With the knowledge that millions of people do listen to him opine about the latest issues in American politics, it isn't surprising that his words carry a lot of weight, and like a wave crashing against the beach, they move the meter in a big way. He has gotten into trouble for his mouth before (including saying that he hoped that President Obama would "fail" when he entered the Oval Office), but there has been little that has generated the amount of derision that he encountered from both sides of the aisle than what he said about college student Sandra Fluke on Wednesday afternoon.
For the record, Fluke is a student at Georgetown University's law school, and the reason she came into Limbaugh's cross-hairs was that she testified in front of a committee of Democratic lawmakers about Obama's policy on insurance companies covering birth control. She was unable to testify in front of an actual Congressional panel, but her testimony to this body was apparently enough to infuriate Limbaugh, who railed about the taxpayers having to cover birth control for other people and called Fluke, among other things, a "slut" and a "prostitute".
Surely there were people in his audience who agreed with the characterization, but reaction was swift. Several Republican presidential candidates spoke out against the remarks, and Obama even went so far as to call her to say that he supported her speaking out. Amid all of this, Limbaugh's show ended up losing several sponsorships, and facing a growing tide of opposition, Rush finally decided to post a statement to his website on Saturday apologizing to Fluke for the comments he had made.
Of course, like any apology from any public figure, the statement was mostly of the "I'm sorry if I offended anyone" mold. A fuller text of the apology can be found in this Chicago Tribune piece, but what caught my attention was a paragraph in the middle of the story, and the hypocrisy oozing from the words burns in my brain about as brightly as if they had actually been spoken by the ignoramus.
"It is not our business whatsoever to know what is going on in anyone’s bedroom nor do I think it is a topic that should reach a presidential level.”If the idiocy and hypocrisy of this statement is lost on you, consider this: with Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney attempting to outdo each other in condemning this birth control coverage, and with Rush himself addressing it, why on Earth should he feel at all compelled to say that it's not anyone's business as to what is going on in citizen's bedrooms? After all, his party is the party that has been pushing for the banning of gay marriage across the country, and he has vehemently spoken out against rulings in favor of allowing gays to engage in civil unions or marriages on several occasions.
One such occasion occurred back in 2010 when a judge in California overturned Proposition 8, a controversial ballot initiative that banned gay marriage in the state. Instead of heeding his own (and ironically, correct) conservative principles about ignoring what goes on in other people's bedrooms, Limbaugh went off on a beautiful tangent about activist judges.
Quite obviously, Limbaugh not being able to follow his own advice on legislating sexual matters isn't surprising. After all, this is the man who subscribes to the "party of family values", but has had four different marriages in his lifetime. Frankly, this isn't a big deal by itself, because no one should be forced to stay in a marriage that isn't happy. However, to repeatedly bring up that marriage between a man and a woman is some type of matter of "sanctity", and then to follow up this bashing of a lifestyle in opposition to his own views with a plea for the Presidential candidates to stop their bedroom talk is patently absurd.
“They seek to impose their perverted views, their depraved views on family and marriage,” he thundered. “Nobody’s denying anybody the right to get married. Marriage? There’s a definition of it, for it. It means something. Marriage is a union of a man and a woman." (Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
To be fair, there are legitimate religious oppositions to forcing companies to provide contraception for their employees. Catholics hold those beliefs very strongly, and there should be room to accommodate those beliefs. Obama has even recognized that, and is taking steps to tone down the language in the bill ever slightly so that the burden is on the insurance companies themselves, rather than the company purchasing the insurance.
Even with this seeming appeal to calm the waters, the Republican Presidential contenders have continued to gnaw on the bone well after all the meat has already been taken off of it, and Limbaugh wanted to further that agenda by using inflammatory language to get his point across. Usually this isn't a big deal, because even if he had just called the movement in general "slutty" or "whorish", that would still generate controversy, but it would be on a much smaller scale. Singling out a college student at one of the most prestigious law schools in the nation is the equivalent of character assassination, and Fluke would be well within her rights to sue the media titan, and rightfully so.
To her credit, Fluke has approached this situation with poise and grace, while Limbaugh, even in apology, continues to look like a backward-thinking neanderthal with a penchant for uttering obscenely stupid statements masquerading as intelligent political dialogue. His hypocritical call to focus on the issues rings more hollow than the Tin Man's chest in The Wizard of Oz, and if his dittohead followers can't see that, then they truly are lost souls.
Shame on you, Mr. Limbaugh. The next time you go out of your way to hate someone with different opinions than you, I hope it may finally hit you just how big of a gasbag you really are.