[Saturday] - in the wake of losing several sponsors — Rush Limbaugh apologized for calling law student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute.” Fluke had the audacity to argue in front of Congress that her employer’s health care coverage should cover her birth control. Since Limbaugh made his apology, notable Republicans have stepped forward to agree that Limbaugh’s comments were out of line, and that the conservative talk show host does not speak for the Republican party as a whole.
The past few days have witnessed a coarsening of the public discourse in a new and very disturbing way. As loathe as I am (and trust me, I am) to give Rush Limbaugh any more attention, this is less about him than the existence of a Right-wing culture in which anything, no matter how offensive, vile, or insulting goes. Agenda trumps EVERYTHING- even decency, respect, and dignity. If people react negatively, no worries…just apologize and act moderately contrite for s moment or two. The inattentive will think you sincere, all while the tone and tenor of debate continues on its downward trend. Meanwhile, the public dialogue becomes so much about the actor (Limbaugh, in this instance), that their venue- whether it be a radio show, TV show, and/or a website, is in the forefront of the public consciousness. And nothing generates ratings (and increases advertising revenue) like raging controversy.
Yes, Rush Limbaugh is a vile, misogynistic pig, and a miserable excuse for a human being; of that there can be no doubt. What’s happening, though, is that all of us are losing sight of the fact that this is what people like Limbaugh do. They cause offense. They insult those unable to defend themselves. They questions the motives, morality, patriotism, and humanity of their targets. In so doing, they managed to focus the brilliant white light of public attention on themselves.
Of course, all of the GOP Presidential candidates are expected to weigh in on this controversy, and they’ve more or less uniformly issued bland, meaningless, pro forma tongue lashings to Limbaugh. They understand that the prevailing public outrage requires that they must at least appear to disapprove of Limbaugh’s vile tirades. The reality, though, is that Limbaugh’s a GOP kingmaker, and all the candidates dearly want his support. Even worse, they’re all terrified of him, and they fear what might become of their prospects if they end up on the wrong side of one of El Rushbo’ vile tirades. If they had to show up on his radio show with a pair of knee pads and a tube of AstroGlide…well, let’s just say that Limbaugh would be doing a lot of grunting and have a satisfied smile on his face by the end of his show.
They want to bomb Iran, but they’re afraid of Limbaugh.
Take a good look, America…these are the moral midgets the GOP believes would be an improvement over the current President. Let’s face facts, shall we? The tepid Republican response to Limbaugh’s vile, misogynistic diatribes can and should be taken as indication that the Four Dwarves are condoning the worst sort of incivility imaginable. It wasn’t just that Limbaugh tossed off a few thoughtless, hurtful comments. No, Limbaugh’s, verbal vomit continued over the course of three days. He returned to the subject of Sandra Fluke’s sex life time and time again, and in the most grotesque, degrading manner possible.
Three days of vile immaturity, of calling Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute” is not something that warrants a tepid “those aren’t the words I would have chosen” (a la Mitt Romney). It’s not something that deserves but a not-even-a-verbal-slap-on-the-wrist from Newt Gingrich.
Gingrich tells CNN’s “State of the Union” that he’s glad the conservative commentator issued the apology on Saturday and that it’s time to move beyond the controversy.
That none of the Republicans candidates stood up and did the right thing by unequivocally denouncing Limbaugh should tell us everything we need to know about the degree of moral courage they would bring to the Oval Office- in a word, none. Their implicit condoning of Limbaugh’s outbursts renders them unworthy of the trust of the American Sheeple. If they won’t stand up for women, who by the way, compose half the electorate, they’ve demonstrated themselves completely unworthy of being the elected leader of ALL Americans.
Gingrich is the last of the remaining Republican presidential nominee contenders to offer his opinion on Limbaugh’s “slut” comments. It would probably be reaching to call the responses from Paul, Santorum, and Romney “apologies,” but they do speak to a need for the candidates to distance themselves from Limbaugh. Romney may have offered the best non-apology of all when he said the words were “not the language I would have used.” As we all know, there are countless synonyms for “slut.”
Personally, I don’t give a damn about Limbaugh, his opinions, or the horse he rode in on. I wouldn’t piss on the man if he somehow spontaneously combusted in my presence. Ultimately, this really isn’t about someone who’s arguably more pig than human; it’s about expecting that those in the public eye comport themselves with dignity. It’s about demanding that they at least act as if they respect their fellow human beings. And it’s about us reacting fiercely and with conviction when they prove themselves unable or unwilling to do so. (It’s even worse when they blame their vile hate speech on “the Left.”)
Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich have amply demonstrated themselves to lack the moral courage to stand up to Limbaugh, whose support they covet. If they can’t stand up to a bully and a pig like Limbaugh, how can we expect them to stand up to Iran or North Korea?
Is this sort of moral cowardice what you want in a President?
WE DESERVE BETTER.
UPDATE: So far, nine advertisers have dropped Limbaugh. The list of those companies still supporting Limbaugh is shrinking, but more pressure can and should be applied to those businesses who continue to condone such vile, disrespectful public speech. The Armed Forces Network still doesn’t seem to get the message; AFN is continuing to carry Limbaugh’s radio show.
Next comes the task of applying pressure to radio stations still carrying Limbaugh’s show. It’s not about squelching free speech; it about demanding decency and humanity in the exercise of that free speech. Rush Limbaugh has amply demonstrated himself incapable of meeting even that minimum expectation.