Cliff Kincaid
March 13, 2012
Standing with Rush is political and moral suicide
By Cliff Kincaid

Rush Limbaugh has turned out to be the best thing going for President Obama and the Democrats. Although Obama's general popularity is taking a hit because of rising gas prices and other domestic and international problems, some polls suggest a significant swing in Obama's favor among women voters because of Limbaugh's attacks on Sandra Fluke and media coverage of Obama's birth control mandate. Some Republicans on Capitol Hill do not want to revisit the matter, even if they frame it in terms of protecting religious freedom, because of the fear they may be associated with Limbaugh and a losing issue.

Limbaugh had called Fluke a "slut" and "prostitute" and demanded sex tapes of her. During the course of this assault, he also got the facts completely wrong. He made accusations based on the false assumption that women use birth control pills only to prevent pregnancy and have promiscuous sex. In fact, birth control pills can be prescribed to address various medical problems faced by women, although they can have dangerous side-effects.

The other major mistake Limbaugh made was to accuse Fluke of wanting the taxpayers to pay for contraception. That was false. She wanted insurance companies to pay for it.

The damage has now been done but it can get worse, especially if conservatives and Republicans continue to defend him.

Politically, Limbaugh played into Obama's hands. Now we see this predictable headline in the New York Times: Obama Plans Big Effort to Build Support Among Women. It refers to Obama taking advantage of "controversies over Rush Limbaugh's slurs against a female advocate of the contraception policy..."

Columnist Bill King wrote: "I want to know how much the Democratic Party is paying Rush Limbaugh to sabotage Republican prospects in November."

Here are some of the headlines from the press:
  • "Limbaugh diatribe hurts GOP prospects."

  • "Limbaugh slur helping Democrats in their races across the nation."

  • "Democrats See Gold in Limbaugh's 'Slut' Controversy."
Here are some excerpts from a Washington Post article:

"A GOP strategist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the party's situation frankly, said: 'It's devastating. I don't think it's going to go away. I think it's going to be a significant challenge the Republican nominee is going to inherit.'

It's important to understand why this is happening. When Obama issued his birth control mandate, many Americans rallied to the defense of religious freedom, saying that the government should not dictate to private religious institutions. But when Limbaugh attacked Sandra Fluke, he changed the debate into one of women's rights. Limbaugh completely undermined the Catholic campaign to safeguard religious rights and freedoms. His grotesque assault on Fluke frustrated the growing awakening about Obama's true intentions toward the church and religious believers in general.

As the polls suggest, the backlash is helping the Democrats exploiting Fluke, who is milking the controversy for all it is worth. She rejected his apology, first offered up on his own website in the form of a statement, as insincere, and she had a point. A gentleman truly repentant about what he said or did would have contacted her personally to apologize. Limbaugh's "apology" was designed to save his job.

But the ploy may not work. Limbaugh is losing dozens of advertisers. Premier Networks, which syndicates Limbaugh 's radio show, has now suspended national advertising on the program for two weeks, apparently hoping the controversy will fade.

Regal Assets is one of more than 100 companies who have pulled their advertising from the Limbaugh radio show. CEO Tyler Gallagher said, "The attacks on Sandra Fluke were unwarranted and, we believe, intentionally inflammatory...I personally do not believe any company should support the type of slanderous, defaming attacks that came from Limbaugh, whether or not they agree with the other side of the issue. There is a far more civilized way to communicate, and we wish Limbaugh had taken the high road with the Sandra Fluke topic."

In a classic case of someone living in a glass house who should not throw stones, Limbaugh attacked Fluke personally, using vile and false accusations, when he is the one who has a lot of explaining to do. Limbaugh has been married four times (paying homosexual entertainer Elton John $1 million to perform at his last wedding), went deaf through the use of pain killers illegally acquired through his maid, and got caught smuggling Viagra to a party on a foreign island. This advocate of "family values" and traditional morality reportedly doesn't attend church.

To top it off, he is not a Reaganite conservative,despite what he says on the air. He didn't register to vote until 1986, after Reagan was re-elected to his second and last presidential term.He is a DJ who rode a conservative wave on the radio to financial success.

Keach Hagey reports in Politico that a few conservatives are now finding some spine, after years of pandering to get Limbaugh's approval. She notes that "...some conservatives believe he will no longer command the same kind of fealty from Republicans in Washington that prompted [Michael] Steele's groveling two years ago." Then-Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele had referred to Limbaugh in 2009 as just an entertainer and found himself offering an apology within a day.

Limbaugh tries desperately to avoid making apologies, even when he gets the facts completely wrong. His posted apology in the Fluke case shows how desperate he is in this case.

Last October Limbaugh went on the air accusing Obama of deploying "a hundred troops to wipe out Christians in Sudan, Uganda, and — no, I'm not kidding." His remarks ran on his website under the headline," Obama Invades Uganda, Targets Christians." Limbaugh made the claim because the troops were being deployed against a group called the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), led by Joseph Kony. Limbaugh had simply assumed because of the name of the group that it was Christian in nature.

Conservative Senator James Inhofe took to the Senate floor to point out that the LRA is not a Christian group, and that he supported Obama's actions. "Joseph Kony and the LRA are responsible for one of the longest, most violent, and costly conflicts ever on the continent of Africa," he said.

A fellow conservative said about Limbaugh: "Nobody is likely to confuse him with a reincarnation of William F. Buckley." In the case of the LRA, a middle-school student could have done a better job of checking the facts.

Limbaugh's reaction was to play some of Inhofe's comments on the air and joke about how his program had received congressional criticism. He left his own false comments up on his website, where they remain to this day.

This modus operandi was repeated in the Fluke case, with epithets added for dramatic and destructive effect. Limbaugh didn't seem to care whether he had the facts on his side or not. He apparently thinks the "ditto heads" — those who follow Limbaugh no matter what — will believe whatever he says. Unfortunately, based on some of the emails I have received in response to my criticism of Limbaugh, these "ditto heads" have adopted Limbaugh's personal style. They attack me as a sell-out and say things like "The facts were and still are on his side."

Even when Limbaugh is wrong and admits it, he's right, according to the "ditto heads." This is willful blindness.

Tragically, some conservative leaders are "standing with Rush," even though he may succeed in taking down the Republicans in November and re-electing Obama.

Sean Hannity is taking a somewhat different approach by changing the subject. He points to Bill Maher, who makes fun of conservative women and mocks religion and religious people. He contributed $1 million to a pro-Obama SuperPAC and Hannity wants Obama to give the money back. This is a fair point. But Maher is a comedian who appears on a premium cable channel and not on the public airwaves. What's more, he is a "celebrity pothead" and board member of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). In other words, he is not a clear thinker and doesn't pretend to be a serious policy analyst.

Hannity's point about a media double-standard is well-taken. We understand conservatives are being held to a higher standard. But what is wrong with that? And what are conservatives really saying when they compare Limbaugh to the dim-witted stoner Bill Maher?

© Cliff Kincaid

 

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