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Rush Limbaugh: Future 'Think Different' Poster Boy?

Rush Limbaugh: Future 'Think Different' Poster Boy?

by , 10:00 AM EST, January 15th, 2002

I'm sure that Steve Jobs would prefer that I not let it be known that I use his computers.

Rush Limbaugh, during a Dec. 2001 radio broadcast

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According to Republican shill Rush Limbaugh, he earned Steve Jobs' ire last month: he publicly let it be known that he uses and swears by Apple products.

"I'm sure that Jobs isn't too thrilled when he is approached at cocktail parties," Limbaugh mugs, "and hears my name mentioned in the same breath as his company and products."

These comments were uttered on air a few weeks ago, during which Limbaugh opined about Jobs' reported argument that a ruling demanding Microsoft donate Windows PCs to American schools was a laughable "penalty" that would only strengthen the monopoly that the Department of Justice was supposed to rectify -- not to mention erode Apple's bread-and-butter command of the education market. During this monologue, Limbaugh mentioned his Apple Cinema Display and Power Mac G4.

It wasn't the first time. Limbaugh is a well-known Apple fan and die-hard Mac user. Ditto for George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, probably not at the same level of Limbaugh's exuberance. But, guess which of the three aforementioned American politicos has the greatest chance of receiving Steve's heartfelt gratitude for supporting the Apple brand? Did you guess Clinton? As Ed McMahon would say, "You are correct, sir!"

It's no secret that Apple's iCEO leans toward the Left of the ideological spectrum -- not that there is anything wrong with that, but I have a problem with it, nevertheless.

Sure, Apple is Steve's company, and he can and will do whatever he wants. But there are millions of people out there who tune into Limbaugh, and advertising on that broadcast is virtually money in the bank, in terms of the return on investing in radio ads on that show. I hate the fact that Apple is known as a liberal company.

I should preface all this with the fact that I don't subscribe to either of the major political parties (I consider myself a classical liberal: I assign the highest value to free speech and personal liberty, above any political agenda or party shibboleth). I hate taxes, welfare and affirmative action, yet I believe that women and minorities still get screwed in general. I support gay rights, yet don't believe that the federal government should extend them special privileges, maybe even marriage rights. In other words, I hold views that can be labeled both liberal and conservative. Don't get me wrong. I'm not a "moderate," either. I believe self-described political moderates are spineless jellyfish who stand for nothing and spend inordinate amounts of time trying "to just get along."

I've often felt that Apple only caters to the liberals, even though many non-liberals "Think Different" just as much as the average Mac user, maybe even more. Many of my conservative-leaning friends resonate with what Apple preaches more than the "progressives" ever will, yet they are continually dismayed to see and hear the erroneous belief that they aren't a "typical" Mac user.

In the past, I have argued that Apple should market itself to the minorities among us -- the blacks, hispanics, etc. -- arguing that Apple is hypocritical in its marketing, claiming to think different, yet caters to the same country club set that the rest of Corporate America is accused of catering to. Today, I extend that argument to the realm of political demograpics, which is something that I've done before; Limbaugh's comments merely begged that this observation be repeated. The stereotypical Mac user is seen as the artist with the black finger nail polish, green hair and tree-hugger mentality, but not the exec with the double-breasted suit, golf clubs and preference for shrinking the federal government.

I know this all is a minor point, but it deserves attention. Is a liberal mindset synonymous with the Macintosh spirit? I think not. Is ignoring Mac users like Rush Limbaugh -- both actual and potential -- a form of cutting the nose to spite the face? I believe so.

I'm all for growing the Mac user base. But I think it will take reaching out, reaching beyond the pool of prospectives that we are used to. It will be more than the education market and the creative markets. Apple knows this. I'm glad that Apple is morphing into a consumer-technology company, a company for us mere mortals, us average consumers -- you know, "the rest of us."

I just hope that the word "average consumer" has a broader definition than what I fear that it does when included in the Apple marketing lexicon.


Rodney O. Lain is is a "flaming" lesbian. When he's not ogling Ellen Degeneres, Rodney writes his iBrotha column for The Mac Observer, as well as the occasional editorial. Rodney lives in Minnesota, where he is an IT supervisor for The Man at a Fortune 50 company.

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