More Hair Tonic

By Ta-Nehisi Coates

Via Andrew, here's Rush Limbaugh:


What have I told you about diet and exercise? Exercise is irrelevant.... "How do you know all this?" One of the reasons I know what I know is that I know liberals, and I know liberals lie, and if Michelle Obama's gonna be out there ripping into "food desserts" and saying, "This is why people are fat," I know it's not true. "Rush, do you really believe that? It's that simple to you, liberals lie?" Yes, it is, folks. Once you learn that, once you come to grips with that, once you accept that, the rest is easy. Very, very simple. Now, my doctor has never told me to restrict any intake of salt, but if he did, I wouldn't. I'd just spend more time in the steam or the sauna sweating it out.

On some level, this should not be taken literally. But I thought about this kind of thing a lot while reading that Walter Williams column. More than diet advice, this strikes me as a declaration of tribalism. It is a declaration of borders--"Whatever they are against, we're for." 

Again, I doubt that Limbaugh believes what he's saying. I also doubt that his listeners believe it--Michelle Obama no more invented the idea of cutting back on sweets, then Limbaugh invented demagoguery. It's simply about resentment. There are people out there, for whatever reason, who resent the Obamas. Some of them don't know why, and others can't articulate why. Limbaugh gives them a speakable reason. What he is offering isn't conservative rhetoric. It's just anti-liberal rhetoric. 

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2010/11/more-hair-tonic/66302/