause Rush to have compassion and forgiveness for those who are weak. So far, all I see is what the former Rush would have labelled psychobabble. Rush tells us only he can make himself happy. This insulates him from appropriate criticism. The irony of all this is that when we do admit to our hypocrisy and failures then we can truly achieve happiness. Unlike the private sin he admits to, hypocrisy is a public sin. As such, Rush should apologize for it specifically to his listeners. This means that he must take a risk that those who don't have his best interests at heart will take advantage of it. Rush doesn't need to be a linguine-spined liberal but a compassionate conservative would sure be nice.