“Day 5” – Mar. 3: Rushing down the slippery slope

It didn't work. At least not completely. 

I was supposed to write something new each day, but by Thursday of this week, reality hit. Ah, well. I'll keep plugging along. 

I first heard Rush Limbaugh on the radio in the early 90s, driving across the middle of rural Indiana. Nothing else on the radio out there, somewhere between Lafayette and Gary, and I stumbled onto Limbaugh on Chicago's WLS. He sounded interesting to me, and so I kept listening. Plus, like I said, nothing else was on — at least nothing in range.

Over the years, I continued to listen, even as my own personal views began to skew more toward the right. I found myself agreeing with at least some of his views. 

Flash forward, and Limbaugh became the "mouthpiece" and defacto face of the Republican Party. He became more and more "hated," and he made more and more outlandish statements. He went through his noted drug crisis, his personal medical crisis with his hearing, his extreme weight loss and his faltering stint on Monday Night Football. 

It was only a matter of time before his mouth would get him into trouble once again.

Flash forward again, this time to this past week. After Georgetown University student Sandra Fluke testified in front of a Congressional committee in support of President Obama's controversial rules regarding birth control provisions in the health care law, Limbaugh took to his daily show and on nationwide radio, called Fluke a "slut." He insisted that because she testified about her college's health plan and their lack of a provision for contraceptive coverage, that she was a slut.

“What does it say about the college coed … who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute," Limbaugh said on the show. "She wants to be paid to have sex."

The statement wasn't a "one-off," either. The next day, he teed up and took another swing at the ball.

“If we’re going to have to pay for this, then we want something in return, Ms. Fluke,” Limbaugh said. “And that would be the videos of all this sex posted online so we can see what we’re getting for our money.”

And Limbaugh wasn't finished. On Friday, with everyone still reeling from his statements, and with criticisms of the stance conservatives in general and Limbaugh in particular when it comes to women, Rush took yet another swing at the ball.

“Amazingly, when there is the slightest bit of opposition to this new welfare entitlement being created, then all of a sudden we hate women. We want ‘em barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen,” he said. “And now, at the end of this week, I am the person that the women of America are to fear the most.”

Criticism came from all quarters — from conservatives and liberals alike. Calls for sponsors of his show to pull their advertising increased, and at least six of them heeded those calls by the weekend. Even the White House weighed in against Rush.

By late Saturday, even Limbaugh had to realize he was out of line. He issued a statement of apology on his website.

“For over 20 years, I have illustrated the absurd with absurdity, three hours a day, five days a week,” Limbaugh said in his statement. “In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.”

The words ring hollow in my estimation. 

While I agree with Limbaugh that the federal insurance requirements step well over the line when it comes to businesses governing their insurance policies without intervention and without Big Brother telling them what to do, Limbaugh violates rule number one of positive and effective political discourse — it's possible, and preferable to disagree without being disagreeable.

There was absolutely NO need for him to make the kind of personal insult he did. It was offensive, and as far as I'm concerned, unnecessary. His message would have found more support and encouragement had he found a way to express his displeasure with her statements without resorting to name calling. If anything, it demonstrates a lack of maturity. I expected better than that. I suppose I expected more than he was apparently capable of providing.

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