The Watcher Cat

The Watcher Cat

Monday, March 5, 2012

Limbaugh's Lachrymose Limping

So, Rush Limbaugh's defenders have been claiming that a double standard is at play in the reaction to his vicious tirades against Sandra Fluke, because the firestorm he is facing is much worse than that faced by Ed Schultz when he called Laura Ingraham a "right-wing slut."

Schultz's misogynistic slur of Ingraham was indefensible. MSNBC would have been in the right had it chosen to fire him, However, to conflate Schultz's slur with Limbaugh's presumes an equivalence in the offense and in the displayed contrition which is simply not the case. First, the offenses. Here is Ed Schultz:

Again, this is indefensible. However, it happened once. Limbaugh, by contrast, repeated variations of his attack on law student Sandra Fluke over a three day period, scoring a whopping fifty-three iterations. Here, watch all 53 of them for yourself:

So, bad as Schultz's offense was--and it was plenty bad--Limbaugh's is of another order of magnitude.

As to contrition, the same would apply. Here's Ed Schultz's apology:

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Say what you like, that's a pretty full-throated, unequivocal apology, one which acknowledges the depth of the offense, and in no way tries to minimize it. It was Ingraham's right to choose whether to accept or reject it, and MSNBC's right to determine whether it was sufficient.

Here's Rush Limbaugh's first apology:
For over 20 years, I have illustrated the absurd with absurdity, three hours a day, five days a week. In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.
I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress. I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities. What happened to personal responsibility and accountability? Where do we draw the line? If this is accepted as the norm, what will follow? Will we be debating if taxpayers should pay for new sneakers for all students that are interested in running to keep fit?In my monologue, I posited that it is not our business whatsoever to know what is going on in anyone's bedroom nor do I think it is a topic that should reach a Presidential level.

My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir. I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.
Well, not exactly true, is it? It wasn't, as demonstrated by the above video, merely "not the best choice of words," nor was it a single analogy. Moreover, Limbaugh's contention that Ms. Fluke wanted the taxpayer to pay for her contraception is wildly inaccurate. As Ms. Fluke's testimony makes clear, she was opposing the creation of an exemption of employers and universities from the regulations under the Affordable Care Act which would include contraception within the mandatory scope of coverage. Here, see for yourself:

Now, Ms. Fluke, as a Georgetown University Law School student is "eligible and required to enroll in the most comprehensive student injury and sickness plan offered through the University, unless [her] other insurance coverage meets specific University requirements." As the site makes clear, "A charge for this Premier Plan is placed on eligible students' accounts, per their registration status referenced above, once per Academic Year," unless they have appropriate coverage and elect to waive it. So, who is paying for Ms. Fluke's medical coverage? Ms. Fluke. She was opposing both the Blunt-Rubio bill to allow any and all employers to limit insurance coverage based on moral reservations, and specifically the efforts of the USCCB to secure an exemption for Catholic universities and similar entities to contour Ms. Fluke's and her fellow students' legally prescribed coverage to its religious beliefs. You may think she is wrong as a matter of public policy (I do not; As I have previously pointed out, the Supreme Court held as long ago as 1879 that "[t]o permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself. Government could exist only in name under such circumstances). However, even if you disagree with her, Ms. Fluke is due the elementary justice of acknowledging that she is arguing that her insurance payments to Georgetown should buy as much coverage as if she were not attending a Catholic University, consistent with Supreme Court case law from 1879 through the present.

As to Limbaugh's on-air apology, he apologized for the use of the "two words" slut and prostitute "to describe her [Ms. Fluke]. I do not think she is either of these two words":

Now, I agree that this is somewhat better--although he later, in typical fashion, claimed that his offense was that he acted like Democrats, saying "[a]gainst my own instincts, against my own knowledge, against everything I know to be right and wrong, I descended to their level when I used those two words to describe Sandra Fluke. That was my error. I became like them." Limbaugh's offense was not, of course, limited to two words; 53 slurs over three days is not a "heat of battle" mistake. Nor does his blaming the Democrats make any sense--Schultz's offense was egregious, I agree, but hardly comparable, and, in any event, Limbaugh should own his own mistakes, period.

Limbaugh has, as of this writing, lost 13 sponsors and 1 radio station. It's hard to muster any sympathy for him.

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