He can’t help it

Even when he can’t stand the heat and has to pretend to apologize, Rush Limbaugh can’t – or won’t – stop lying.

Today he said he was sorry for having called law student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute” for telling Congress that women needed access to contraception.  But even as he did so, Limbaugh repeated the central lie in his original rants:  that Fluke had somehow made her sexual activity a matter of public discourse.

I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress. I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities. What happened to personal responsibility and accountability? Where do we draw the line? If this is accepted as the norm, what will follow? Will we be debating if taxpayers should pay for new sneakers for all students that are interested in running to keep fit?In my monologue, I posited that it is not our business whatsoever to know what is going on in anyone’s bedroom nor do I think it is a topic that should reach a Presidential level.

But in fact Fluke did no such thing.  Fluke’s testimony never mentions her own situation at all. Nor does it mention, even by implication or euphemism, anyone’s sexual activity.  It’s most memorable anecdote is the one about a woman – a lesbian, who doesn’t have to worry about getting pregnant unless she’s raped – who lost an ovary because her health plan wouldn’t cover the birth-control pills she needed to control her ovarian cysts; the plan administrators refused to believe that she needed them for what she in fact needed them for. Their terror – actually, the terror of the Catholic Church – that someone, somewhere, might be getting laid, did this woman irreparable damage. That’s what Fluke’s testimony was about.  It was only Limbaugh who chose to fixate on the sexual aspect.

He reminds me of the story about the old man who, on a Thematic Apperception Test, is shown a picture of a grassy hillside and tells a story about the orgy that went on there the previous night, is shown a picture of a cave mouth and tells a story about a woman who is being kept as a sex slave inside it, and continues in this vein until the tester tells him he seems to be obsessed with sex. “I’m a sex maniac?” he replies. “So who’s got the collection of dirty pictures?”

What should be astounding, but isn’t, is how many of the people discussing this affair have accepted Limbaugh’s false premise that Sandra Fluke brought up the subject of sex, and therefore can’t complain if her sexuality became the matter of coarse jest. She didn’t; old Limp-dick did. But the sort of people who plan to vote for Mitt Romney this fall are so immune to reality that they’re happy to join in Limbaugh’s projection of his own preoccupation with sex onto their common political opponents.

Since it’s usually in bad taste to mock the recently dead – even those who, while alive, themselves mocked the recently dead – I’ve been trying to come up with something not harsh to say about the late Andrew Breitbart, in place of a slightly awkward silence. The always-eloquent Ta-Nehisi Coates did so deftly, reciting the story of Breitbart victim Shirley Sherrod and noting that while it was right and proper to be sorry about Breitbart’s early death, one should be even sorrier about the way Breitbart lived his life: as a professional slanderer.

Limbaugh’s latest should remind us of another reason to sincerely mourn Breitbart’s passing: in taking him so early, the Angel of Death missed an even greater opportunity to cleanse our public discourse of the filth that now befouls it.