When Rush Limbaugh admitted that for the past four years he's been addicted to illegal pain killers and purchasing them off of the black market, he created something of a quandry for himself and his party.
Limbaugh, like most conservatives, has been an ardent advocate of strict drug laws. He's spoken out against medicinal use for marijuana, has lobbied for tougher sentences of drug users and their dealers and has endorsed the new anti-marijuana advertising campaign.
Limbaugh's hypocrisy is stinging. While he was working to lock up casual pot users, he was obtaining prescription pain killers illegally to feed his own addiction. While I don't necessarily see a drug addiction as being a sign of a person with bad morals, after all no one asks to be addicted, hypocrisy is definitely a sign, no matter how you shake it down.
But what's more stinging than Limbaugh's hypocrisy is that of his fellow conservatives. Suddenly, Limbaugh is a "sick" man who needs "help". Magically, no one wants to see him go to jail even though laws he called for could put him in prison for up to 15 years.
On the other hand, liberals who have supposedly tried to loosen drug laws and push drug users into therapy instead of prison are the ones, at least secretly, hoping that Limbaugh gets put away. Though few have spoken out openly, those that have have been more than blunt with their words.
While I grant Limbaugh's hypocrisy is enough to make anyone want to vomit and that him going to jail would be a classic case of poetic justice, it doesn't necessarily make it right.
What's going on is the age-old game of politics before principles, where the two sides switch the minute tide seems to favor the other way.
The lesson for the American public is that there are no liberals or conservatives in power, only politicians. Sure, they may talk like liberals or conservatives, but when the chips are down, they're self-serving pragmatists that will abandon the high road the minute it draws fire.
However, what we, or at least our politicians, need to be learning from this is the true dangers of drug addiction. My personal hope is that the Limbaugh case will put the issue of drug use and addiction in a new, more realistic light and that not only will Limbaugh get the help he needs, but others that follow him may get the same.
After all, in my experience, addiction is almost always punishment enough. Locking up Limbaugh or anyone else with an addiction only feeds the disease and costs taxpayers more money both in prison costs and law enforcement efforts.
However, to call that unlikely is a grand understatement. The minute the spotlight is off Limbaugh and his recent divulgement, you can guarantee both sides will be back to the same old rhetoric, nothing learned, nothing gained. Just like everything else in American politics.
But there is one good thing that can come out of this. When Rush gets back on the airwaves after his rehab, he won't be calling for tougher drug laws.
At least, not if he values his integrity and his freedom.