Rush Limbaugh dominates Republicans

David Horsey/Los Angeles Times

George Will, one of the last lions of the right wing whose conservatism is a philosophy rather than a pathology, has heaped scorn on Republican leaders for their cowardly obeisance to Rush Limbaugh.

Sunday morning on ABC’s "This Week," Will said straight out that "Republican leaders are afraid of Rush Limbaugh." Last week, Limbaugh infamously characterized Sandra Fluke, a 30-year-old Georgetown University law student, as a "slut" and a "prostitute" who should provide the world with videos of herself having sex because she supports birth control coverage in employee insurance plans. Will said the tepid disapproval of Limbaugh’s words expressed by GOP presidential candidates and congressional leaders demonstrates just how much they are scared of the king of hot-talk radio.

"[House Speaker John] Boehner comes out and says Rush’s language was inappropriate," Will said. "Using the salad fork for your entree, that’s inappropriate. Not this stuff."

Commenting on Limbaugh’s tirade, Mitt Romney timidly observed that "slut" and "prostitute" were not necessarily the words he would have chosen, as if Limbaugh were simply in need of a thesaurus.

Rick Santorum called Limbaugh's comments "absurd," but seemed to give Rush a pass since he is an entertainer whose job it is to be absurd.

Newt Gingrich simply took the Limbaugh flap as one more opportunity to denounce the "liberal media."

To their credit, Ron Paul and John McCain risked the wrath of Limbaugh’s dittohead legion by condemning his comments. But too many other Republicans were unwilling to speak out against the man who has set himself up as the arbiter of who is and who is not sufficiently conservative to be a credible member of the Republican Party.

As Will noted, the would-be leaders of the GOP and of the free world talk boldly about bombing Iran, but they cower in the broad shadow of the "Great Gasbag."