So there it is. A prominent Republican has finally said what everyone knows: Republican leaders are afraid of Rush Limbaugh. The speaker: conservative columnist George Will on ABC:
Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh has been inundated with criticism after calling Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown University student who testified before a House committee about contraception, a “slut” and a “prostitute.” But while Democrats have fiercely condemned the comments, Republicans’ ire has been significantly more muted.
ABC’s George Will told me Sunday on “This Week” that GOP leaders have steered clear of harshly denouncing Limbaugh’s comments because “Republican leaders are afraid of Rush Limbaugh.”
“[House Speaker John] Boehner comes out and says Rush’s language was inappropriate. Using the salad fork for your entrée, that’s inappropriate. Not this stuff,” Will said. “And it was depressing because what it indicates is that the Republican leaders are afraid of Rush Limbaugh. They want to bomb Iran, but they’re afraid of Rush Limbaugh.”
ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd said the Republicans’ apprehension to say anything negative about the conservative big hitter is based on the “myth” that Limbaugh influences a large number of Republican voters.
“I think the problem is the Republican leaders, Mitt Romney and the other candidates, don’t have the courage to say what they say in quiet, which, they think Rush Limbaugh is a buffoon,” Dowd said. ”They think he is like a clown coming out of a small car at a circus. It’s great he is entertaining and all that. But nobody takes him seriously.”
And, indeed, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was asked by NBC’s “Meet the Press” host David Gregory about the Limbaugh controversy and Gingrich responded in a typical way: he blamed the news media.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.