Rush to judgement

Yes, it is finally here. My take on the Rush Limbaugh flip flap. I’m sure the media has come up with a more official name for the controversy, but honestly, I’m too tired to go look.

First, let’s look at it through the Eye of Newt:

“I think it was appropriate for Rush to apologize and I’m glad he apologized,” Gingrich said. Cool, I’m fine with that. But then he followed that remarkably tepid foray into the fray with a few more words criticizing the media coverage of the Limbaugh flip flap.

“You know, David, I am astonished at the desperation of the elite media to avoid rising gas prices, to avoid the President’s apology to religious fanatics in Afghanistan, to avoid a trillion-dollar deficit, to avoid the longest period of unemployment since the Great Depression, and to suddenly decide that Rush Limbaugh is the great national crisis of this week.”

Newt Gingrich, speaking on Meet The Press, March 4, 2012

If we parse all that, we get: Rush should have apologized but the “elite media” made too much of a big deal about the whole thing.

The logical conclusion? Without the media hubbub (and the seven advertisers who pulled out) Rush would have never had to apologize.

Let’s look at Rush. For days after his outrageous comments, he was not apologetic. In fact, far from it. He was “in your face” and piled on the inflammatory remarks with glee. At some point, however, things reached a tipping point, and then he “apologized.” (Those are my air quotes.)

But I’m willing to bet that the apology was a crass one. Has Rush really changed his mind? Does he feel genuine regret? I highly doubt it. I’m willing to bet dollars to donuts that behind the scenes he’s mad as hell at the reaction and, as he sees it, being forced to apologize. I’m sure a guy like Limbaugh would rather eat his hat than ever admit he was wrong about something.

Last, but certainly not least, let us check in with our old friend Mitt Romney. Surely he had a decisive reaction to the flip flap?

I’ll just say this, which is, it’s not the language I would have used.
–Mitt Romney speaking about the Rush Limbaugh flip flap

Did I describe Newt’s response as “tepid?” I apologize and humbly retract that observation. Romney just went and made Newt’s comments look like frothy histrionics.

If you ever want to see a politician who plays things right down the middle, here he sits. The dude must be rife with fear of offending anyone on either side. Jeez. Take a stand for something, will ya, Mitt?

I don’t even know what Mitt’s comment even means. Does he even think Rush should have apologized? His comment is so neutral there is no way to know!

If you think about it, his comment seems to imply that Rush’s message was acceptable. The problem was just the way it was delivered. I guess Romney thinks it acceptable in civilized discourse to call someone a prostitute if they happen to have a different opinion than you. But isn’t that what makes freedom such a glorious thing?

By the way, Limbaugh in his apology, didn’t even take responsibility for his comments, instead referring to what he originally said was an “attempt to be humorous.” I guess we can also add “liar” to his list of accolades. Today’s challenge: Try to find anyone who actually believes that could possibly be true.

Someone please tell me that this whole thing isn’t an example of what leadership from the right looks like.

20 responses

  1. Mitt has learned that anything you say will be misquoted and misused. Don’t stick your neck out, or the media will lop it off!

    Rush did a grave disservice to the discussion of the issue and grave problem of government overreach in mandating what private businesses should provide. That’s a polite way of saying that Rush was a jerk! I’m sick of name-calling. And that also goes for Bill Maher, the self-described “comedian.” I used to like him. It’s really sad how he devolved into such a misogynist. When you disagree with a woman’s opinions, you do not call her a derogatory name, as both Rush and B.M. have done (unless you do it subtly as I have done by using the initials, B.M.)


    1. Ah, the ultimate politician’s trick. Dance a little sidestep. Now they see me, now they don’t, I’ve come and gone. 🙂

      I’ve often posited that adult humans are just physically larger than their kindergarden counterparts and (possibly) a bit more refined. The instinct to search out and push that one button you think will provide the most reaction is within us all. Think of it as the provoker’s “low hanging fruit.”

      Name calling is the refuge of those who’s arguments can’t stand on their own.

      I do think there are several legitimate points and points of view regarding the complex topic of contraception, big government, religion, et al.

      Unfortunately I haven’t had time to check out your Bill Maher link yet. I hope to do so soon because you went and made me curious about it.


  2. I agree in general with Newt Gingrich that the media has allowed this to become center ring in the media circus, when there are so many other pressing issues to talk about. What Limbaugh did was bad, but nothing the media hasn’t seen from many liberals while looking the other way, as Catherine mentioned above.

    But all of this is a distraction from the real issue, whether government should require faith-based organizations (or anyone for that matter) to provide medical insurance for procedures that go against their moral fiber. We’ve completely left that discussion of great importance for a discussion of trivial pursuit. Whether Rush calls Sandra Fluke a fruit or a nut, or Bill Mahr (among others) calls Palin an oak tree has no bearing on the political discussion.

    Like Catherine, I used to like Bill Mahr when his work was political satire as a stand-up comedian. Although I find his show somewhat disgusting, I still watch it to stay in tune with thoughts from the dark side… 🙂 From what I’ve seen of your particular blog, I’m thinking you might like his show. It is funny to people who like the extreme left point of view… and somewhat funny to the rest of us.


    1. Hi, Tim!

      Thanks so much for the comment. I’m happy to check out liberals vs. conservatives in the Octagon of Death, such as Bill Maher vs. Rush Limbaugh, and make up my own mind if they are really apples-to-apples comparisons or not. I just got home from a three-day weekend and haven’t had a chance to check out Catherine’s information yet. She’s a very respected voice here on the blog, so I give her opinions a lot of weight.

      I do recall that Al Franken said Rush was a big fat idiot in a book title, but we all know what people are willing to say in book titles, right? Thanks a lot, Coulter! 🙂

      My gut tells me that “there are more important things” is some sort of logical fallacy. Just because C = D doesn’t mean that A != B. They could both be true at the same time. However, I do agree the prioritizations might be out of whack. We all know if it bleeds it leads. The particular message here, though, especially with monikers like “elite” tossed in, is that this is somehow a liberal only kind of deal. Only liberal media makes mountains out of molehills? I won’t buy that one.

      I do feel the contraception issue is an important one and worthy of serious discussion. It’s too bad that Limbaugh wasn’t up for that, even though he did once try to enter the United States with Viagra on his person. (Heh!)


      1. Here’s what Joe Klein of Time Magazine said today about all of this phony War on Contraceptives: “I think that the strongest case that the Republicans have that’s been obscured by all of this craziness is that the regulatory state has gotten out of control. And so that when you bring it down to contraception, you ask yourself, why, in a country where we don’t require employers to provide health insurance should we require them to – those who do provide health insurance, to provide contraception? Now, I’m all in favor of contraception, but I think that this is a major overstepping of the state’s role.”

        Klein is known to be “in the tank” for Obama, so it’s been interesting that he makes this case. So Klein agrees with Tim Strickland and me. 😉


  3. I, too, wanted to do a Rush post but I got bored half way through so it may never make it to publication.

    Really, my only question is: are there Republicans out there who’ve had a vasectomy that was paid for by their health care provider? I think I can stop right there.


    1. Never hold yourself back. Your opinions are too valuable to waste into not birthing them. Or something like that. 🙂 Let there be no contraception of your thoughts! (Heh.)

      Holy fucking shit! What? Vasectomies are covered by health plans? What about for, gasp, employees who work for religion employers, such as the Catholic Church?

      A bit of research turned up this tidbit:

      The conversation surrounding reproductive health have only been made worse by sound bites from people who still hold a 1950’s women-are -responsible-for-birth-control attitude and lop-sided logic. For example, when the Catholic church said that Viagra, which is currently covered for men on staff, solves a medical problem and that contraception does not, Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show” responded with: “So the Catholic Church says that a boner is a need, but not getting pregnant is … more of a want.

      Source: GoodMenProject

      What I found is that the Catholic health plan doesn’t cover vasectomies, either. I’m sure if it did the elite media would have already exploded.

      But Viagra? The Catholic health plan has pills for Smiling Bob? (Hint: He’s smiling because he has an erection.) That blows my mind. Of course, it’s our old friend That-Which-Spurs-Reproduction-Must-Be-Supported-At-All-Costs. Or, as I like to call it, “recruitment.” Above all else membership must continue to grow. And thus, finally, we arrive at the omnipresent crux of the matter.


  4. The question is not about whether your insurance company pays for contraception or sterilization but about whether the government can force a business or institution to provide insurance coverage to pay for contraception, abortifacient or any other procedure. As Joel Klein said, the institutions don’t even have to provide insurance coverage at all. Of course, that could be the point of this whole exercise. To have the government rush to the rescue.

    Some of the same people I’ve talked to who want government-controlled health care are the some of the same people who decry our big bullying government.

    I personally have no moral problem with birth control pills being covered, and it’s probably cheaper for insurance companies in the long run. However, many policies don’t even cover pregnancy unless you pay extra. Nothing’s free.


  5. Dear Newt,

    Assuming your point about the “elite media” is correct, my mom taught me something that may be of interest. “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

    That sort of logical fallacy has no place in responsible political discourse. (You know. The type not practiced by the likes of Rush Limbaugh.)

    Also, just curious, but why is it the conservatives like you always rail on about free markets and such, but when it’s the media, somehow you suddenly find the whole concept of success distasteful. Presumably the media, be it “elite” (whatever that means), liberal, conservative or pink purple elephants, is what it is because it satisfies demand in the marketplace. Of all people I would have thought you’d be celebrating that. Or is your belief system so thin that you’ll only follow the tenants of your own cherished values when they happen to support your personal opinions? Weird. I never seem to hear you bellyaching about the media when it is FOX News.

    All my love,



    1. Tom,

      I think at one time, media was expected to be unbiased reporting of facts rather than reporting from the aspect of supporting one agenda or another. The problem that the conservatives have tried to highlight for at least two decades is that there is no such thing anymore. Regardless of the media outlet, it can always be defined as right-wing or left-wing media.

      To your point about supporting free markets of the media, take a look at the attacks on right-wing radio talk shows over the last 10 years or so. Left-wing radio talk shows are almost always found only on the NPR network and almost never on privately funded corporate stations. The few shows that have appeared on privately held radio have failed miserably. So, in the last 5 years there has been a push by the liberals to force privately held radio to provide equal time for both sides of the discussion…

      I don’t believe that Newt was meaning to say ‘two wrongs make a right’. But at the same time, media, who controls much of the public conversation, did swing the topic quite drastically away from a discussion about contraceptives to a discussion about the meanies on the right attacking the poor your maid from college. It is, to some degree, the tail wagging the dog.


  6. Hi Catherine, I’m reading your link from the Daily Beast and the column by Kirsten Powers. I’m not finding a lot of apples to apples. In fact, some of her examples may be assholes in action, but I doubt many could be found who would scream, “Misogynist!” I think, however, she was successful at finding lots of examples of the kindergarten button pushing I mentioned earlier.

    Bimbo alert? Ok, yeah, that counts. Ed Schultz used a gender-specific word for idiot. Personally I don’t think much of the guy. What? I have to like everyone just because they’re on my side of the aisle? I think not. Besides, I thought he already got the boot for some other dumbass move?

    Keith Olbermann said a person with a political opinion he didn’t like should have been aborted? How is that misogynistic? Just because the target was female? I think we can call that a miss in the apples-to-apples test.

    I give Olbermann discussing Carrie Prejean’s breasts (presumably because of her opinion on same-sex marriage) full credit. The language may not have been has offensive Limbaugh’s, but it was still wrong. I think the difference in response is probably measured based on how inflammatory the words that were used and the way they were used. I’m not sure since she didn’t link to the actual incident.

    Insulting someone and throwing in the word “lipstick” because the person is a woman automatically makes it misogynistic? I’ll begrudgingly grant that one, too, but we’re talking shades of gray here. Is that really an honest comparison to what Rush did?

    The Hillary insult involves a solution where she and another person enter a room and only “he” comes out. Is it the “he” that makes it misogynistic? The same point would have stood if he had used “she” or, even better, left out gender pronouns all together, right? This one seems like a stretch.

    And then there is Bill Maher. Yes, someone I like. I usually enjoy the hell out of his HBO Real Time show.

    I see he has read my “batshit crazy” shirt.

    Powers calls Maher the “grand pooh-bah of media misogyny.” Granted she makes a couple of good points. I could see him lose advertisers (how do we know he hasn’t?) and there might be a bias that he hasn’t provoked a response like Rush did.

    “Flabby arms.” Is that an attack only on women? I did not know that. If you look carefully, a lot of the examples in her article are not gender-specific at all or being stretched a bit to appear so. Anyone who thinks that only women have flabby arms has never seen my touchdown dance.

    She even tries to twist the word “crazy” into a hormone thing. Sorry. Fail.

    Of course, all of it is wrong, whether a gender is involved to flavor the insult or not. Asshole behavior doesn’t make logic points. It attempts to anger and divide good people.

    If the argument is being made that one side or the other is more sexist and/or asshole-like than the other, my guts tells me in the end that it’s probably extremely equal. The existence of Limbaugh alone is almost enough to justify that belief.


  7. Looks like Jon Stewart took up the Tom B. Taker argument:

    But unlike Colbert, Stewart argued that Limbaugh wasn’t worthy of so much media attention: “Personally, I don’t get too worked up about the things Rush Limbaugh says because he is, and has been for many years, a terrible person.”

    Nevertheless, Stewart proceeded to spend the rest of the segment debunking Limbaugh’s claims, while also criticizing the Republican presidential candidates and Fox News personalities who agree with Limbaugh’s reasoning, if not his inflammatory word choice.

    According to Stewart, they all object to the birth control mandate in the federal healthcare law simply because it means paying — albeit very, very indirectly — for something they don’t support. “Everyone pays for [stuff] they don’t want to all the time. Reimburse me for the Iraq war and oil subsidies, and guess what then? Diaphragms are on me,” he said, eliciting huge applause from his audience.


  8. Tom, Please the Powers’ link again and again. Calling a woman a cxxt because you don’t like her views is definitely misogynistic. Bill Maher has done that many times. Isn’t that why Rush got called out? If calling a woman a name instead of discussing her views rationally is not misogynistic then why all of the outrage over Rush?

    Here’s Kirsten Powers: “During the 2008 election Ed Schultz said on his radio show that Sarah Palin set off a “bimbo alert.” He called Laura Ingraham a “right-wing slut.” (He later apologized.) He once even took to his blog to call yours (KP) truly a “bimbo” for the offense of quoting him accurately in a New York Post column.” Sounds misogynistic to me.

    KP again: “Chris Matthews asked a guest if “being surrounded by women” makes “a case for commander in chief—or does it make a case against it?” At some point Matthews was shamed into sort of half apologizing to Clinton, but then just picked up again with his sexist ramblings.”

    KP: “Maher has called Palin a “dumb twat” and dropped the C-word in describing the former Alaska governor. He called Palin and Congresswoman Bachmann “boobs” and “two bimbos.”

    I’m really disappointed that any man doesn’t find this misogynistic.

    KP: “Bill Maher recently made a joke about Rick Santorum’s wife using a vibrator. Imagine now the same joke during the 2008 primary with Michelle Obama’s name in it, and tell me that he would still have a job. Maher said of a woman who was harassed while breast-feeding at an Applebee’s, “Don’t show me your tits!” as though a woman feeding her child is trying to flash Maher. (Here’s a way to solve his problem: don’t stare at a strangers’ breasts). Then, his coup de grâce: “And by the way, there is a place where breasts and food do go together. It’s called Hooters!”

    Bill Maher is disgusting.

    I could find many, many examples of the women-hating rants of liberals towards Hillary Clinton when she was running against Obama. I find this all very distressing.

    I am angry with Rush because he did screw up this discussion. He’s not a man without a huge amount of baggage. He shouldn’t have thrown stones (or called Fluke names), because he does live in a glass house.

    I agree with Tim Strickland about the media. I went to Journalism School. We were taught to be unbiased. I am wholly ashamed and outraged at what journalism has turned into. Maybe it was always this way to some extent. Elite doesn’t mean necessarily excellent, either. It means a self-selected group in charge. The power-brokers. People who can be a complete jerks or a woman-haters and still be called elite. It;s like a little men’s club with a sign with “No Girls Allowed.” The libs do that as much if not more than conservatives.

    Here’s what Wikipedia says: “An elite in political and sociological theory, is a small group of people who control a disproportionate amount of wealth and/or political power. The elite in modern U.S. society consists of the highest ranking members of the corporate community, academia, politicians, media editors, military service personnel, and high-profile journalists.” It says nothing about smart, kind or excellent.

    Finally (phew!), the focus needs to be on whether institutions can be forced to subsidize activities that they are morally opposed to, such as morning-after pills or even abortions. And yeah, I don’t want to pay for the Iraq War, either. I was against that from Day One. Or before Day One.


    1. Thanks, Catherine! Whoops. I didn’t read the link all the way and/or carefully enough. I didn’t see the reference to the C-word. Yeah, that does bother me, and so do some of the other references from Maher, too.

      I agree there may be some of a double-standard with Maher vs. Rush but at the same time, it isn’t truly an apples-to-apples comparison, either. One is a standup comedian who makes political jokes and observations and the other is political commentator/talk show host. (Weird. Wikipedia currently lists “comedian” first under Rush’s occupation. Someone having fun again?)

      Another difference between the two is that Maher mainly broadcasts on a for-pay basis and Rush uses the open airwaves and is underwritten by sponsors.

      If comparing the two truly isn’t an apples-to-apples situation, is this really a case of the media being biased? I’m not about to defend Maher’s offensive sexism, but he is a comedian, and they routinely do stuff like that. Rush is more commentator than “entertainer” (a word he likes to use to describe himself when people take umbrage) and “comedian.” (The latter is not a word that would come to mind if I were to describe Rush.)

      Maher mainly goes after laughs while trying to make some points. And I don’t always agree with the points he makes. Limbaugh wields more political influence and, in my opinion, sees himself as an important and serious voice on the right on conservatism and policy. His role may be “unofficial” but it is, by far, more official in the political arena than Maher, a man who is primarily a comedian.

      I admit there is a lot of gray area and crossover with both, but primarily one is a comedian and entertainer and the other makes money on his political opinions.

      Lastly, I think Limbaugh happens to be a pretty mean guy. (Again, I’m not defending anything Maher has ever said or done.) He seems to add little of value to society, much like a banker and paperpushers that I often decry as parasites. He divides and incites people and even when he has valid points he probably does more harm than good. His tactics really aren’t that useful even if he is able to profit from them greatly. And yeah, maybe the same should be said of Maher.

      I do recall something about the Ed Schultz and Laura Ingraham incident. it was the first time I’d heard of either one of them. Didn’t he get kicked off his show for that?

      I agree with you that Maher’s comments on women that you shared are disgusting. I’m just not so sure the alleged double-standard in the media is all it is being made out to be. There may be a lot to it but not as much as some people seem to think. That’s just my opinion. And I could be wrong about all of this. 🙂

      Sorry for the rambling. Maybe posting this is a big mistake but I’m just trying to be fair and call ’em like I see ’em. Which is also what I appreciate hearing so much from you and Tim.


      1. Thanks for your reply! I don’t give Bill Maher a pass for being a so-called comedian. He is amplifying a misogynistic environment. The 2008 election was a horrible one for women with men demeaning Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton in extremely sexist ways. Many, many of those men were liberals. I used to get Talking Points Memo updates in my email, but I unsubscribed because of all of the sexist anti-Hillary vitriol. I’m not even that fond of Hillary. These mostly male commentors used very misogynistic terms to demean her, and also Palin, of course. Even liberal women did so.

        Bill Maher is now calling for the attacks on Rush to stop. Maybe he’s nervous since his name has come up so frequently. Of course, Obama has weighed in on this whole episode, bringing his wife and daughters into it, while not saying he disapproves of his Super PAC taking $1 million from misogynistic Bill Maher.

        I’ll never forget this exchange between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. While not calling her a name, Obama displays his pettiness and dismissiveness. Hillary graciously chose to take it as a joke, but it was’t meant as one.


  9. Catherine, you’ve given me a lot to think about. Going sexist in a debate or political discussion, like I said earlier, just because your opponent is a different gender, is basically the logical version of saying, “I’ve got nothing.” In fact, it’s worse than that. It’s a desperation move. After all, if you had actual facts to back up your position, why not use them? Sexism is another form of personal attack which tries to make the discussion about something other than the issue and that sort of thing is always a failure.

    I was not attempting to argue that Maher gets a pass. My point is that Maher is a comedian and Limbaugh is a political commentator, thus, an apples-to-apples comparison is not valid.

    What Limbaugh did was wrong. When Maher used the C-word to describe Palin that was also wrong. They are both wrong.

    I was laying in bed this morning and before I got up I found myself thinking about “Limbaugh vs. Maher.” As a comedian, Maher essentially says, “Buy my product.” If he entertains well enough, then he is a success. That’s the free market at work.

    As a political commentator, Limbaugh’s job is to make money for his advertisers. If he becomes ineffective at that or becomes an obstacle against that goal, then he’s not doing his job. Last I heard something like 22 advertisers have opted out of Limbaugh’s form of “entertainment.” That’s the free market of public opinion. They have reached the point where they feel it will be more detrimental to their business to remain a part of his show. This is also the free market at work.

    Limbaugh, for his part, sneers at his former benefactors and has told departing sponsors that they don’t want his audience’s business. The exact quote, from his website, is this: “Don’t Worry, Folks: Advertisers Who Don’t Want Your Business Will Be Replaced.”

    Perhaps it would be more apropos to say something like, “You don’t shit where you eat.”

    No doubt Limbaugh will survive this. Like he says, he will get more advertisers. Maybe his rates will go down for a while and his ad space will become a “bargain.” Business is cyclical like that. In the end, he’ll continue to be a force for division and adding rancor to political discussion in our country. And there will always be people willing to make a buck on that. Parasites will go to almost any length to avoid adding actual value.


    1. Rush deserves to get spanked for belittling women. But I do think Maher vs Rush is apples to apples, because Maher is selling a product, too. There are no ads on HBO (other than for itself), but people do cancel HBO when they are unsatisfied. We got a special deal on HBO so we signed up last year. I don’t have time to watch that much television (I like to read and write, do art and photography, friends, family, cats, dog, work, etc., and I have blogs like yours to read and reply to, which I enjoy more than the tube.) but a friend urged us to sign up to watch Bill Maher. We had watched him years ago when he hosted the free Politically Correct, but apparently when he left network censorship on HBO his crude and misogynistic side was revealed. I couldn’t stand to watch, but I did for a while. And there were some funny bits, I admit, but overall I just yelled at the television. We canceled our subscription early. I can get the other shows later other ways, such as Game of Thrones, which I watched in a marathon that my son got some way and which had Danish subtitles.

      Obama’s strategist and misogynist David Axelrod is scheduled to go on Maher’s show:


  10. These two Congresswomen refuse to condemn Maher for saying worse than what Rush said.


  11. This is what we should be talking about, too. The Church of Big Government.


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