With 'Slut' Rant, Rush Limbaugh Has Become GOP's Own Worst Enemy

Rush Limbaugh harms the conservative case against Obama's contraceptive mandate by making it about the evils of birth control.

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Somebody other than the Democrats needs to speak up about Rush Limbaugh, and it might as well be me. There's radio silence on the right—it's as if everyone's hoping if they ignore him he'll go away. Conservative leaders need to make it clear that he doesn't speak for the rest of us. His remarks this week attacking women were inexcusable.

When a Georgetown University Law student named Sandra Fluke testified before an "unofficial" hearing chaired by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on the federal mandate for free contraception coverage, she urged religious institutions to cover birth control pills used for medical purposes. Fluke gave the example of her friend who later lost an ovary after not being able to afford the birth control pills prescribed to keep her ovarian cysts under control, which were not covered by Georgetown's insurance plan.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the Catholic contraception controversy.]

"What does that make her?” Rush Limbaugh said of Fluke on Wednesday, according to the Washington Post. "It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute.”

"She wants to be paid to have sex,” Limbaugh continued. "She's having so much sex she can't afford the contraception.”

On Thursday, Limbaugh continued his diatribe. He echoed remarks made last week by former Sen. Rick Santorum supporter Foster Friess, saying, "I will buy all of the women at Georgetown University as much aspirin to put between their knees as they want." Here's the clincher: "So Miss Fluke and the rest of you feminazis, here's the deal," he said. "If we are going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch."

(Let's leave aside the argument that since most insurance plans cover Viagra, we're already "paying men to have sex." I'm unaware of any women asking for videos so we can watch and get our money's worth. No thanks, guys.) 

[Read the U.S. News debate: Will the Culture Wars Benefit the GOP in the 2012 Election?]

I've defended Limbaugh in the past, but no more. I'm sick and tired of the name-calling, the character assassination, the incivility. There's nothing wrong with being partisan—standing up for what you believe in and convincing others to join your cause. Limbaugh used to be great at that. But what he did this week wasn't partisan. It was over the line. He could have made a reasoned case against Georgetown being forced to cover the cost of the pill, and instead he decided to call women who disagree "sluts." Really?

Has he forgotten that women make up 53 percent of the electorate? He's given the Democratic National Committee it's dream-come-true scenario, allowing them to say the GOP is "waging a war on women." They're circulating petitions and raising money, and the liberal media has jumped on board to help, giving them plenty of free coverage. In advertising terms, you'd say Limbaugh is bad for the brand.

Does he not realize that Republicans had a great constitutional issue that went to the heart of religious freedom and government overreach—an issue that united religious leaders and especially the Catholic vote heading into the fall election? By turning it into a debate about the evils of contraception, he's made sure the right loses the argument.

[Washington Whispers: Congressional Candidate Uses Limbaugh 'Slut' Comment as a Fundraiser]

Is he not aware that when he uses hateful language like this, calling names and questioning people's motives, he drives good people away from politics and disgusts voters? No wonder Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe is retiring because of the incivility in politics; good people see stuff like this and have no interest in going into public service. I've thought for a long time that the reason so many great conservatives are sitting out the presidential race—former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, to name a few—is because they see how ugly national politics is getting and want to take a pass.

Rush Limbaugh has become Republicans' own worst enemy. As Paul Ryan once said, "With friends like these, who needs the left?"

  • Peter Roff: Objections to Obama's Contraceptive Mandate Keep Building
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