So Rush Limbaugh is now in the Hall of Famous Missourians, right alongside Harry S Truman, Walt Disney, Mark Twain and General Jack Pershing, but there was something different about this induction.
General Pershing didn’t make it into the hall until 1995, 47 years after he died and 75 years after he whipped together a two-million-man army and brought World War I to an end within seven months of taking over as the commander of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) after four years of one of the bloodiest wars in history.
President Truman wasn’t inducted until 1991, nineteen years after he passed away, and 40 years after he left the presidency, 70 years after he was a lead-from-the-front Captain in Pershing’s victorious army, 55 years after he assured the next world war was won by reining in fraud and shoddy equipment by defense contractors with his Truman Committee and 46 years after he signed the treaty that brought that war to an end aboard the USS Missouri.
Walt Disney wasn’t inducted until a quarter century after he passed, presumably when the generation he had delighted – and scared spitless in brief moments – were occupying seats in the General Assembly and saw fit to honor the icon from their childhood.
And Mark Twain had been dead for over 70 years when his bust was placed in the hall, over a hundred years after he first achieved a measure of fame and notoriety. Thomas Hart Benton was immortalized by the mural he painted in the capitol decades before his bust was installed in 1985.
Living inductees are not unheard of, Speaker Tilley didn’t break precedent there. John Ashcroft is there, and he’s still alive – but he was also Governor, Senator and Attorney General. Bob Barker is there, but he was inducted after he retired from public life and after years of doing all manner of things to make the world a better place, including putting up millions of dollars of his own money to fund a vessel to save whales.
Like Bob Barker, Walter Cronkite was inducted while still living, but after he retired from a long and illustrious career as America’s most trusted newsman.
The big difference with Limbaugh and other living inductees, however, is that they were inducted in public ceremonies to great fanfare. They greeted the public that feted them. They were humble and decent and they made everyone in the state, regardless of how they lean politically, proud to be from the same place that produced such remarkable people who went out into the world and made their mark and never forgot where they came from and the values we learned growing up here.
Limbaugh’s induction, however, was quite different. There was no fanfare, there was no public announcement. It was done in secret, behind locked doors, with invited guests only present for the unveiling. There would have been no press at the event if Limbaugh hadn’t been spotted by some of the members of the press who have a daily presence in the capitol.
The way it was done is at least as scandalous as the fact it was done. Perhaps Steve Tilley isn’t the sociopath we’ve come to take him for since he became Speaker and the rest of the Animal House rejects took over the House and started embarrassing the state on a semi-daily basis, whereas with the previous GOP majority, the one I call the Emery–Davis Era, the humiliation was spaced out a bit more. It used to just be bi-weekly.
The current majority in the Missouri General Assembly is the political equivalent of an alternative middle school for boys with severe behavior disorders. They are obsessed with lady parts and scared to death of being called “gay” – just like 12-year-old boys. They are obnoxious, obstreperous, in-your-face, mean-spirited, hateful, willfully ignorant, intolerant, psychologically foreclosed and, in general, just plain stupid. What is really frightening is to think that these chuckleheads are a reflection of the people they represent. My roots in rural Missouri go back eight generations, and while there is always a contrarian or two in every community, they were isolated cases, not the majority, and the rest of the folks there didn’t send them to the General Assembly — Not even in the Ozarks where they invented and hold the copyright on “contrarian.”
I’ve thought about this overnight, and as infuriating as it is, it’s far more pathetic. So instead of asking Governor Nixon to pull the bust, I have a different idea. Add to it. Engrave his remarks at the induction — where he attacked about half of the state by calling us “deranged” (to the approving laughter and applause from the hand-picked crowd that could be counted on the play along). And engrave some of his greatest hits along with it. Add the backstory of his inclusion, making sure Steve Tilley’s name is cast in bronze as part of the display. Make the GOP — especially Steve Tilley — own it. Let it stand as a monument to extremism and division and the hatred-as-a-virtue ethos that the current GOP majority in the Missouri General Assembly has come to embody.
Be so thorough that he is considered the first inductee into the Hall of Infamous Missourians. Just make sure to leave room to add to it, because he’ll out-Rush himself soon enough and embarrass all the sane people left in the state, and we’ll want to document that for all time, too.
Meanwhile, I have an idea for all the ladies out there who might want to protest this offense somehow, but not go to jail for vandalism: Save your empty blister-packs of birth control, and leave them on the pedestal that holds his bust. Make a pilgrimage to the capitol to make an anti-offering to the impotent demi-god of misogyny and impotent rage, and take a picture and put it on Facebook.
We can make our point without going to jail for defacing state property.