Rush Limbaugh debacle sullies Missouri, Tilley
The Kansas City Star
The Missouri House chambers, meant to be a place of vigorous debate and many voices, this week became the locked province of radio host Rush Limbaugh and a few of his greatest admirers.
They were on the inside. By order of House Speaker Steve Tilley, the public was on the outside — literally locked out, with state troopers at the doors to reinforce the message.
Shame on Tilley. His selection of the blustery and offensive Limbaugh for entry into the Hall of Famous Missourians was questionable. But locking the public out of the induction ceremony was unacceptable.
After eight years in state government, during which time he rose to the top of the Republican-controlled House leadership, Tilley doesn’t get it. He sees public service as a duty to pay homage to selected people and causes, while holding the masses at bay.
That mindset helps to explain why Tilley recently celebrated a move to weaken Missouri’s judicial selection process as one of the top legislative achievements of his tenure. It is not a change that means much to ordinary Missourians at this point, but it is very important to some wealthy donors.
Limbaugh became a famous Missourian by verbally getting in the faces of “libs,” Democrats, “feminazis,” environmental wackos” and others who don’t view the universe through Rush-colored lenses.
Yet Tilley chose to shield Limbaugh from those faces and others. As is mostly the case with his radio audience, Limbaugh preached to the choir, and didn’t pass up the opportunity to insult the critics of his induction. He called them “deranged.”
Limbaugh, who hails from Cape Girardeau, Mo., is unquestionably famous. And he is undeniably a Missourian. But the fact that Tilley felt compelled to sneak him into the chamber and lock the public out is a pretty good indication that he was a poor choice for the Hall of Famous Missourians.
As for Tilley, he’ll get his picture on the wall with the other House speakers. But he’ll be remembered not as a speaker who improved the lot of Missouri or its people, but as the one who locked the public out of the people’s house to curry favor with his own famous Missourian.