Who’s Afraid of Mr. Nice Guy?
By Jolene Pohl
I am sure that Mr. Rush Limbaugh is a nice guy who opens doors for elderly folks, eats with the proper utensils and maybe he even gets his own mail. His life doesn’t affect mine in any way and he certainly has no connection to my family or friends. His ill behavior is his own making, just like with anyone else. This is a country full of people who are free to express themselves however they choose. I afford everyone the chance in life to portray themselves in whichever light they make, but I get the feeling Mr. Limbaugh doesn’t feel the same way about me. So now I am forced to type out a few paragraphs about his ill behavior.
An apology from someone like Limbaugh, who continually makes illogical and slanderous statements, is meaningless. His comments aren’t going to ruin Sandra Fluke’s life or any other woman’s life, yet he was pushed to apologize. Was his apology made in an effort to keep his supporting audience happy? If the listeners (apparently enough supporters to buy him a gold plated microphone) have been willing to support the racist, sexist, homophobic and xenophobic commentary thus far, what difference would an apology make to this particular demographic? Limbaugh certainly was not going to win the hearts of new listeners who disagreed with his skewed logic. Therefore, that leaves us to imagine that the advertisers who have recently abandoned his program were actually pretty integral to his show. Like any good capitalist, Limbaugh must follow the money, even if it means he must humble himself, even lower himself, to apologizing for his unfettered misogyny. This is where it gets interesting in terms of dissecting why advertisers suddenly jumped this poorly maintained ship.
It occurred to me that the amount of attention the Sandra Fluke comments received was a great deal more than other insidious comments made by Limbaugh in the past. Where was the outcry for advertisers to leave when Limbaugh degraded minority women, including First Lady Michelle Obama, or when he defended the right to keep marriage away from same sex couples in California? Surely these Americans deserve the same attention in defense of their right to exist as Sandra Fluke does, but only now has the public been able to motivate a mass exodus of dollars. It seems Limbaugh struck a nerve when he attacked a white female law student who was speaking on behalf of reproductive rights, not the right to get federal funding for reproductive products as the public has been misled to believe. She spoke out for women whose simple request was to be given equal opportunity. This is the line Limbaugh crossed, which in turn prevented any further defense of his position. The Grand Old Party seems to have a perplexing situation now that one of their most loyal advocates has become encumbered in a mess of his own making.
It is pretty amazing that this man, who has no real effect on my daily life, has somehow changed the behavior of half of the Republican Party. Even those who say they don’t care about him still have to come up with some sort of reply about his position against women’s rights to health care. So I guess he does play a part in my life. I am amused watching Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum dance around the details of Limbaugh’s exile, which is ironic considering each candidate touts the capitalist mantra so eloquently. If they don’t approve of his comments then what is the harm in stating so? Obviously capitalism has worked in this situation, and they should be more than happy to highlight its achievement. Yet they remain silent. It may have something to do with the similar stance they take on women’s right to contraception. Santorum has clearly stated his disregard for the purpose of contraception, so condemning Limbaugh would be a bit contradictory. Both candidates may think a “duck and run” strategy is the best way to avoid the Limbaugh fiasco, but the interpretation by some women is that they have no supporters in the Republican Party. The GOP truly is a good ol’ boys club. This is a harsh reality that is just beginning to sink in with Republican women. Even Sarah Palin is beginning to get the message.
When Limbaugh leaves his golden microphone behind, there will be another loudmouth self-righteous jerk to follow in his giant footsteps, I have no doubt. The energy wasted on condemning his predictable actions could be spent on focusing on the overwhelming distaste by our Congress to support women’s equal rights to access affordable healthcare. There are stirrings of grassroots action taking place, but as long as the public keeps its fingers pointed at Limbaugh and other over-blown gas bags like him, nothing will change for women. As Sandra Fluke discussed when she was asked to present her testimony to the Democrats on Capitol Hill, there are real women suffering right now. She was motivated to speak on their behalf because they have lost their faith in the belief that we all have a right to be heard. Her young friends who lost their ability to have their own babies, who didn’t receive treatment after being raped, who almost died because their access to reproductive care was blocked, are the reasons she stood before Congress. Standing up against such preventable atrocities is my reason too. Limbaugh means nothing to me. Ending the suffering of women means everything.
Jolene Pohl is a dedicated Dayton democrat volunteer/activist and a WSU grad student. Her favorite past-times include banter, debate and laughing out loud. She can be reached at JolenePohl@DaytonCityPaper.com.