Monday, March 5, 2012

Rush Limbaugh and the Death Spiral of Incivility

Politico Arena Topic: Has the 'War on Women' Gone Too Far?

Rush Limbaugh crossed the line last week with his offensive statements about Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown Law Student and Democratic activist. But crossing the line is nothing new for Limbaugh—he has a long and sordid history of attacking women, minorities, and Democrats. The guy is a school yard bully with a large megaphone.

I am heartened by the fact that many of his advertisers have pulled their ads—they clearly saw Limbaugh’s venom affecting their bottom line. Some like Carbonite CEO David Friend saw the moral debauchery in Limbaugh’s comments noting that Limbaughoverstepped any reasonable bounds of decency.” However, I am disappointed but not surprised that so many of Limbaugh’s fellow conservative commentators have not only stood by his side, but have chosen to follow Limbaugh’s lead in attacking Ms. Fluke and women in general.

And where has the Republican Party been? Some, like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), have belatedly criticized Limbaugh’s comments, but GOP lawmakers are not exactly sprinting to the microphone to publicly repudiate him. As George Will said Sunday on This Week, “Republican leaders are afraid of Rush Limbaugh. They want to bomb Iran,but they’re afraid of Rush Limbaugh.” To top it off, we get Mitt Romney, the GOP presidential front runner, who gives Americans a half-hearted—“it’s not the language I would have used”—in discussing Limbaugh’s discourse. (So what language would he have used? Harlot? Strumpet?) What a tremendous missed opportunity. Romney could have demonstrated his moral backbone by publicly smacking Limbaugh. But Romney, like many in the GOP, are simply afraid of offending Limbaugh’s mythical audience or being on the receiving end of Limbaugh’s future tirades.

Perhaps what is most disheartening is this episode demonstrates once again that our politics are gripped by an ugliness and mean-spiritedness that pushes the bounds of basic decency. As a country, we seem to be in a death-spiral of incivility that wounds the body politic and makes it increasingly difficult for our institutions to govern. Politicos and members of the media across the ideological spectrum will need to publicly and forcefully repudiate the destructive speech of personalities like Rush Limbaugh in the future if we are ever, as a country, to escape the spiral.

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Anonymous said...

rush limbaugh should be banned from the airways for the humiliation of our american women,i will not support any sponsor of his show he spoke this morning with so much arrogance that it was sickening,the apology he gave to miss fluke meant nothing to him,his supporters are all leaving him and he deserves this treatment good riddance mr limbaugh

JLM said...

Any GOP figure who, in the past, has criticized or found some fault with Limbaugh has, a short time later, had to apologize or retract their statement. They are afraid of an ex-disc jockey who has found an on air gimmick that makes money. Sad state of affairs.

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