Rush Limbaugh made a fool of himself last week when he betrayed the ideals he is supposed to stand for and maligned a woman he did not know.
The talk show host smeared Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke’s reputation because he disagreed with her. That is weak and inexcusable.
He criticized her opinion about the federal contraception mandate by calling her a “slut” and telling her to make a sex tape so the taxpayers who would finance her love life could benefit from it.
That is utterly unacceptable.
On Monday, he apologized for his comments.
“Against my own instincts, against my own knowledge, against everything I know to be right and wrong I descended to their level when I used those two words to describe Sandra Fluke. That was my error,” he said.
We think his remarks were a little more than just error.
Not only did he single out the reputation of a college student with offensive, unproven labels that seemed to degrade women everywhere, he also managed to distract the nation from the important question of Constitutionalism and religious liberty that he was supposed to be debating.
In his comments, he pulled our national discourse into the mud and pond scum that our founders hoped American political discussions would avoid. Hardly excellence in broadcasting.
Understandably, many of his advertisers have pulled their funding. Some have called for Hillsdale College to do the same. While we deplored his comments, we think that may be premature.
Apart from demeaning the dignity of another human being, Limbaugh’s comments were destructive because they distracted from the important discourse at hand. Hillsdale’s mission, as a custodian of America’s experiment in self-government, is to elevate the national discourse. That’s the reason we are offering a national course on the Constitution — to help our fellow citizens understand first principles and the ideals of the liberal arts.
Those ideals include reasoned discussion without ad hominem fallacies. Our founders expected vigorous debate, but the Federalist Papers also demonstrated a level of civility that they expected to accompany any clash of ideas.
Some of us think that advertising with Limbaugh can continue to promote principles of the liberal arts into the national conversation. Pulling our ads now would do nothing to bring the Constitution and thoughtful argument to the foreground.
Rush, we take your apology at face value, but you have done little to bolster your credibility and much to destroy the cause of Constitutional conservatism. The essence of Constitutional Republicanism is a fundamental respect for human beings. We hope that by not pulling ad space Hillsdale can contribute to the national conversation by pointing you and the listeners who respect your ideas to the principles that should undergird your thinking.
You have a authority in the realm of conservative ideas; use it more wisely.