My Slate colleagues report on Rush Limbaugh's apology for calling the law student and reproductive rights activist Sandra Fluke a "slut," a basically unheard of occurence that ended a week of accidental Republican pain. Here's how Limbaugh apologized -- on his website, not on the radio.
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.
Clever: He limits the offense to Fluke herself. She was, for want of a less-loaded term, a pawn -- the issue that Democrats wanted to embarass the Republicans with was birth control itself.
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.
Hang on. In his segue way from apologizing to Fluke to not apologizing for the idea, he says that fellow citizens should stay away from obsessing over each others' sex lives? That's amusing, because it isn't how Limbaugh talked about Anthony Weiner or Bill Clinton, and it's a great diversion, too. It's the feminists (or "feminazis," if you're a purist) who want to obsess over sex lives and contraception! The Republican position -- allowing employers to deny contraception coverage, if they wish -- is now the neutral position. Anything else is meddling.
I was a skeptic on Limbaughpocalypse, because it was such an engineered story. Limbaugh says lots of controversial things; Republican candidates for president are not asked to comment on all of them. It was only a legitimate question insofar as it asked why Republicans were alright with taking birth control coverage out of health care plans. And what did they say about it?
Romney: "I'll just say this, which is, it’s not the language I would have used."
Gingrich: "I am astonished at the desperation of the elite media to avoid rising gas prices, to avoid the President's apology to religious fanatics in Afghanistan, to avoid a trillion dollar deficit, to avoid the longest period of unemployment since the Great Depression, and to suddenly decide that Rush Limbaugh is the great national crisis of this week." [Ed -- Gingrich attacking the media? Unheard of.]
Paul: "I had said he used very crude language, and I think he gets over the top at times. But it’s in his best interest. That’s why he did it. I don’t think he’s very apologetic. He’s doing it because some people were taking advertisements off his program. It was the bottom line that he was concerned about."
Santorum: "He's being absurd. But that's, you know, an entertainer can be absurd. And -- and he's taking the absurd, you know, the asurd -- absurd, you know, sort of, you know, point of view here as to how -- how far do you go? And, look, he's in a very different business than I am. I'm concerned about the public policy of this president imposing his values on the people on people of faith who morally object to -- to the government telling them they have to do something which they believe is a grave moral wrong."
Nobody actually disagreed with Limbaugh's point! This was a cul-de-sac, trapping the candidates and teaching us only that, indeed, they held the positions they said they held.