Pages Menu
TwitterRssFacebook
Categories Menu

Posted by on Mar 6, 2012 in Media, Politics | 23 comments

Where’s the Outrage?

WASHINGTON — How’s this for political cowardice? Right-wing bloviator Rush Limbaugh launches a vile attack, full of sexual insults and smarmy innuendo, against a young woman whose only offense was to speak her mind. Asked to comment, the leading Republican presidential candidates — who bray constantly about “courage” and “leadership” — run from the bully and hide.

“I’ll just say this, which is, it’s not the language I would have used,” said Mitt Romney. I wonder what language Romney thinks Limbaugh should have used to call Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute.”

“He’s being absurd, but that’s, you know, an entertainer can be absurd,” said Rick Santorum. I doubt seriously that Fluke found it entertaining, in an absurdist kind of way, when Limbaugh creepily suggested she and other women post sex videos on the Internet. I hope and trust that Santorum wasn’t entertained, either.

As for Newt Gingrich, the cat got his tongue, and apparently didn’t return it until Limbaugh had already apologized to Fluke for his “insulting word choices.” Gingrich went out on a limb Sunday and called Limbaugh’s apology “appropriate.”

Which it wasn’t, by the way. Limbaugh’s claim that “I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke” is an obvious lie; there’s no impersonal way to call a woman a slut. His abuse of Fluke — who advocated publicly last week that the health insurance she receives through Georgetown, a Catholic university, should be required to cover birth control — was no one-time gaffe. He poured it on, day after day.

And when he decided to back down, Limbaugh apologized only for his choice of words — not for the bitter misogyny he now believes he should have cloaked in prettier language.

Of the GOP candidates, only Ron Paul seemed to notice the insincerity of Limbaugh’s regret. “I don’t think he’s very apologetic,” Paul said. “He’s doing it because some people were taking their advertisements off his program. It was his bottom line he’s concerned about.”

Why will Paul say the obvious while Romney, Santorum and Gingrich are barely willing to clear their throats? Because Paul, who is in this campaign to spread the gospels of libertarianism and Austrian economics, knows he can’t win the Republican nomination. The others, who think they do have a chance to win, are afraid of making Limbaugh into an enemy — or, in Romney’s case, into more of an enemy than he already is.

So let’s get this straight: These guys want us to believe they’re ready to face down Vladimir Putin, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong Eun, the Taliban and what’s left of al-Qaeda. Yet they’re so scared of a talk-radio buffoon that they ignore or excuse an eruption of venom that some of Limbaugh’s advertisers — eight, at last count, have said they would no longer sponsor the show — find inexcusable.

I would have thought that crass political calculation might lead the would-be GOP nominees to the correct position on Limbaugh’s rhetorical depravity. Women constitute a majority of voters. If they merely lean toward the Democrats this fall, as they usually do, Republicans still have a mathematical chance to win the presidency by racking up a big majority among men. But if the GOP is perceived to endorse Limbaugh’s hateful rhetoric about “feminazis” and his stance of male grievance, female voters could turn what looked like a winnable election for Republicans into a debacle.

But Romney, Santorum and Gingrich are so frightened of being labeled insufficiently conservative — in this context, meaning “not nice enough to Rush” — that when given the opportunity to show some backbone, they go all wobbly.

What does this say about these men? To me, it suggests that maybe Romney isn’t as smart and disciplined as he’s said to be. Maybe Santorum isn’t as sincere, compassionate or moralistic as he appears. Maybe Gingrich’s vaunted intellectual courage is afraid of its own shadow.

As it happens, President Obama called Fluke last week to express his support. Perhaps, as a father, he imagined how he would feel if one of his own daughters were attacked so viciously. Perhaps, as a canny politician, he saw the benefit of denouncing Limbaugh’s caustic caterwauling.

Either way, Republicans spent yet another week talking about contraception. Casey Stengel once said that “most ballgames are lost, not won.” He could have been talking about elections.

Eugene Robinson’s email address is eugenerobinson(at)washpost.com (c) 2012, Washington Post Writers Group

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2012 The Moderate Voice
  • ShannonLeee

    This has gone from outrage to a political strategy…and now I am starting the question the sincerity of certain people’s extremely delayed outrage.

  • dmf

    I’m sure, if anyone ever insults someone else’s Christianity on a public stage, Santorum will just brush it off as an entertainer being absurd, as well…

  • slamfu

    Santorum and them really dropped the ball on this one. At this point they can’t even act outraged without being seen as crass panderers. In Santorum’s case I think he probably agrees with Rush that she’s a whore but is at least smart enough not to say it.

  • zephyr

    Robinson is right, if they are too weak-kneed to even stand up to a gasbag like Rush, how can they pretend they have the stuff to stand up to dictators across the world?

    And dmf, don’t be fooled by bogus talking points. Santorum’s religion isn’t the problem. Santorum is the problem. I assume you’re smart enough to know the difference.

  • slamfu

    Not to defend anyone here, but comparing not standing up to Rush to not standing up to N.Korea is a different thing. Korea doesn’t get to vote. Rush is a far more scary creature to a conservative politician than any mere foreign head of state with nukes.

    What it does signify to me is that none of the GOP candidates has the chops to deal with a difficult situation. I knew this already from the 10,000 debates where I have gotten to hear their amateur hour plans on how to fix the world. If any of these guys were worth their salt they would have seen this as a free opportunity pick up a TON of women voters by basically being gentlemen. They could have been both politically craven AND decent at the same time, but no, they wanted to wait and see how things were going to shake out first. Basically, not the kind of person I want in the Oval Office.

  • Eugene, Eugene, Eugene. Delusional much, or is today special?

    You place a ‘talk-radio buffoon’ on par with Vladimir Putin, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong Eun, the Taliban and what’s left of al-Qaeda??

    Limbaugh cannot impact our trade deficit; military alliances; supply of crude oil; threaten our allies; or engage us in war.

    In the meantime, energy prices at home skyrocket; food prices skyrocket; our nat’l debt skyrockets; intractable unemployment is the norm; fore closures up; building down; homelessness up; record numbers of citizens in poverty.

    Yet, Pres. Divisive takes time to counsel Miss Fluke about the cost of maintenance for her ovaries.

    Miss Fluke is a potted plant, and the kabuki theatre surrounding her is manufactured outrage.

    In short, these candidates are wise to pick their battles – and kabuki theatre.

    ~Priorities.

  • slamfu

    “In the meantime, energy prices at home skyrocket; food prices skyrocket; our nat’l debt skyrockets; intractable unemployment is the norm; fore closures up; building down; homelessness up; record numbers of citizens in poverty.”

    And not one of the GOP candidates has a plan to address any of this. Oil prices are being affected by global demand and the standoff with Iran, not because Obama forgot to wave his magic wand when he woke up this morning. Nat’l debt out of control we can lay much of the blame there are the bush tax cuts, food prices are linked to gas prices, unemployment is not intractable in case you haven’t noticed its going down and has been for some time, foreclosures and homelessness are up because the mortgage banking and financial industries decided to see how far they can game the system since they were deregulated, and those same people via their BS managed to suck somewhere from $4-7 TRILLION out of the economy resulting in the conditions leading to the increase in poverty.

    Again, not one of the GOP has come up with any ideas more effective than what Obama has done. In fact they have universally claimed they will go back to the ideas that got us into this mess into the first place. I will not hand the keys to my new car back to the buffoon that crashed my last one.

  • StockBoyLA

    “Limbaugh cannot impact our trade deficit; military alliances; supply of crude oil; threaten our allies; or engage us in war.”

    I have a different opinion. I think Limbaugh very much impacts these things, as well as the tone of discourse in America.

    Limbaugh has millions of followers who sincerely believe what he says and supports who he supports. This is why the Republican elected officials are so afraid of him. If they get on his bad side they lose millions of votes.

  • RP

    Had Limbaugh done some research and then opened his mouth with an intellegent statement, maybe he would have been listened to.

    Had he related her current position to this one, he might have been able to paint her as being out of the mainstream of politics.

    http://www.medicrelief.com/2012/03/06/sandra-fluke-gender-reassignment-health-insurance-transcript/

  • zephyr

    Excellent point StockBoy, one that is (surprisingly) missed by a lot of people.

    Also, as slamfu says:

    “If any of these guys were worth their salt they would have seen this as a free opportunity pick up a TON of women voters by basically being gentlemen.”

    Yup, they could done themselves a favor, instead they completely blew it.

  • bluebelle

    agree wholeheartedly with stockboy and slamfu–

    The GOP had this one in the bag with the bad economy and huge debt.. Choosing this War against Religious Freedom which turned into a War against Women will prove to be their undoing– It was a monumentally stupid tactic. The Republicans 8 years ago would not have made such a blunder. You can say what you want about Karl Rove and George Bush, but they knew how to make their propaganda stick.

  • rudi

    Not to defend anyone here, but comparing not standing up to Rush to not standing up to N.Korea is a different thing.
    Don’t compare this to North Korea, just look a few years back to 9-11(widows)and Iraq. The PIG slander women who lost loves one in the 9-11 attacks.
    http://www.buzzflash.com/farrell/04/03/far04008.html

    “This is two different women, and they appeared on four networks: CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, and NBC, and they each have three phrases that they use verbatim,” Rush explained. “These were prepared by Democratic campaign consultants. In fact, these women sound like campaign consultants, not grieving family members, and I was reluctant to make this charge; it’s the first thing that crossed my mind. As I say, we’ve now learned all the organizational effort that’s going on behind this and these people are indeed aligned with the Democratic Party. . . ” [RushLimbaugh.com]

    Then there was the Clinton dog – Chelsea.

    It’s a shame, or to our benefit, this man never spawned children…

  • roro80

    “Rush is a far more scary creature to a conservative politician than any mere foreign head of state with nukes. ”

    I’m fairly certain that this is part of the point.

  • davidpsummers

    Well, there is plenty of outrage from the Democrats, but you can’t help but feel they only care to the degree it gains them partisan advantage and that and that, if the shoe was on the other foot, their lack of outrage would match that of the GOP.

    For everyone else… Well, we’ve just heard it all before from both sides (like calling Palin a c*nt). I’m sure that there will be a raft of comments about how Democrats are different (their insults aren’t really insults or something), but I don’t think anyone in the middle buys that anymore.

    In the end, this is nothing more than a partisan struggle over something that substitutes for substance. The issue was whether the government should force free contraceptives but now we are talking about some shock jock has insulted someone. How is that even surprising?

  • slamfu

    Bill Maher is a guy with a show on HBO. Rush has a daily televised radio show that goes out over AM to over ten million people. He uses this time exclusively to go on rants, most of which are based on poorly researched information with Rush filling in the details himself as he goes. How can you say that liberals have a greater presence in this or are worse? That is absurd.

  • slamfu

    Why can’t I edit?

  • StockBoyLA

    Davidpsummers: “For everyone else… Well, we’ve just heard it all before from both sides (like calling Palin a c*nt). I’m sure that there will be a raft of comments about how Democrats are different (their insults aren’t really insults or something), but I don’t think anyone in the middle buys that anymore.”

    I’d like some examples of Democrats calling citizens sluts, etc. to score political points. Please and thank you.

  • roro80

    There’s certainly a difference in degree, and in tenor. For instance, calling someone a c*** or a b**** to put them down, using the terms as sexist ways to say “bad”, is a sexist thing to do, and is not excusable. However, using these or other terms terms to make an actual argument that women a morally corrupt group of hussies, that they shouldn’t be able to make decisions about their bodies, that they are intellectually inferior to men, that their bodies should be public property, that they don’t deserve the healthcare or education or a vote, or that men should get control over them in any way — those are the sticks and stones that Republicans use to break our bones. Democrats don’t generally do that when they use sexual slurs.

  • bluebelle

    One argument that I am totally sick of hearing is “the other side does it too”. Instead of dealing with what is going on right now– that somehow allows the poster to avoid judgment on what is right in front of them.

    OK Maher has a filthy mouth which is why I never watch his show on HBO. If he called Palin a horrible name that is terrible– but that does NOT mean that what Rush did is in any way lessened. I see people all over the internet justifying Limbaugh’s rants with this and all I can say is that everyone should have enough moral courage to condemn this type of behavior every time it happens instead of keeping score.

  • DaGoat

    In the end, this is nothing more than a partisan struggle over something that substitutes for substance.

    Nicely put.

  • davidpsummers

    One argument that I am totally sick of hearing is “the other side does it too”. Instead of dealing with what is going on right now– that somehow allows the poster to avoid judgment on what is right in front of them.

    I don’t have any problem with criticism of Limbaugh. But to answer the question posed by the article, the fact is that the process is just so shallow (each side only cares about what the other side does and really only cares so they can score partisan points) that it is hard to take it seriously. And since each side ignores the side they have influence on (their own side) there is no prospect of it ever changing. And in fact, if you look at blogs on both sides, they are often little more than an attempt to see how much they can find to be outraged about.

    I used to post comments here along the lines of “gee that is bad and both sides should stop doing that sort of thing”. I rarely both anymore. To be honest, I don’t read much here anymore. I just skim the headlines about how evil, or stupid, or whatever Republicans are and read the occasional article with some substance. This one caught my eye because it seemed clear the author was going to post an article that just misses how both parties have made people sick of all this.

  • bluebelle

    David– I really get what you are saying–and the truth is you do notice the opposition’s slurs more than your own side’s (assuming that you are not an independent).. Honestly, I knew that Maher used a lot of profanity and never even realized until recently what he called Palin. And yes, I’ll even admit that, being human– it bothers me less than what Rush said this week. It shouldn’t but it does. Even so, I would condemn it if he said the same thing about her tomorrow.

    But I don’t agree that people only pretend to be outraged to score partisan points..A lot of people were REALLY outraged about Ms. Fluke. The fact that he went on a 3 day rampage about a law school student– not a politician or commentator — but a student -to me was the last straw. Maybe because I have a daughter in college who uses birth control– I don’t know.

    Another very upsetting factor is the way Limbaugh has so much power in the industry that he never has to take any responsibility for trashing another human being.. He just usually ends up getting more listeners from the publicity.. So, this time is different– he went so overboard that I admit to emailing many of his advertisers and complaining to the FCC. It may not hurt him in the long run, but at least his lies were exposed, and he was forced to issue an apology– probably not a sincere one, but an apology nevertheless.

  • EEllis

    not a politician or commentator

    While it neither excuses or justifies what Rush said calling the women a student isn’t an accurate portrayal either. She is a 30 yo activist who campaigned hard to to jump in the middle of a divisive issue on the national stage. This is not some innocent bystander, someone who just happened to be interviewed, or a kid finding themselves in school. All I’m saying is trashing Fluke is no worse, or better, than trashing any public figure. Honestly I’m surprised at the portrayal of Fluke as some victim. Sure it make it worse for Rush, but it diminishes Fluke and what she has gone thru and who she is to score points on the fat guy.

Twitter Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com