Rush to Judgment

Mike Luckovich crafted a real winner in his Wednesday a.m. AJC cartoon mocking the loud, perpetually pissed off  Rush Limbaugh: a poster of the radio talk jock on the bedroom wall of a couple as the perfect contraceptive.

The drawing captures the essence of Limbaugh’s shtick on the radio, and how he comes across to me as a person – fat jowls, a cavernous open mouth, mean, slitted eyes. He sounds so angry, sometimes  I halfway expect his head to explode, soiling the studio carpet.

Since that hasn’t happened in over 20 some years, I suspect his radio rants are in part just that, an act. It must work, since it’s made the loudmouth millions.

But Limbaugh  gave as revealing a peek at his soul in a three-day tirade over Georgetown University grad student and birth control activist Sandra Fluke, who touted her pitch for public funding of same, including abortion, at a gathering (outside of Congress) arranged by Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi.

Professing outrage at the suggestion that taxpayers’ hard earned money (especially his, I’m sure) would be squandered on Bolshevik social programs and undeserving refuse in the general public, Limbaugh mocked Fluke as a “slut” and “prostitute”. He’d never heard of her, never laid eyes on her, and here he was, calling her by words that, when I was growing up, would have gotten him pounded to a pulp by her brothers or her boyfriend.

I suspect his lawyers and most trusted associates, including some top broadcasting executives, told him something like “you really stepped in it this time, Rush. You’re gonna have to do something.”

I’m sure it stuck in his craw, and had him fuming at the pit of his large stomach, but what he did was apologize. Three days later. As apologies go, it was pretty anemic, if a tiny bit stronger than the “If I’ve offended anybody, I’m sorry” variety. And equally unconvincing.

As an AJC reporter for nearly four  decades,  I covered scores of apologies like that , virtually all of them from politicians and other public figures.

Limbaugh claimed having an intense and unconvincing concern that in “these serious times”, taxpayers should not have to pay for “personal sexual recreational activities”, nor should Congress even consider the subject. What’s next? Should  Congress fund sneakers for college students who run to stay fit?

Yeah, right. It was his question, not mine.

He was only trying to be funny, said the terminally unfunny talk jock, and “my choice of words was not the best…I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.”

Slut? Prostitute? Only insulting? How ’bout defamatory? I’m no lawyer, but I’ve seen lawsuits over milder language. But  I’m sure Limbaugh would tell me: “Some people are really thin-skinned. Can’t they take a joke?”

It’s just my opinion, Rush, but you’re the joke.

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Cartoon by Ian D. Marsden of marsdencartoons.com via Wikimedia Commons, used with Creative Commons 2.0 License.
Bill Montgomery

Bill Montgomery

Bill Montgomery, aka "Monty," packed it in a few years back after 38 years as a reporter with the AJC, covering mostly crime and other forms of public insanity, such as political campaigns, strip club crackdowns, and the Georgia legislature. His career includes coverage of zanies that run the gamut from Lester Maddox and J.B. Stoner to Larry Flynt, and crime reporting that followed the 1973 Alday family killings in South Georgia to the execution of ringleader Carl Isaacs 30 years later, and the 20-year saga of Palm Beach millionaire James V. Sullivan, who hired the murder of his estranged wife at her Buckhead condo by a gunman packing a pistol in a box of roses. Montgomery lives in a Decatur condo with his wife Linda and their Boston terrier.