It's time to make youth unemployment the focus of our national attention (36211)

Let’s be clear about one thing regarding Rush Limbaugh: He symbolizes everything that is contemptible about the depths to which political dialogue has sunk in America.

Now this man, who for years has freely engaged in racist, sexist rants on his radio program, is nally nding himself in a spotlight he so rightly deserves.

After three days of aggressive, misogynistic comments against a young woman who is a law student at Georgetown University, he has managed to gain the national attention that he continually craves.

But this time, the glare of the limelight is exposing him as the appalling bully that he truly is.

The conservative radio host is now seeing an intense backlash for calling Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown student who testied before House Democrats about “slut” and a “prostitute.”

If that weren’t outrageous enough, Limbaugh went on to reveal a good deal of his own personal sickness.

“So, Miss Fluke, and the rest of you feminazis, here’s the deal,” Limbaugh said. “If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it.

We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.”

After a slew of Limbaugh’s advertisers deserted him, the talk show host nally offered a half-hearted apology, saying he regretted using those two words to characterize the young law student.

It was as though branding her with a slightly less heated iron would have been just ne.

There is a good deal that’s troubling here. For one thing, there is Limbaugh himself, who has routinely offered highly offensive commentary on his show.

There are the Republican candidates who have shown nothing but cowardice in responding to this outrage. spectacle of a young woman with the courage to testify before Congress on a matter of deep personal conviction being treated hideously.

First, let’s look at Limbaugh. This is the man who criticized what he called “militant feminists,” who,

he said, need to realize they “aren’t determining who wins elections. White men are.” Limbaugh is the one who demeaned those Black residents of New Orleans who were unable to leave the city during Hurricane Katrina, saying, “Why didn’t these morons leave New Orleans before the hurricane?

I’ll tell you why: Because they wanted to rape and loot.” These represent but a small sample of the putrid

Limbaugh legacy.

Limbaugh is the provocative voice of the American far right. He has raised to an art form the ability to tap into the fear of white conservatives, who are perfectly horried by the fact that progressives have risen to positions of power–and above all that an African-American United States.

Yet, despite his history of insensitivity and callousness–or perhaps because of it–Limbaugh is embraced as a darling of the Republican Party. His brand of conservative vitriol is so cherished by this inuential faction of the party that Republican presidential candidates fear his wrath should they dare to criticize him.

Consider the case of Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate front-runner.

When asked his view of Limbaugh’s bombastic comments against Fluke, the man who would be leader of the free world said, “It’s not the language I would have used.” Romney offered no criticism what so ever of the attack on the young student.

Indeed, one can only wonder what language Romney might have preferred. Harlot? Tramp?

Meanwhile, Rick Santorum, the sanctimonious uber-Christian, showed his brand of Bible-based compassion by brushing away the whole episode, explaining that Limbaugh is “an entertainer,” adding that the talk show host was simply “being absurd,” in that role.

The good news here is that Limbaugh’s comments have galvanized progressive minds and spirits–and those of fair-minded people of all political persuasions, including no small number of conservative Republicans.

John DeGioia, president of Georgetown University, one of those Catholic institutions that were the subject of Fluke’s testimony, had a couple of choice words of his own for Limbaugh’s rant: “misogynistic” and “vitriolic.”

And Sen. John McCain, who four years ago was navigating a Republican primary of his own, called

Limbaugh’s attack unacceptable “in every way” and said it “should be condemned” by people across the political spectrum.

This widespread outrage has resulted in an ever-growing number of sponsors and radio stations deserting Limbaugh.

At the same time, it has cast national attention on the Republicans’ senseless election-year attack on women, their ability to make their own health decisions and, in the case of Limbaugh, their very character.

Once again, it was left to President Barack Obama to play the role of the sensible adult. In a press conference

on Tuesday, he discussed what motivated him to call Fluke and provide her with some encouraging words.

He spoke, he said, as a father who wants his own two daughters to be engaged in public discourse.

“I want them to be able to speak their minds in a civil and thoughtful way,” Obama said of his two daughters. “I don’t want them attacked or called horrible names because they’re being good citizens. I wanted Sandra to know that I thought her parents should be proud of her and we want to send a message to all our young people; there is a way to do it that doesn’t involved being demeaned and insulted, particularly when you’re a private citizen.”

Well said, Mr. President.