That’s the modern-day Republican Party that is now in hock to Combover Crybaby Donald Trump and his fans, and as a result is slowly saying its goodbyes to the real world while it embraces every wacko conspiracy theory going. Few outside the right will be mourning.
He had been peddling his unpleasantness for decades, a typical early 90s swipe being “‘Socks is the White House cat. But did you know there is also a White House dog?’ – Rush Limbaugh, holding a pic of 13-year-old Chelsea Clinton on TV, 1993”. A 13 year old. But Limbaugh did not merely sneer at the Clintons: his munificence extended to his rank intolerance of the LGBT community. As Jessica Valenti reminded us, he “had a segment called ‘AIDS update’ set to music where he mocked dying gay people”. All heart, he was.
The BBC has conceded that “He drew strong criticism for his use of racial stereotypes on his show, including once claiming that all newspaper composite images of wanted criminals looked like civil rights activist Rev Jesse Jackson”. A racist to boot.
He was, to no surprise at all, in the vanguard of climate change denial. The Birther movement could count on his support in the thus far fruitless quest to claim Barack Obama was not born in the USA. When the Gulf of Mexico oil spill of 2010 put the oil industry under the spotlight, Limbaugh claimed it was deliberately caused by environmentalists.
His most vicious and memorable intervention, though, came in 2012 after a student called Sandra Fluke testified before House Democrats on the subject of employers giving birth control coverage as part of their employees’ health care plans. Limbaugh went after Ms Fluke in an attack so vicious, he lost many advertisers as a result, some permanently.
“What does it say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke [sic], who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex [she was] Having so much sex, it’s amazing she can still walk”.
He later doubled down with “So, Ms. Fluke and the rest of you feminazis, here's the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it, and I'll tell you what it is. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch”. That’s what earned him the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Trump.
But worst of all, he didn’t do it out of ideological commitment, as Joe Lockhart has noted: “The thing about Rush Limbaugh is he wasn't the zealot that he came across as. Rush did it for the money. Lots of it. Just like Hannity and company, his background wasn't in politics or a political movement. It was making money”. Principles, eh? Who needs them?
Sadly, reality prevailed for Rush Limbaugh, who had argued “that the dangers of smoking had been exaggerated [and] the benefits dismissed”. He died of lung cancer.
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