Many Americans disdain Rush Limbaugh, some of them high-placed and influential. The author of Rush Limbaugh Is a Big, Fat Idiot is now a US senator from Minnesota. The incumbent president of the United States publicly picked a fight with the broadcaster less than a week after being inaugurated. "You can't just listen to Rush Limbaugh," Barack Obama admonished attendees at a White House summit in January 2009.
But tens of millions of fans do listen to Limbaugh – fans whose years of loyalty have made him the most important talk-show host in America. Those fans deserved better than Limbaugh's disgraceful performance last week, when for three days running he insulted liberal activist Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown law student who testified in support of the ObamaCare contraception mandate.
That mandate is part of a preposterous public policy, and Fluke's testimony – with its wacky claims about $1,000-a-year contraception and throngs of Georgetown women "struggling" to pay for birth control– offered ample scope for ridicule and rebuttal. What Limbaugh resorted to instead was crude ad hominems. He didn't just call Fluke a "slut" and "a prostitute." He also labeled her "round-heeled," an "immoral, baseless" woman, someone "having so much sex it's amazing she can still walk." He demanded that she post "the videos of all this sex ... online so we can see what we are getting for our money."