Limbaugh's Politics Are Conservative, but His Real Schtick Is Just Bullying

If you think the talk-radio host is just an ideological warrior, you've got him all wrong.

Rush Limbaugh - JOSEPH KACZMAREK AP - banner.jpg
Reuters

Said Rush Limbaugh on Thursday:

Mrs. Clinton worked very hard for her whole life and she stuck by her husband while he -- we all know what he did -- humiliated her, embarrassed her. Affair after affair after affair. And now Hillary has reached the pinnacle. And all she is is a secretary. She's the secretary of defense (chuckles to himself). State! State! Whatever. But still a secretary. I don't know. The left has the strangest definitions of success. No, don't say that. They're still trying to get me to keep talking about Spanx. And I don't know. I know people that might be better served if there were a product called Spankles.
Yes, this is offensive, but that's not the point. What needs saying is that this isn't politically incorrect conservatism. It's just a hater being gratuitous. It doesn't advance an ideological movement.

It's actually just discrediting -- and Limbaugh knows it. He's smart enough to understand that monologues like that earn him a certain kind of attention. The same kind that all shock jocks attract.

If conservatives weren't so fanatically loyal to everyone they perceive to be a member of their tribe they'd grasp what's afoot. The man they're always defending isn't a happy warrior for the cause. He's a ratings hound willing to engage in over-the-top misogyny.

How to measure his character? This is a grown man whose jokes land at the expense of women whose ankle size he mocks. If you were a mother and he were your son you'd be embarrassed by his uncouthness. If society operated according to the traditional norms he theoretically espouses, he'd get slapped.

Yet he's considered a conservative champion. If you think conservatism is inescapably sexist perhaps he's a perfect fit for the role. Others think conservatism is a more noble intellectual tradition.

And they should shun Limbaugh.
Presented by

Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A Miniature 1950s Utopia

A reclusive artist built this idealized suburb to grapple with his painful childhood memories.

Video

Why Principals Matter

Nadia Lopez didn't think anybody cared about her school. Then the Internet heard her story.

Video

A History of Contraception

In the 16th century, men used linen condoms laced shut with ribbons.

Video

'A Music That Has No End'

In Spain, a flamenco guitarist hustles to make a modest living.

More in Politics

Just In