Rush Limbaugh has apologized to Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke for calling her a “slut,” “prostitute” and “round-heeled” because she had the audacity to lobby for contraception being included in her health-care package.
Here’s what he said about her on his radio show, which is the most popular conservative radio show on the air and draws an estimated 14.5 million listeners:
“Can you imagine, if you were her parents, how proud…you would be? Your daughter…testifies she’s having so much sex she can’t afford her own birth control pills and she wants President Obama to provide them, or the pope...
“What does it say?” he continued, “about the college co-ed, Susan [sic] Fluke who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex—what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex....”
And then: “Okay, so she’s not a slut. She’s round-heeled. I take it back.”
Here is his apology, which came three days later after several of his sponsors had cancelled ads on his show:
“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.”
This is what is called, in the apology/forgiveness biz, as a non-apology-apology.
Is there anyone alive who believes this apology from a man who is paid up to $50 million a year to make slurs and “insulting word choices?”
On his show Monday he had another chance, and said he felt “very badly” because he had “used those two words.”
“I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for using those two words to describe her. The apology to her over the weekend was sincere. It was simply for using inappropriate words.”
Does anyone really believe he is truly sorry?
Of course he’s not. He’s thrilled out of his mind. He’s done it again. He’s gotten a rise out of what Newt Gingrich calls the “elite media,” endless press attention and probably more listeners. If he’s sorry about anything it’s loss of advertisers which I assume he will get back or replace as soon as the dust settles. You don’t advertise on his show unless you know what you’re getting. Approximately 80 percent of his audience is conservative.
The headline on an article in the New York Times by Maureen Dowd said: “Have you No Shame, Rush?”
I pose another question. This one to his audience: Have you no shame for listening to this man’s grotesque rants?
Without you, he wouldn’t have the platform. Do you really believe that any woman who is unmarried and wants birth control included in her health-care plan is a slut, a prostitute or round-heeled? Would this include yourself, your daughters, your female family members? Let’s not forget that 99 percent of all women in this country have used birth control. If Limbaugh has anywhere near the audience he is said to have, that would mean that an awful lot of those female listeners, from his point of view, are sluts, prostitutes or round-heeled. Would they define themselves that way?
How would he feel if his wife were referred to by a liberal media pundit as a slut, prostitute, or round-heeled? Would he think it was a laugh riot?
Who are his listeners anyway? What do they think of his description of Sandra Fluke? Do they think it’s funny? Do they agree with him? Do they pray? If so, for whom? For Fluke? For Limbaugh? For themselves? Are they ashamed for listening to him saying such un-Christian things about others?
An apology should be an expression of sincere regret for an offense given. It requires the apologist to name the offense. Often, it is accompanied by a request for forgiveness. Here’s what doesn’t work: “My choice of words was not the best and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir. “ That falls into the category of “I’m sorry if I offended you.”
Wrong, wrong wrong.
Here’s a real apology: “The words I used were vile and reprehensible. There is no excuse for having said what I did. There are no words I can use to express my sincere regret for having caused you pain and embarrassment. I can only hope that you will find it in your heart to forgive me. I promise I will never speak in such heinous and degrading terms about a woman again. “
Don’t hold your breath.
Ron Paul got it right: “I don’t think he’s very apologetic,” he said on Face the Nation on Sunday. “He’s doing it because some people were taking their advertisements off his program. It was his bottom line that he was concerned about. Yes. I think he should have apologized. I had said he used very crude language. And I think he gets over the top at times.”
There was no way Newt Gingrich was going to take on his good buddy, Limbaugh. Giving short shrift to the Rush affair just in case Limbaugh might have offended some of his potential voters, Gingrich brushed it off with this. “I think he was right to apologize.” Then he quickly moved on to his real concern: “But let’s talk about apologies for a second. I think the president was totally wrong as commander in chief to apologize to religious fanatics while our young men are being killed in Afghanistan. I think it was a disaster of an apology.” He couldn’t leave the elite media out. “I am astounded at the desperation of the elite me...to suddenly decide that Rush Limbaugh is the great national crisis of this week.”
Rick Santorum remarked that Limbaugh‘s comments were “absurd” (that’s it?) but it was okay because he was “an entertainer.”
Mitt Romney, went way out on a limb: “I’ll just say this, which is, it’s not the language I would have used.”
As Obama campaign advisor David Axelrod tweeted: “Wow. Profiles in courage.”
Except for the Pauls, where were these guys’ wives? I can’t believe that Ann Romney could let her husband ignore this episode. Would it really cost him that many votes to say that it was reprehensible for Limbaugh to make those remarks about a young female law student?
If I were a voter on Super Tuesday, the candidate reactions to this episode would influence my vote.
Gingrich may jest about how Limbaugh is becoming the big crisis of the week. But he is. And this says much about how society still views over half of the population that Limbaugh could command the kind of salary, audience and respect that he does, even to the point of intimidating men who might well one day be president of the United States.
Speaking of the president, he stepped up to the plate, calling Fluke to see if she was okay after the Limbaugh attack and telling her that her parents should be proud of her.
The real hero in this mess was Georgetown President John DeGioia. Though Fluke was at odds with her school administration on this issue, DeGioia said, “She provided a model of civil discourse. This expression of conscience was in the tradition of the deepest values we share as a people. One need not agree with her substantive position to support her right to respectful free expression.”
Why is it that John DeGioia is not the one with millions of listeners and a salary in the millions? With his courage and decency, this country would be a much better place.
And there would be far fewer apologies.
Sally Quinn | Mar 5, 2012 2:33 PM