From Mitt Romney, missing out on his chance to use Rush Limbaugh’s “slut” remarks as his very own Sister Souljah moment:
I’ll just say this, which is it’s not the language I would have used.
And even that was only after dodging reporters all day before finally deciding he could risk expressing even this measured-to-the-nano-hair level of disapproval.
By the way: at the risk of belaboring the obvious, the problem here isn’t really Rush Limbaugh. His schtick is to say outrageous stuff and then watch as liberals get into a lather over it. He’s done it before, he’ll do it again.
The real problem is that Rush is speaking for a big pool of people who agree with him. We’re all acting as though we’re shocked that the “religious freedom” argument was just a facade for a seething hostility toward contraceptives themselves, but what’s to be shocked about? Rush knows his audience well, and for most of them insurance coverage of contraceptives has always been a sideshow. That’s clear enough already if you’re plugged into the email chains and church newsletters that form the backbone of social conservatism, and all Rush has done is drag it out from this netherworld and shine a national spotlight on their real concern: that unmarried women are having sex at all, and that easy access to contraceptives expresses a tacit endorsement of it. They really do disapprove of the pill and the free-love generation it ushered in, and they disapprove of the fact that modern society forces them all to pretend that this is OK. Because they don’t think it’s OK. They’re afraid of it. They think it’s bad for public morals, they think it leads to a breakdown of order, and they think it should be condemned. Maybe the hypocrisy of times past was nothing to be proud of, but it’s still better than the chaos and self-indulgence of the if-it-feels-good-do-it generation.
I know we all know this. But sometimes it seems like we forget. The issue here isn’t really Rush, it’s public opinion. There’s a big chunk of it that’s still offended by the sexual revolution, and we either have to persuade them otherwise or else just steamroll them because we’re in the majority. There’s really no other option. There never has been. Rush is just a distraction.