Rush Limbaugh has four wives, the latest a thirtysomething year old who I’m sure loves him dearly for his extraordinary physique, and not his oceanfront Palm Beach mansion.
He’s also an admitted pill addict who nonetheless insists on lecturing to the rest of the world about matters of morals and human behavior.
Rush and Newt Gingrich share the same blind spot, the inability to connect the dots between their own scandalous private lives and the moralizing they carry on with in public.
This time Limbaugh has gone too far. His assault on a young woman, Sandra Fluke, defending contraceptive rights, when he called her a slut and a prostitute, was so personal that even the most hardcore Rush fans blanched.
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The immediate impact was companies pulling their advertising from his top-rated radio show, and a nationwide move to boycott his program.
Amazingly, it has had the desired effect.
Limbaugh was clearly facing disaster over his comments, and has now rowed back from them in the most humiliating fashion possible for him.
Maureen Dowd, in her column in Sunday’s “New York Times,” asked a key question – does Rush Limbaugh have any shame?
The surprising answer to me and many others, is that he does – especially when his rich livelihood is threatened.
Limbaugh has refused to apologize for so many evil comments in the past that it comes as a seismic shock that he was forced to do so on this occasion.
It is his Joe McCarthy moment, the instance where a U.S. Army officer asked McCarthy at a hearing if he had any shame in blindly accusing so many innocent people of sedition and Communist sympathies.
Limbaugh has now reached that seminal moment himself, and the amazing fact is that Fluke, a 30-year-old Georgetown University law student, utterly unknown until a few days ago, is the person who brought him to his knees.
It was obvious when President Obama called Fluke to sympathize with her that public opinion had begun to flow hugely against Limbaugh.
In the best spirit of American politics, Obama decided to kick Limbaugh while he was down, and succeeded in extending the crisis by his call to Fluke.
It was a masterful stroke, and the exact opposite of that pander bear, Mitt Romney, who when asked about Limbaugh’s comments said he merely felt that Rush used a poor choice of words.
A poor choice indeed, and one that will haunt Limbaugh for the foreseeable future.
Finally the dragon has been bearded in his den, and Limbaugh may not recover from this blow.
If that is the end result, and a more civil discourse begins in American politics, this will be a great development.
Limbaugh has been humbled, but whether he is defeated remains to be seen.
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