Rush Limbaugh’s lame apology to Sandra Fluke does not even come close to getting him off the hook. He needs to apologize to America for pushing political discourse to the level of drunk good ol’ boys shouting crude epithets in a topless bar.
In case you missed it, a few days ago Limbaugh went after Fluke for supporting the inclusion of contraceptives in employee health plans. The 30-year-old Georgetown University law student jumped into the controversy over a new Obama administration rule requiring even institutions run by religious organizations to provide insurance coverage for birth control. She asked to be added to an otherwise all-male panel testifying on the issue before a congressional committee. When she was turned away, the House Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, set up a non-official forum where Fluke was given time to speak.
Limbaugh, like anyone who disagrees with Fluke’s position, has every right to challenge her ideas, but he didn’t do that. Instead, he gleefully engaged in character assassination, calling the young woman a “prostitute” and a “slut” who expected the government to pay her to have sex.
“She’s having so much sex, she can’t afford the contraception,” Limbaugh told his vast audience of angry white males. “She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex.”
Following up this lie, Limbaugh went on to say women who want their birth control covered by insurance should clamp a couple of aspirin between their legs, instead. Then, he titillated his fans by suggesting that, if Fluke wants to get her pills paid for, she should videotape herself having sex. “We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch,” he said.
I’d like to state right here that I try to be mostly wry and analytical when I’m writing about the world of politics, so here’s my wry analysis: The childless, four-times-married Rush Limbaugh is a loathsome, misogynistic pig.
If this were some aberration in Limbaugh’s behavior, fair-minded people might be tempted to accept his grudging and very limited apology. But it is nothing new. This is how he has “entertained” day after day for years. He doesn’t debate. He doesn’t inform. He vilifies, insults, smears, slanders, distorts and misleads. Rush is a schoolyard bully who specializes in picking on girls – or “feminazis,” as he loves to call them.
Limbaugh has led the way in destroying civility in politics. It’s bad enough that his overbearing pseudo-patriotism has been emulated by other right-wing radio and TV commentators; worse is the fact he has become the oracle of the dominant wing of the Republican Party. Gone are the days when William F. Buckley spoke for conservatism in an eloquent, reasoned voice or when Ronald Reagan could share a drink and trade jokes with Democratic House Speaker Tip O’Neill. It is now cool for conservatives to talk trash and act like 14-year-old louts harassing the gay kid in class.
Rush Limbaugh puts the vile in juvenile. He puts the men in mendacity. He puts the repugnant in Republican. He is an arrogant thug. He is what’s wrong with American politics.