If ever there was a man who embodied the worst in capitalism, it's Rush Limbaugh. In fact, giving the 1% a bad name seems to have been his raison d'etre.
In case the reader was living in total seclusion these last four days, this is what Limbaugh said:
"I gotta be very careful. I have been numerous times to the Vatican. It wouldn't exist without tons of money. But regardless, what this is, somebody has either written this for him or gotten to him. This is just pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the pope. Unfettered capitalism? That doesn't exist anywhere. Unfettered capitalism is a liberal socialist phrase to describe the United States. Unfettered, unregulated."
Rush forgets that it was "unfettered" capitalism that George Bush pushed when he deregulated (unfettered) just about everything in existence.
"The Catholic Church, the American Catholic Church has an annual budget of $170 billion. I think that's more than General Electric earns every year. And the Catholic Church of America is the largest landholder in Manhattan. I mean, they have a lot of money. They raise a lot of money. They wouldn't be able to reach out the way they do without a lot of money."
Yes, the church does have an awful lot of money, Rush. But Francis is predisposed to redistributing some of that wealth, something you seem to chafe at, because true capitalists are never disposed to distribute: "trickle down" has not proven to distribute much of anything. Francis knew that - it was THE point of Evangelii Gaudium.
What Limbaugh Said vs What Others Think
While others have taken to criticizing the pope for his first missive (Stuart Varney, for example*), it is the image that Rush Limbaugh projects that is perhaps the most glaringly offensive to liberal sensibilities: he's arrogant, gaudy, obnoxious, bigoted ... and loud. He is the epitome of Lederer and Burdick's "The Ug;ly American" and flaunts his money/success with such impunity that people wince. For example, upon the sale of his Manhattan penthouse:
"He is known for his obnoxious statements and
attitudes and he is also known for his
utterly grossly decorated mansion in
New York, which was recently listed for sale.
The house has finally been sold with all its buffoonery that was touted as decorations."
Maybe Rush is simply following in the footsteps of other great capitalists and social climbers. After all, tradition can woo a newcomer to the public stage, giving him a sense of purpose, of pride in his fore bearers. Unfortunately, great flaunting of wealth hasn't produced the best results. For example:
There was Nicolas Fouquet who outdid his king in extravagance: Nicolas was Louis XIV's minister of finance and a conniving capitalist through and through. When he built his house, Vaux le Vicomte, he leveled 6 villages and employed Mansart to design it and LeBrun to fill it with incredible interiors. He then invited the young king over and feted him royally. Big mistake. Louis realized that Nicolas lived better than he did - and with treasury money! Fouquet was given the sack and another place to live: prison. Louis confiscated the estate, then used Mansart and LeBrun to build Versailles.
All For Society
Anderson Cooper's great grandmother, Alva Vanderbilt knew that capitalist New York Society in the Gilded Age could be impressed by ostentatious wealth, and although she never really got the nod from New York Society's queen, Mrs. Caroline Aster, she wowed her way to the top with houses in New York and Newport, RI to make Louis XIV jealous all over again. She even forced her daughter Consuelo to marry Britain's Duke of Marlborough (hence becoming an aunt to none other than Winston Churchill) in order to secure her place in the era's best known climbers.
Unfortunately for Rush, she wouldn't be a good example of a successful capitalist either: she renounced her social status to become (horrors!) - a suffragette.
Furthermore, Limbaugh's picture of a wealthy and at times profligate Church smacks of the pot calling the kettle black.
Does Francis Care?
Pope Francis I is not a fool. He is also not a naive Essene thrust into 21st century realities. He knows that the feathers of rich peacocks like Rush Limbaugh have been ruffled to the point of being plucked alive. But his focus is on the world's present economic inequality as it effects the other 99%. He knows that the world can't survive such inequality.
It certainly can't survive on a culture of "ugly Americans" alone.
* "I go to church to save my soul. It's got nothing to do with my vote. Pope Francis has linked the two. He has offered direct criticism of a specific political system. He has characterized negatively that system. I think he wants to influence my politics."
So Stuart Varney hasn't gone to church lately, or he ironically goes to a church that believes in the separation of church and state. Can Stuart Varney be a lapsed Southern Baptist?