Who does Rush Limbaugh think he is, Don Imus? You may remember CBS sacked Don Imus over an on-air racial slur in 2009. Rush Limbaugh made Imus sound polite with a sexist slur, calling a Georgetown student “a slut” and “a prostitute.” Rush does not work for CBS. His program is on Clear Channel, which coincidentally is owned by Mitt Romney’s old company Bain Capital. Rush is proud of himself, too. “That [comment] has sent them into orbit! Pelosi’s in orbit and Sheila Jackson Lee. They’re still talking about it on the House floor.”
Here is that comment. “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?” Limbaugh said. “It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute.” Then he added, “She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception.” He continued the riff, “She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex.”
Rather than outright condemnation, timid Republicans try to remain mum about Rush Limbaugh’s defamatory comments. National Republican Senatorial Committee vice-chairman Carly Fiorina called Limbaugh’s language “insulting,” “incendiary,” and “a distraction.” House Speaker John Boehner called his words “inappropriate.” However, such cowardly commentary demonstrates GOP antipathy toward the national good, which they rarely if ever mention. That has been replaced by a debate about contraception that Speaker Boehner calls “an issue must win.”
At a time when Republicans are being reviled for waging war on women, Limbaugh is not helping them.
Republican presidents have invited Limbaugh to the White House. He has been given honorary titles, is praised by conservative magazines, and defended by conservative bloggers. He has a host of apologists who insist that his radio personality has conservative cachet and that he is the leading voice of conservatism. He gets away with being coarse and his audience loves it. He has become wealthy and Republicans seem to fear him.
He thrives in controversy, especially when he creates it. Hardly repentant, the next day he stood by his statements and mocked the President. “The president called her to make sure she’s okay,” Limbaugh said. “What is she 30 years old? Thirty years old, a student at Georgetown Law, who admits to having so much sex that she can’t afford it anymore.”
His words are costing Rush his sponsors. Quicken Loans founder and owner Dan Gilbert announced on Twitter, “Due to Rush Limbaugh’s inflammatory comments along w/valuable feedback from our clients & staff, Quicken Loans has suspended ads on his show.” The Citrix computer systems company announced, “We have listened to our customers & have decided to cease our advertising on The RUSH LIMBAUGH Show immediately.” Two other sponsors, Sleep Train and Sleep Number, also announced that they had pulled their ads from the show. More sponsors are expected to pull their ads as well by customer reactions.
Can Sandra Fluke sue Rush Limbaugh, as Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) has suggested? That legal action could be taken since Fluke is a private citizen and not a public figure, such as an elected official or an entertainer. The problem is that Fluke is an “involuntary public figure” as the result of publicity about her testimony, even though she did not want or invite the public attention.
As a messenger, Rush did not comment on an issue. He objectified women and slandered a person. I cannot imagine what action I would take if Limbaugh called my daughter “a slut.” But if that is the voice of conservatism, I will not listen to it. Any of it.