P O S T E D B Y S A L L Y
The October 20th New York Times brought us this item*:
After Rush Limbaugh referred to Iraq war veterans critical of the war as “phony soldiers,” the CEO of Clear Channel Communications, the parent company of Mr. Limbaugh's syndicator, Premiere Radio Networks, received a letter of complaint signed by 41 Democratic senators. Mr. Limbaugh decided to auction the letter, which he described as “this glittering jewel of colossal ignorance,” for charity, and he pledged to match the price, dollar for dollar.
On Thursday night, Mr. Limbaugh, the conservative radio talk show host, said he thought the letter would bring in as much as $1 million. He was wrong.
When the eBay auction closed yesterday afternoon, the winning bid was $2.1 million. It is the largest amount ever paid for an item sold on eBay to benefit a charity.
The money will go to the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation Inc., a nonprofit organization in New Jersey that provides scholarships and other assistance to families of marines and federal law enforcement officials who die or are wounded in the line of duty. Mr. Limbaugh is a director of the organization, which had total revenues of $5.2 million last year.
Having made his own fortune by underestimating the intelligence of the American public, it was only a matter of time before Mr. Limbaugh would explore new markets. People will pay top dollar, apparently, for the artifacts of boneheaded self-righteousness.
Mr. Limbaugh’s action suggests a new frontier for fundraisers. Can the indicted members of nonprofit and foundation boards make it up to their disgraced organizations by auctioning off their arrest warrants, for example, or their prison dungarees? Suppose the housekeeper who dusts Alberto Gonzalez’s empty office (Mary, are you reading this?) were to donate to the ACLU the series of memos establishing the United States as a nation that tortures. How much would these fetch on eBay?
Some of you will recall that several years ago, Mr. Limbaugh’s housekeeper, Wilma Cline, approached Florida authorities to reveal that she had acted as his drug buyer for years, illegally purchasing more than 30,000 painkillers. Perhaps Mr. Limbaugh would consider auctioning off the court briefs that helped him avoid prosecution, or the master recording of the radio show in which he called defenders of medical marijuana “potheads.”
My advice to fundraisers: Hop on this gravy train as quickly as possible. The bottom will fall out of the market once consumers realize the tokens of human folly and vice are in liberal supply.
* “Critical Letter to Limbaugh Fetches $2 Million,” by Stephanie Strom.