Rush Is Regretting It

12
Posted March 7, 2012 by Kristian Lin in Blotch
slut

Today is International Women’s Day, and you can mark the occasion by reading our very informative cover story this week, or you can do what I’m doing and enjoy the spectacle of Rush Limbaugh feeling the heat over his Sandra Fluke comments, which has penetrated even the thick cocoon of right-wing lunacy that he inhabits. I don’t mind admitting that I’m savoring the sight of such a blowhard being given such a richly deserved comeuppance, which has thinkers of all stripes debating whether “Slutgate” has happened because of the rise of social networking, or because of Rush’s bungled attempt at an apology, or because his brand of demagoguery finally led him to push too far. The whole thing has given slut-shaming a bad name, and thank God for that. Conservatives are predictably blaming the evil liberal media complex, and they’re wondering why left-wing politicians haven’t refudiated repudiated the talking heads on their side when they’ve stepped out of line. That’s not an unfair question (and I have more on it further down), but it’s the wrong one. The question is: Why has this scandal stuck to Rush Limbaugh when he’s gotten away with saying so many other loathsome things in the past?

The answer is this: Limbaugh’s sustained verbal assault on a law student confirmed two negative stories about the right wing. Negative Story #1: Conservatives want to keep your vagina under lock and key. The seeds of the current Republican “war on women” meme were planted back in January, when the Department of Health and Human Services declined to expand the “religious exemption” which exempts churches and ministries only from handing out contraception to employees if it goes against the tenets of their religion. Anti-contraception forces wanted the right expanded to religiously affiliated employers. The Republican presidential candidates then spoke out against contraception until the Obama administration announced a compromise. On Slate, Amanda Marcotte convincingly argued that the Republicans had walked straight into a White House trap. That went along with Rep. Darrell Issa’s infamous no-girls-allowed House hearing on contraception and the Senate’s defeat of the Blunt amendment, which would have expanded the religious exemption to all employers (meaning that Wal-Mart or Subway Sandwiches or the accountant who works in the strip mall could pull their employees’ contraception if they wanted). Rush Limbaugh’s disgusting, ignorant, inaccurate, and cruel comments crystallized all the free-floating sentiment that conservatives want to turn America into Saudi Arabia. Now comedians aren’t just having a field day, they’re rolling around ecstatically in the grass.

Of course, the damage might have been confined to Limbaugh if Republican leaders had disowned his words, but since they didn’t, that played into Negative Story #2: Republicans are afraid of crossing even their wackiest voters. All four of the Republican candidates for president, as well as House Speaker John Boehner, were given chances to distance themselves from Limbaugh, and all they offered were the anodyne likes of Mitt Romney’s “It’s not the language I would have used.” The blogosphere was unimpressed. Of course, some right-wingers did step forward and condemn Rush in no uncertain terms, such as John McCain and fusty old George Will, who came up with some of the best lines of the scandal. (“Mr. Boehner said that Rush’s language was inappropriate. Using a salad fork for your entree — that is inappropriate.”) However, that only served to highlight the watered-down nature of the Republican leadership’s response. Steve Kornacki over on Salon detailed how Limbaugh’s rise to power coincided with the victories scored by Newt Gingrich’s radical conservatives in the 1990s, which is why many right-wingers feel as if criticizing Limbaugh is the same as criticizing conservatism itself. The reason why no Democratic politicians have needed to slap down any left-wing nuts since Bill Clinton’s Sister Souljah moment is because no media figure on the left — not Jon Stewart, not Rachel Maddow, not Michael Moore — has anything like Limbaugh’s stature on the right. (Bill Maher may be making a play for that status with his $1 million donation to the Obama campaign, but he still has a ways to go before Democratic politicians start acting in fear of him.) For years, left-wingers have wondered why they haven’t had a Rush Limbaugh of their own. Now they’re seeing the benefits of not having one.

Will Rush survive? This looks similar to the scandal that took down Don Imus, but Rush has more stations on his side (even after some of them have dropped him), and his fans are more devoted to him than Imus’ were. Rush is certainly right that his advertisers can be replaced. Still, if this costs Republicans women’s votes in the general election and Obama is re-elected in the fall, those fans might want to stop and think. And Obama might want to send Rush a nice gift basket.


12 Comments


  1.  
    Roy

    Actually, Rush wants Obama re-elected. Think about it.




  2.  
    paula

    Great article. Will read you regularly.




  3.  
    betty.brink

    Great ariticle Kristian. Loved your reference to Sarah Palin’s “refudiated” moment.




  4.  
    Obama's Seat

    This will be approximately the 37th time Rush Limbaugh has been brought down buy the left, right?

    It’s not like he called the woman a cunt, or a bag of meat with lipstick, or a miserable twat – it would be beyond the pale for any media commentator to direct that sort of language at a woman, right?

    Right?




  5.  
    Obama's Seat

    “Actually, Rush wants Obama re-elected. Think about it.”

    That was the CW when Clinton was President, that Rush would disappear once Clinton was out of office – that he needed Clinton to be successful.

    That proved a somewhat faulty assumption.




  6.  
    Obama's Seat

    Kristan, your article above contains several misrepresentations.

    But this is liberal-themed newspaper, so that’s OK.




  7.  
    Kristian

    Paula and Betty, thanks.

    Roy, your idea that Rush wants Obama re-elected would be absolutely true under most circumstances. Historically, he recedes into the background when the Republicans are in charge. (He’s not built to be a cheerleader.) However, this time might be different. If Obama is re-elected on the back of the women’s vote, would Rush’s listeners say, “It’s your fault that we have four more years of the Kenyan socialist”? I don’t know the answer to that one.

    Obama’s Seat, where are my misrepresentations? Share with us!




  8.  
    Obama's Seat

    Minor stuff-

    “Darrell Issa’s infamous no-girls-allowed House hearing on contraception”

    The hearings were concerning the mandate’s effect on religious liberty, so you’re technically correct, but only by half. Witnesses were chosen based on their expertise concerning church/state constitutional issues, not contraception.

    Democrats submitted as their expert witness a male – based on his expertise in the area of church/state issues. Guess they couldn’t find a girl?

    So, who made this hearing “no girls”? The very people who later attacked issa for not scheduling any women.

    Fluke was submitted past the allowable time, per House rules, and one can only wonder why testimony concerning the travails of contraception options for law-school students would be appropriate in a hearing which had nothing to do with that issue.

    “…the Department of Health and Human Services declined to expand the “religious exemption” which exempts churches and ministries only from handing out contraception to employees if it goes against the tenets of their religion. Anti-contraception forces wanted the right expanded to religiously affiliated employers.”

    The government moves to deny an existing right – freedom of religious conscience as protected by the Constitution and restoration of religious freedom Act .

    Those targeted by the State are trying to “expand”?




  9.  
    Kristian

    The party line on the right has been that this is about religious freedom and not contraception. Well, guess what? Once Rush said the word “slut,” nobody cared any more. And it perfectly confirmed what a lot of left-wingers think, which is that right-wingers are a bunch of revolting old sexist dudes who think that women are icky if they occasionally have sex (and that the “religious freedom” bit is just a polite way of saying that).

    That men-only hearing was called by the Republicans, who control the House for the moment. They stage-managed the whole deal. Weren’t they aware that the photos of five guys in suits testifying about a woman’s right to contraception was going to open them up to all kinds of ridicule? What obligation did the committee’s Democrats have to stop them from making this blunder?

    And hell yeah, those poor targets of the state that you refer to are trying to expand the right of any employer, whether they believe in God, Allah, Zoroaster, or Tezcatlipoca, to impose their beliefs on their workers. If my boss believes in Tezcatlipoca, that’s fine, but I don’t want my job to depend on me acting in accordance with his religion. I hate taking part in human sacrifices. They’re horrifying and messy.




  10.  
    Betty Brink

    Great comeback Kristian. And I think our boss’ “religion” is the First Amendment.




  11.  
    Obama's Seat

    Y”Weren’t they aware that the photos of five guys in suits testifying about a woman’s right to contraception was going to open them up to all kinds of ridicule?”

    At the risk of repeating myself – the hearings were concerned with issues related to Constitutional constraints of government power, not contraception.

    “And hell yeah, those poor targets of the state that you refer to are trying to expand the right of any employer…”

    The State has expanded, the rights of the employer have been diminished. The Catholic church is not the aggressor.

    All this to answer, as it has been determined, a manufactured crisis.

    “..but I don’t want my job to depend on me acting in accordance with his religion..”

    No-one in the employ of a Catholic hospital or charity is required to be catholic nor abide by any catholic tenets, that would violate federal law.

    And as Betty Brink rightfully says in response “And I think our boss’ “religion” is the First Amendment.”

    Well, yeah, that’s the whole point. First Amendment Freedom of Religion, not Freedom of State to dictate religious choice.

    Liberals should oppose this.

    But then again, we have greater things to worry about, according to the new york Times…

    “On Wednesday, White House officials summoned dozens of leaders of nonprofit organizations that strongly back the health law to help them coordinate plans for a prayer vigil…”

    The Executive Branch Organizing the Church to Petition the Supreme Court with Prayer. Holy moly!

    The Real Story is not Rush Limbaugh, of course he walked into a trap, but anyone that has Gloria Allred, Jane Fonda and Gloria Steinem calling for his head will be ok.

    But wait, there’s more on this church-state relationship, they’re still dating, according to the NYT:

    “On Wednesday, White House officials summoned dozens of leaders of nonprofit organizations that strongly back the health law to help them coordinate plans for a prayer vigil….”




  12.  
    Obama's Seat

    Sorry for the sloppy edit, I blame the cat





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