Friday, March 06, 2009

Drug war

I have no problem with people bashing Rush Limbaugh, or any prominent blowhard of whatever political persuasion. But I'm disturbed by one tactic in the current anti-Limbaugh snarkfest: Attacking him for his addiction to pain medication. "Drug-addled," sniffs Demo politico Paul Begala. "A self-described prescription-drug addict who sees America from a private jet," tut-tuts New York Times opiner Timothy Egan. The jabs refer to the episode that began in 2003, when Limbaugh admitted an addiction to painkillers and went to treatment.

First of all, Begala's claim doesn't make sense. Limbaugh apparently was successfully treated for his addiction, so barring evidence of a relapse, he's not drug-addled. Indeed, the fact that he lives in sober clarity ought to be disquieting enough. His ravings would be less disturbing, not more, if they were simply the product of a drug-addled mind.

More importantly, no one volunteers to be an addict, and it's not fair to attack Limbaugh for his addiction. In fact, it sets a disturbing precedent, because Limbaugh did what you're supposed to do. He admitted he had a problem and got help, and he did so before his addiction got someone killed. But now his addiction -- and recovery, because we very likely wouldn't know about his addiction unless he had sought treatment -- is just so much political ammunition.

The message to struggling addicts is chilling: If you admit your problem and seek help, you'll regret it.