“What does it say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke who goes before congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? It makes her a slut, right?” Rush Limbaugh said on his radio show on March 1. “It makes her a prostitute.”
Never mind that his faux outrage is groundless; never mind that he can’t even be bothered to get her name right.
Sandra, a third-year Georgetown law student, was rejected as a witness late last month on a congressional hearing on Obamacare’s contraception mandate.
Never mind — and this may be difficult — his level of obscenity and amount of vitriol personally directed at an innocent student.
Never mind that this episode has brought Mr. Limbaugh to a new low, which is really saying a lot because we certainly know better than to expect more from this shock jock overstaying his welcome.
Let’s talk for a moment about the pushback — or lack thereof — against Mr. Limbaugh from prominent Republicans.
John Boehner, the highest-ranking Republican in Congress, believes his “use of words was inappropriate,” leading George Will, the most sensible conservative voice in media today, to compare the impotent denunciation to “using the salad fork for your entrée.”
“An entertainer can be absurd,” said Rick Santorum, presidential candidate and culture warrior, almost defending Mr. Limbaugh in the context of his niche in the party. He “cringed” at the comments, he said.
What a pathetically cringe-worthy response.
And of course, Newt Gingrich did what he does best. “I am astonished at the desperation of the elite media to avoid rising gas prices…and to suddenly decide that Rush Limbaugh is the great national crisis of the week,” he said in trademark jackass style on Sunday.
However, the very worst response came from the once-sensible Mitt Romney, who said Rush’s despicable “slut” comment was “not the language I would have used.” Perhaps his comment isn’t the worst based on what was uttered, but it becomes so knowing whose mouth the comment came from.
Mr. Romney is the last of the presidential contenders for whom there was hope to find the bright, sensible center. It is now painfully evident that he extinguished this flickering candle many months ago.
And what could he possibly be afraid of? A radio host who has pushed himself further and further away from relevance (and sanity) has just personally attacked a college student. The press asks you for a reaction. Why would you not offer an unqualified condemnation of this abuse — abuse far better suited to “Mean Girls” than our national discourse?
Because, of course, this isn’t any radio host. His name is Rush Limbaugh, and though he no longer represents the GOP like Ed Schultz would have you believe, he somehow still has enough clout for politicians to think they need him.
The fact of the matter is that they don’t. “Republican leaders…don’t have the courage to say what they say in quiet. Which [is that] Rush Limbaugh is a buffoon,” said political analyst Matthew Dowd. “Nobody takes him seriously.”
Certainly in this pandering mess of a presidential field, no one has the courage to step up and reject Limbaugh’s blubbering buffoonery.
As advertisers flee from his show as if it were contagious — no fewer than 25 businesses have pulled their material at press time — Mr. Limbaugh may have finally succumbed to some of the pressure put on him in quiet.
“My choice of words was not the best,” he said in a statement on Saturday. And how pathetic his ‘apology’ was: qualified, nitpickingly specific, reeking of insincerity.
His “attempt to be hilarious” belied his disgusting diction; his characterization of Ms. Fluke’s “personal sexual recreational activities” belied any basis of fact.
“My choice of words was not the best.”
As walking yawn-fest Mitt Romney begins to pull away from his competitors in the presidential field, perhaps we should remember the choice of words he offered up when asked to remark on Rush Limbaugh.
It was “not the language I would have used,” he said.
How sad is the state of affairs when the plausible 45th president of the United States spits out an apology for Rush Limbaugh that so closely resembles the fringe fanatic’s own comment, he wouldn’t even hurdle the bar for academic plagiarism.
If Mr. Romney had any courage at all, he would have stood up to Rush Limbaugh and firmly, unequivocally denounced him.
Perhaps he does have that courage.
Too bad what came out of his mouth wasn’t the language he should have used.
Any language that Ed shouldn’t have used? Email him at edngai “at” stanford “dot” edu or tweet him @edngai.