Bum Rush

In today’s episode of “Bum Rush” Mr. Limbaugh has apologized for last week’s name calling when on his show he dubbed law student Andrea Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute.” Eventually, his corporate bosses and PR people launched an attempt to contain his verbal spewing spill, which quickly became oilier than last year’s BP disaster in the gulf. As much attention as this is getting – and rightfully so – the coverage of this event is primarily focused on just two words strategically spit out by the conservative talk show host. In addition to his name-calling rant, Mr. Limbaugh also demanded that Ms. Fluke videotape herself having sexual relations because Mr. Limbaugh and his followers are entitled to and want to see it.

Reviewing Mr. Limbaugh’s comments in their context and entirety validate why his apology just plain fails.

Mr. Limbaugh is a bully. He attacks for ratings and for sport. Then, like most bullies he hides in a safe place where no one can hurt him. Meanwhile, his supporters hide in plain sight. It’s stunning that none of the Republican presidential candidates demonstrated the backbone to immediately speak out against Mr. Limbaugh or use language any stronger than “unacceptable” to characterize his comments.

And where are Republican women?

What a disappointment.

We all recognize that Mr. Limbaugh regularly exercises his right to free speech. Good for him and his fans. Ms. Fluke, too, felt she could speak freely as an American and as a woman about an issue that primarily affects just women. Unlike Mr. Limbaugh and his fellow conservative fans, his advertisers have demonstrated their understanding that deliberately demeaning women is revolting, uncivil and intolerable. Oh, it’s also bad for business. While it would have been nice if advertisers had stepped up on previous occasions when Mr. Limbaugh demeaned people of color and homosexuals, at least they’re speaking out now and pulling their dollars. And mahalo to the Hawaiian radio station that pulled his entire broadcast off the airwaves.

For some reason Rush Limbaugh’s nasty, reprehensible attack values are acceptable and important to the Republican party so much so that Republican leadership has been nearly invisible, apparently afraid to stand up to a radio personality. That’s what bullies count on. Had Ms. Fluke been the daughter of John Boehner or Eric Cantor, two gentlemen, how would they have reacted?

From a Public Relations perspective, Republicans have missed an opportunity to earn points by blatantly and vigorously rejecting Limbaugh’s behavior once and for all. Women and real men who value women, would have appreciated it and had something to be proud of. Quite frankly, if those vying for the office of the President of the United States are too afraid to stifle the bloviated and belittling voice of Rush Limbaugh, how are we to expect them to protect us from the likes of a real enemy?