GOP in no rush to censure Limbaugh

March 6, 2012 5:47 am

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On Friday's "Real Time With Bill Maher," panelist James Carville cut through the latest culture war kerfuffle with a perfect sound bite: "Rush Limbaugh does not speak for the Republican Party," Mr. Carville said. "He is the Republican Party."

The audience's applause confirmed the Democratic operative's impeccable timing. It was a moment of irrefutable clarity, sad as it was. During the three days that Mr. Limbaugh called Georgetown University Law School student Sandra Fluke a "slut" and a "prostitute" on his widely syndicated radio show, the men running to replace President Barack Obama said nothing of consequence.

While Mr. Limbaugh fixated on Ms. Fluke's sex life through the prism of his fevered imagination, Mitt Romney finally got around to issuing the mildest of rebukes once cornered by the press on Friday. "I'll just say this," Mr. Romney said, "it's not the language I would have used." You could practically hear his pearly whites chattering under his fake smile.

For his part, the usually pugnacious Rick Santorum sounded like a Parisian theater critic. He talked about Mr. Limbaugh's misogynistic shtick as if he were a character who wandered onto the national stage from a Samuel Beckett play.

"He's being absurd, but that's, you know -- an entertainer can be absurd," Mr. Santorum told CNN. "He's in a very different business than I am." Given a few more minutes, he might have even called him an existentialist.

While chivalry proved itself dead among the candidates, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner issued an email -- "The speaker obviously believes the use of those words was inappropriate" -- that was the toughest critique for Mr. Limbaugh from any conservative before the broadcaster delivered his own mea culpa on Saturday.

To call the upper echelons of the Republican Party cowardly is to denigrate the word. Their silence prior to Mr. Limbaugh's apology confirms the critique that a mere entertainer is the moral and intellectual standard bearer of the GOP.

When asked to comment the day after Mr. Limbaugh's apology, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor proved that courage always has an expiration date: "It was insulting -- and Rush has said as much," he said, careful to attribute his knock to Rush himself.

Tony Norman: tnorman@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1631, www.twitter.com/TonyNormanPG.
First Published 2012-03-05 23:07:44

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