Although many of his listeners don’t appreciate the significance of this nuance, Rush Limbaugh freely admits that he’s an entertainer first. As he explains it, he has to keep his audience entertained and engaged, or they will change channels and not return. He’s right. To provoke and entice his listeners, Rush uses hyperbole and grandiose statements, and it works. His audience is huge. Day after day, they keep coming back to hear Rush’s take on the issues of the day.
It should come as no surprise that Rush picked up on the importance of Sandra Fluke’s testimony before Congress. She wants Georgetown University to pay for her contraceptives as a part of the school’s student health care plan. But Georgetown is a Catholic university, and the Catholic Church is against the use of contraceptives. According to Fluke, she spends about $1,000 a year on contraceptives. She says that she can’t afford to pay that much and she wants Georgetown to abandon its longstanding traditions and the policies of the Catholic Church and pick up her bill.
Fluke is the archetypical feminazi that Rush and his listeners love to hate. On his radio show, Rush called her a “slut” and a “prostitute.” Did he go too far? Maybe, but there is more to this story than meets the eye. Sandra Fluke isn’t just a third-year law student at Georgetown University. According to a post on the blog Jammie Wearing Fools,
For me the interesting part of the story is the ever-evolving “coed”. I put that in quotes because in the beginning she was described as a Georgetown law student. It was then revealed that prior to attending Georgetown she was an active women’s right advocate. In one of her first interviews she is quoted as talking about how she reviewed Georgetown’s insurance policy prior to committing to attend, and seeing that it didn’t cover contraceptive services, she decided to attend with the express purpose of battling this policy. During this time, she was described as a 23-year-old coed. Magically, at the same time Congress is debating the forced coverage of contraception, she appears and is even brought to Capitol Hill to testify. This morning, in an interview with Matt Lauer on the Today show, it was revealed that she is 30 years old, NOT the 23 that had been reported all along.
In other words, folks, you are being played. She has been an activist all along and the Dems were just waiting for the appropriate time to play her.
While she is described as a “third year law student” they always fail to mention that she is also the past president of Law Students for Reproductive Justice.
Fluke has succeeded beyond her wildest dreams. She has testified before Congress; she has played the role of victim to the hilt; she has taken on the Catholic Church and attracted the attention of the nation’s leading radio talk show host; she has garnered mainstream media attention; and she has received a personal phone call from the President of United States. What more could she ask for? A public apology from Rush Limbaugh, of course, and she got one yesterday. According to the Washington Post,
Limbaugh, a conservative radio talk show host, was criticized by prominent Democrats and Republicans. A handful of companies suspended their commercials on his show in protest and by Saturday, Limbaugh apologized in a statement on his Web site.
In the statement, he said “my choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir.”
Rush did create a “national stir,” but so did Sandra Fluke. The story in the Washington Post goes on to say,
Fluke said she anticipated criticism but not personal attacks from prominent pundits including Rush Limbaugh, who repeatedly has called her a “slut,” and from hundreds of people who have typed even more offensive slurs on Twitter.
“I understood that I’m stepping into the public eye,” said Fluke, 30, a third-year student studying public interest law. “But this reaction is so out of the bounds of acceptable discourse … These types of words shouldn’t be applied to anyone.”
Fluke got more than she expected. She sought the limelight to advance her agenda; she got it; and she’s playing it for all it’s worth. Were Democrats in Congress and the president using her as a pawn in the game of chess that they are playing with the nation as they seek to make contraception and abortion the order of the day for everyone and every institution regardless of religious beliefs? That’s not clear at this point, but Fluke’s testimony and the attention that she has grabbed dovetails perfectly with President Obama’s plan to make America over in his image.
According to another Washington Post article,
Fluke had been invited to testify to a House committee about her school’s health care plan that does not include contraception. Republican lawmakers barred her from testifying during that hearing, but Democrats invited her back and she spoke to the Democratic lawmakers at an unofficial session.
President Barack Obama, whose landmark health care overhaul requires many institutions to provide birth control coverage, telephoned her from the Oval Office on Friday to express his support.
The issue has been much debated in the presidential race, with Republican candidates particularly criticizing the Obama plan’s requirements on such employers as Catholic hospitals. Democrats — and many Republican leaders, too — have suggested the issue could energize women to vote for Obama and other Democrats in November.
Reading between the lines, it looks as though Sandra Fluke really isn’t a fluke. She may very well be a purposeful plant, and if she is, she has arrived on the scene at an opportune time. In effect, Fluke has altered the debate. It is no longer about the rights of religious institutions and individuals to adhere to their beliefs. It’s about whether taxpayers should be forced to pick up the bill for people who want to live licentious lifestyles. If I’m right, then Fluke’s case is not good enough to overturn the Constitutional prohibition against the government imposing its will in matters pertaining to religion. In fact, her case highlights the importance of religious beliefs in a country that is becoming increasingly immoral.
Will the Democrats’ ploy energize women? I hope so because I suspect that most women are as turned off by Fluke as I am. Time will tell if that’s true, but for now, Republicans should think long and hard before they backpedal too far. Rush Limbaugh is just a distraction. Republicans shouldn’t let the Democrats’ sleight-of-hand tactics cause them to miss the big picture.
Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia. His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily.