It’s sad, so sad
It’s a sad, sad situation
And it’s getting more and more absurd
It’s sad, so sad
Why can’t we talk it over
Oh it seems to me
That sorry seems to be the hardest word
After making a complete ass of himself in making personal attacks on a Georgetown Law School student named Sandra Fluke. She testified before Congress regarding the provision of women’s contraceptives by insurance companies, including those that cover employees of ancillary organizations belonging to religious institutions.
Limbaugh called Ms Fluke a “slut” and “prostitute” saying “What does it say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke [sic] who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex — what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex.”
Of course that was not the content of Ms. Fluke’s testimony which focused on married women working at the University who needed the medications for conditions not related to contraception, something that is not uncommon. Limbaugh instead decided to attack the character of Ms. Fluke. But this has become par for the course for Limbaugh who uses his show not just to confront his opponents but to humiliate and silence them. I listened to his show regularly from the late 1980s until I returned from Iraq. It was then I realized just how abusive his tactics are and in the summer of 2008 I stopped listening to his program.
I guess what bothers me is that though Limbaugh is arguably one of the most talented radio personalities who has ever lived and certainly the most influential on the American political scene that he has become a bully. Limbaugh’s talent, especially his ability to use satire used to be humorous when directed at those in power has become a bludgeon to silence those without power as he has become a figure that Republicans are afraid to confront because he is the most influential Republican in the country.
Limbaugh has made personal attacks before, mocking Michael J. Fox who suffers from Parkinson’s Disease in 2006 for advocating for funding of Stem Cell research; calling a Iraq combat Veteran and career soldier and other soldiers who criticized the war as “phony soldiers.” I was in Iraq at the time and happened to hear about those comments in between missions in Al Anbar Province. I found both episodes to be reprehensible.
With his rise in power has come a rise in vitriol and a hubris that comes from being so powerful and until this week unchallenged. Limbaugh has beaten up all comers and only on exceedingly rare occasions has issued “apologies” for his remarks.
What brought about this apology was not the criticism from Republican political candidates or elected officials. There was little to speak of in that regard, however money talks even when politicians and fellow pundits refuse to do so. Limbaugh lost seven major advertisers in the past several days one of whom, David Friend the CEO of the online computer security and backup firm Carbonite said:
“No one with daughters the age of Sandra Fluke, and I have two, could possibly abide the insult and abuse heaped upon this courageous and well-intentioned young lady. Mr. Limbaugh, with his highly personal attacks on Miss Fluke, overstepped any reasonable bounds of decency. Even though Mr. Limbaugh has now issued an apology, we have nonetheless decided to withdraw our advertising from his show. We hope that our action, along with the other advertisers who have already withdrawn their ads, will ultimately contribute to a more civilized public discourse.”
The only major figure in conservative media of any substance to condemn the lack of response by conservative politicians and candidates was George Will who said “Boehner comes out and says Rush’s language was inappropriate. Using the salad fork for your entrée, that’s inappropriate. Not this stuff,…And it was depressing because what it indicates is that the Republican leaders are afraid of Rush Limbaugh. They want to bomb Iran, but they’re afraid of Rush Limbaugh.”
Ron Paul did comment about the apology telling CBS’s Bob Schieffer “He’s doing it because some people were taking their advertisements off of his program,…. It was his bottom line he was concerned about.”
I completely agree with Will and Paul. If Limbaugh wanted to attack the policies he disagrees with that is one thing. Certainly there is room for debate on this issue as in all issues facing this country. If Limbaugh wants to attack those in political power with whom that he disagrees even in a personal matter, that is similar. However to attack a women, a law student at that in this personal, insidious, crude, ungentlemanly and even I might say un-Christian manner is something that he should be condemned for doing.
As for me I wonder what Bill Buckley, Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan would think of the man whom many call the intellectual and philosophical leader of conservatism. I don’t think that any would have much good to say at the level that Limbaugh has sunk to in this latest episode.
The irony is that Limbaugh is working on his fourth marriage and has had to deal with addiction to prescription drugs and accused of doctor shopping. He also was detained by Drug Enforcement officials at Palm Beach International Airport returning from the Dominican Republic in 2006 for having Viagra which was not prescribed in his name. Limbaugh had the nerve to attack the character of a woman speaking for something that is legal. What has conservatism sunk to?
The last irony is that at his last marriage ceremony Limbaugh had Elton John provide the entertainment. I guess that the title of Elton John’s classic “Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word” is in reality the theme of Limbaugh’s public persona.