In the following clip, I was particularly intrigued with the observations of Michelle Bernard, a woman prominent in conservative and independent politics, a woman of color, and as she notes here - a graduate of the same Georgetown University Law School attended by Ms. Fluke. Ms. Bernard has had both public and private interactions with Limbaugh which apply to this controversy. Those comments occur approximately 7 minutes into this clip, but watch the lead in as well to those 7 minutes; it is well worth it.
It is not only the conservative Ms. Bernard who makes the observations about Limbaugh as enforcer; similar observations have come from a variety of conservative pundits, like this interview with George Will:
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.”Limbaugh doesn't appear to be the only one that Romney has on a Bain-owned leash; Hannity and the disgraced Glenn Beck are on the same radio shows roster. While Romney's holdings are operated by a blind trust, it is no secret that approx. 45% of his holdings are Bain Capital.
“[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.”
The latest efforts to be a surrogate, and to be an enforcer have appeared to backfire, if the intent was to create a controversy that would energize the base for Romney and the GOP. Advertisers are departing, and continuing to suspend their business, in some cases terminating business, despite the non-apology apology.
The wording between Romney and Limbaugh has been similar; that they woulda coulda shoulda used different words. It was not only the choice of words that is the problem; it was the intent, it was the concept, it was the entire position.
Sandra Fluke spoke about contraception used for non-contraceptive therapeutic use. She spoke about a woman who needed it in order to preserve her remaining ovary due to an ovarian condition, a disease. The woman in question who needed but could not afford contraceptive therapy for that condition is gay; I do not know as of this writing if she is married or not. Ms. Fluke did not assert that she was seeking contraception coverage for her own sexual activity, or indeed for any one's sexual activity specifically. She wanted an important form of medication to be available to students who needed it. What Limbaugh said was a gross misrepresentation of fact, and how he said it was an extremely offensive personal attack. That the attack came from a man who appears to have been a Dominican Republic sex tourist, stopped with an unusually large amount of Viagra by Homeland Security in 2006, which you can read about here. The Dominican Republic is notorious not only for its sexual tourism, but specifically for the availability and sexploitation of underage girls.
In that context, I found Limbaugh's observations about underage girls and sex that he made on March 1, 2012 particularly disturbing:
"Who bought your condoms in junior high? Who bought your condoms in the sixth grade? Or your contraception. Who bought your contraceptive pills in high school?"
So not only do we have a leap that a young woman who is seeking hormone therapy to help her friend save her ovaries from disease, pain, and expensive surgery; not only do we have an unfounded leap that this woman is sexually promiscuous; we have Limbaugh publicly asserting that this woman has been sexually active since she was 11 or 12 years old. But he would have us believe this is not a personal attack on her, or that it is not an attack on girls and women? He wants us to believe that this was......some kind of attempted humor, and that he is the real victim here? NO. NO WAY. HELL NO.
The right would have us believe there is no 'culture war on women'; the evidence that there is very much a war on women is to overwhelming for that denial to be credible. The right would have us believe this is a ploy by the left to shift attention away from the economy-----except that the topic has been brought up, consistently, by the right, not the left. The economic news is largely better for the policies of the left than the right; no way that the left wants to change the subject now. These are 'spaghetti' arguments; throw half-cooked ideas at the public, like a wall, and see what sticks. NOTHING ABOUT THE APOLOGY FROM LIMBAUGH HAS BEEN CREDIBLE OR PERSUASIVE. Even Limbaugh's fellow conservatives are not buying it, and his advertisers continue to leave him, one after the other, despite his crappy non-apology apology.
But there was more that was offensive, more that exceeds, by vast distances, the notion of a mere bad choice of words' line of crap from both Romney and Limbaugh. From the wikipedia article on the Limbaugh Fluke controversy - and yes, there IS one :
He continued that Fluke is "having so much sex, it's amazing she can still walk".Seriously, THIS from the man who was engaging in apparent sexual tourism with huge quantities of Viagra, in a third world country noted for underage prostitutes?
He also said Georgetown should establish a "Wilt Chamberlain scholarship ... exclusively for women". He described Fluke as "a woman who is happily presenting herself as an immoral, baseless, no-purpose-to-her life woman. She wants all the sex in the world whenever she wants it, all the time, no consequences. No responsibility for her behavior."Using her name so very frequently, with the false but very explicit statements that he does, that IS a personal attack. It is the kind of attack, the specific use of sexual language that women recognize as a very specific form of intimidation, one that often goes with sexual harassment when it occurs in the work place. It is nearly always something that the abuser, the harasser tries to pass off as just a little humor, in order to excuse his conduct. Excusing one's conduct is not taking responsibility for that conduct, and in any apology, it negates that apology. Effectively it says, 'I'm sorry for what I did wrong, except that I'm not sorry, and what I did was not wrong, and you're bad for making me the victim of what I did that wasn't wrong."
Limbaugh continued with his very personal attack on Ms. Fluke with factually inaccurate and not funny comments claiming rampant promiscuity, like these (again from the wikipedia article):
On March 3, 2012, Limbaugh defended his previous comments about Fluke and complained that "not one person says that, 'Well, did you ever think about maybe backing off the amount of sex that you have?". Limbaugh said that requiring insurance companies to cover contraception is "no different than if somebody knocked on my door that I don't know and said, 'You know what? I'm out of money. I can't afford birth-control pills, and I'm supposed to have sex with three guys tonight.' "And we are supposed to believe that Limbaugh ISN'T the person projecting HIS OWN sexual proclivities here? It is his mind, not Sandra Fluke's, that went in this direction.
As of this writing, some nine advertisers have left Limbaugh, and others are considering doing so. We can only hope all of the advertisers have the sense to do so, the decency to do so, and are more skeptical of these statements that are not political humor, and are very much an attack on an individual of the worst kind, and an attack on the residents of this country who are female as well. Limbaugh promotes the worst women-as-subordinate women-as-sexual conquest-for-exploitation view. He does so, because there is a segment of his base that thinks the same way, and there are far too many others among the Limbaugh audience who do not object, or do not object much to that world view. While Limbaugh may have miscalculated - or maybe not - he was correct that there was an audience among his listeners to whom he directed the rants, Rush fans who DID go on record in agreement with those statements, as fact, as political ideology, NOT as humor. Those were the people to whom Limbaugh was pandering, and those are the people among the conservative base to whom all of the candidates are pandering. So were these. This is the basis, the world view, the ideology for the right wing attack on women, on feminists, on gender and sexual equality. This is the pro-perversion segment of the ultra-conservative right. It is not by any stretch all conservatives; but it is an accurate characterization of many more than the ones who are open and vocal.
But it is not only Limbaugh and his radio show and his advertisers who should be held accountable; Romney and his buddies at Bain, through their ownership of Clear Channel, are the ones who have profited by this, not just Limbaugh. They have made money, and one could argue that they have made REPEATED political use - political capital - out of Limbaugh and the other extremists in their employ who are the sock puppets for their ventriloquism. This is an ideology that is reactionary, this is an ideology that is attempting to reverse the gender and racial equality of the past century, this is an ideology of hatred.
We need to call it what it is; we need to recognize it when we see it in the public square of politics, and most of all we need to identify and oppose the mechanism by which it works. We do all of those things when we make the connections between the parties involved, and the working of the money flow and the power dynamic instead of regarding these events with only superficial understanding.
It is time for Limbaugh to be as 'over' as his colleague Glenn Beck. Hannity and O'Reilly shouldn't be far behind in their departures to obscurity. The line should form, appropriately, to the right for all the other right wing media hate mongers. The exodus and the impetus needs to begin with the advertisers, continue with their audience, and end with those who made money from this ideology enforcement and surrogate speech repudiating the talking heads, emphatically, not sorta-kinda-maybe-justa-little.