Sometimes you want to be careful to not be a “bird of a feather” with someone who is toxic. Newt Gingrich seems to have failed to get that message as he came to the defense of Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh went overboard, even for himself, on February 29, when he called Georgetown University Law student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute” because she advocated the university including contraception in its health insurance program. Rush got in trouble because he seems to have trouble understanding that, just because a woman takes a birth control bill every day, does not mean that she has sex every day, or for that matter any day. Newt then came to his defense, blaming the whole fiasco on who else but President Obama.
So President Obama, who has been faithfully married to his wife, Michelle, for twenty years, was the target of their judgment on relationships. This came from Rush Limbaugh, who has been married four times, and Newt Gingrich who has been married three times. Is there something odd about them presenting themselves as paragons of virtue?
In the way of background, the issue of contraception has not been settled for many Republicans. Following President Obama’s announced policies to have the insurance company provide coverage for churches and other houses of worship, Republicans figured that they had a hot political issue, because fully 2% of women in the U.S. have never used contraception.
Darrell Issa (R-CA), the wealthiest member of Congress, thought that the issue was so important that he immediately called for a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that he chairs. His goal was to better inform committee members on the president’s policy. He forgot something, perhaps not too important to him, but he excluded 51% of the nation’s population. His panel of five experts included no women.
Female members of the committee as well as most men were outraged at what was either Issa’s oversight or his intentional lack of sensitivity. As might be expected and certainly justified, House Democrats walked out of the hearing because of its one-sidedness, but only after several Democratic congresswomen were able to point out the absurdity of the situation.
Things happened rather quickly after that. Sandra Fluke, Co-President of the Georgetown Law Chapter at law Students for Reproductive Justice, was one of the women who House Democrats had wanted Issa to have testify. He refused. Democrats then held their own hearing and she was the primary witness.
She described how contraceptive coverage is not available through Georgetown University’s health insurance program because the Catholic Church is opposed to most common forms of birth control. She elaborated; the out-of-pocket cost of one year’s supply of birth control pills is approximately $1,000.
This is where Rush went off his wide-ranging reservation to the point where over one hundred forty corporate sponsors have withdrawn their support of his syndicated radio program, leaving the program with a lot of “dead air” as well as hot air. Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute.” He called for her to make sex tapes and post them online. Essentially what he said is that because she was talking the precaution of utilizing birth control pills, she was an immoral woman.
Much to his credit, President Barack Obama called Ms. Fluke and expressed his support for her bravery. He indicated that her parents must be quite proud of her. This was most important to her because her opponents had indicated that she was a disgrace to them.
In comes former House Speaker and presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich. A man with an extensive vocabulary, he seems to have difficulty knowing the meaning of “victim.” In his mind, Limbaugh was the victim. Gingrich said:
HAMILTON, Ohio – Newt Gingrich on Saturday used the flap over Rush Limbaugh’s controversial denunciations of birth-control advocate Sandra Fluke as a way to attack President Obama for acting “opportunistically” when he called the Georgetown University law student to express his disappointment over Limbaugh’s comments.
After Limbaugh described Fluke as “slut” and “prostitute” for advocating for subsidizing birth control, Obama contacted Fluke personally. Numerous conservatives and other GOP presidential candidates have rebuked Limbaugh to varying degrees, but the former House speaker said he saw the issue much differently.
“I think the president will opportunistically do anything he can,” Gingrich said in response to a reporter’s question after a rally Saturday morning in Hamilton. “I think the most important use of language in the last week has been the president’s apology to religious fanatics, and I want to stay focused on what the president has said, and I think what he said was inexcusable and is exactly the wrong policy at a time of life and death, and playing political games is irrelevant as far as I’m concerned.”
But with Rush’s advertising fleeing, the “king of gab” issued an apology, or kind of an apology. This is unusual for him. However, of the 192 words in the apology, 118 were a defense of his position. His apology was only for “word choices,” not for insulting Ms. Fluke’s integrity.
The value and validity of someone’s words are often a function of their own credibility. Where your record is significantly flawed, it is best to not judge others. Neither Rush Limbaugh nor Newt Gingrich seem to understand that on the basis of seven wives and six divorces (some very messy), they might best remain silent to issues about relationships. Perhaps their faux pas in this case would be excusable if they were isolated. But both voices of the right seem to have also failed to learn the meaning of the word “hypocrisy.” Now it is up to more American people to recognize hypocrisy when they hear it. Maybe five sponsors bolting Rush’s show will provide a little bit of a hint.