An axiom in advertising is that sex sells. True enough, Kate Upton, the current Sports Illustrated cover girl, is literally everywhere. (Except my bedroom.) Her Carl’s Jr. TV commercials are so steamy that reportedly some vegetarians have become meat eaters.
Fear and hate are also tools used to manipulate people. Following 9/11, citizens eagerly gave up civil liberties just not to be afraid. Thus we got the ill-conceived Patriot Act.
As for hate, during the 1930s radio evangelist Father Coughlin spewed anti-Semitism to millions. Twenty years later Sen. Joe McCarthy exploited anti-Communism for personal power at the expense of many innocents, some of whom even committed suicide. (Yet Ann Coulter thinks McCarthy was a great patriot. She would.)
But, in June of 1954, during the Senate Army hearings, Joe finally revealed his ugly side and in front of an estimated 80,000,000 TV viewers. (In today’s terms, double “American Idol.”) In a matter of months, McCarthy was censured by the Senate and three years later he essentially drank himself to death.
At a dramatic point in the hearings, Army lawyer, Joseph Welch, pleaded with McCarthy, “Have you no sense of decency, sir?” Last week, top GOP radio megaphone Rush Limbaugh may have committed a McCarthy moment.
Whereas McCarthy wasn’t wealthy, Rush is obscenely so. In 2008 he signed an eight-year $400 million contract with Clear Channel. Given his tactics, Rush should probably pay the McCarthy estate a royalty.
Let’s review some of Rush’s many low-lights. In 1995, when the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia died, Rush observed, “Just another dead doper.” But in 2006 it was Rush who was arrested on drug charges.
It seems Rush was in possession of 10,000 Oxycontin tablets. (Must have been one helluva headache.) Limbaugh so abused the drug that he literally burnt out his hearing. He had to have a cochlear implant operation and must always wear the device in order to hear. By the way, to purchase the Oxy, Rush sent his housekeeper. Now there’s a real man for you.
Ever the bully, in 2008 Rush mocked Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s disease. How twisted is that? And yet, just when I think Rush has scooped from the bottom of the sleaze barrel, he digs deeper. Witness his recent three-day assault of Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown law student.
It all began when Congressman Darrel Issa (R-California) held hearings on issues relating to women’s health, and in his infinite wisdom, only had men offer testimony. In today’s GOP, who’s better qualified to discuss women’s medical issues than men?
Issa barred Ms. Fluke who wanted to share the experiences of her friend who had an ovary removed, which might have been prevented with birth control medication. Nancy Pelosi arranged for Sandra to testify elsewhere, which gave Rush a chance to throw red meat to his rabid listeners.
Rush began his show by calling Pelosi the “Botox queen.” He then proceeded to call Ms. Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute” and suggested that her parents must be very proud. (With Sandra a law student at Georgetown, I would hope so.) Actually, I wonder how proud Rush’s mother is that her son is a convicted felon?
On the broadcast the next day Rush lowered the bar further. “So, Miss Fluke and the rest of you Feminazis, here’s the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives … we want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.” (Gross!) I wonder what Mrs. Rush thought of that offer? (She’s his fourth wife and he has no kids.)
I realize that Limbaugh rants for ratings. But this is so over the top that I suspect he might be back on drugs. I wouldn’t be surprised if a visit to Betty Ford is in the offing. In the meantime, 40 sponsors have dropped or suspended advertising on Limbaugh’s show, apparently concluding that what Rush has in ratings he lacks in decency.
I’m stunned by the GOP’s apparent “war on women.” Consider Rick Santorum’s “sugar daddy” billionaire, Foster Friess. (Yes, it sounds like the ice cream but it’s also actually somebody’s name.) Friess joked that in his day women’s contraception was when they held an aspirin between their legs. Rush even offered to buy the aspirin. Personally, while he’s doing his show, I’d like to see Rush hold an aspirin between his lips.
What does it reveal about society that Rush is so remarkably successful? Ghandi once observed, “There’s an inverse relationship between materialism and morality. An increase of one results in the decrease of the other.”
As I conclude these missives each week, I often wonder am I just preaching to the choir or do I ever get anyone to consider a different point of view. Oh well. Today at least I mentioned Ghandi and Kate Upton in the same column. Where else do you see that?