The man who popularized the term "feminazi" to vilify progressive women boasted recently of how he is a "defender and protector of American women and women worldwide."
He has routinely complained that women are "chickifying" society, accused women of castrating the male population, said he would send Justice Sonia Sotomayor and other women "a bunch of vacuum cleaners to help them clean up after their meetings," and even dabbled in the sort of sexist commentary that serves only to reinforce gender stereotypes. Is snickering about alleged sexual harassment, as Limbaugh recently did, the new definition of defending and protecting women?
This is what Limbaugh should have said on his show Tuesday: "Rush Limbaugh, defender and protector of [conservative] American women and women worldwide" -- because, in essence, that's what he meant to say.
On Monday night, Limbaugh appeared on Greta Van Susteren's Fox News show to discuss a variety of issues, including what he thinks of the tea party and what awaits us in November. Discussing the tea party, he launched into a firm defense of the movement, illustrating the "profound effect" it has had on the midterm elections. He smoothly segued into his familiar diatribe on the "ruling class" and the "elites" who are "in the process of ruining the country" and who are "trying to ... destroy" Sarah Palin and other tea party women -- "average, normal, real people who want to aspire to great things" and who didn't exploit their family's connections to get to where they are now.
When Van Susteren later asked him "which politician currently do you admire most or impresses you the most," Limbaugh stated:
LIMBAUGH: I really look at Sarah Palin, however, and I look at everything they've thrown at her; I look at the attempts they have made to destroy her -- a decent, good, patriotic woman who's not done anything to anybody. In fact, she has lived the life that the feminists told us women should so. She's had it all: she's a family woman; she started out in the PTA and got involved in her kids' lives and took it further and wanted to go into politics on a higher level to try to fix things. She has done it all and she has not withered under the efforts to literally destroy her. You have to admire that.
You have admire people that don't give up, especially doing it with a smile on their face. She's defied them all along the way.
LIMBAUGH: This woman was supposed to be a standing joke, and they can't make a joke out of her because she's a very serious woman, who loves being an American, who loves life, and you have to admire how she's stood up under this withering attack.
These are the comments Limbaugh aired on his radio show the next day, the ones he presented as irrefutable evidence that he defends and protects women. It is true that, in the past few weeks, Limbaugh has staunchly defended Palin and Christine O'Donnell, the controversial tea party-backed U.S. Senate candidate, from criticism. (Of course, in the course of defending Palin and O'Donnell, Limbaugh has predictably mixed in some sexism along the way.)
Limbaugh has gone so far as claim there is a "double standard" in the way conservative women are attacked, arguing that "it's open season on attractive, conservative women ... if you're a liberal Democrat."
All of that, of course, is nonsense. There are legitimate questions to be asked of Palin, as there are of every single person running for the U.S. Senate. There exists no double standard in asking O'Donnell to answer questions about her personal history, her financial irregularities, her... interesting views on a number of subjects, or her stance on the issues. Isn't that what people running for political office do?
But, Limbaugh, as we point out every single day, stretches the meaning of dishonest to an entirely different altitude. This is the man, after all, who takes childish pleasure in comparing Rosie O'Donnell to a "killer whale" or the H1N1 virus and thinks nothing of converting "secretary" to "sex-retary."