A student at Georgetown University was denied the opportunity to testify on a hearing on contraception and health insurance held by the House Oversight Committee, but eventually was heard at a Democrat-only event. She became a target of harsh language from radio talker Rush Limbaugh, which created such an uproar that Limbaugh did something he rarely ever does – apologize.
But that’s not the end. A contingent of House members led by Louis Slaughter (D-NY) is asking that Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) join them in condemning Limbaugh’s remarks. Slaughter added thesignatures of 78 members to her own in the letter to Boehner. Among those signing were two of the Democratic leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Communications Subcommittee Ranking Member Anna Eshoo (D-CA).
The student, Sandra Fluke, had testified about the difficulty getting coverage for expensive medically prescribed hormonal birth control medication at the Catholic university.
Limbaugh said she must be having a lot of sex and labeled her a “slut” and a “prostitute.”
“On his February 29, 2012 show, Mr. Limbaugh repeatedly used sexually charged, patently offensive, and obscene language to malign the character of this courageous young woman who has chosen to be the voice for many of her peers,” the letter states. “This kind of direct attack on a private citizen is unacceptable. Mr. Limbaugh is as free as any American to speak his mind about the political and social issues of our time, but using his radio show as a means for blatantly insulting a hard-working American with obscene and indecent language because he disagrees with her personal choices is an abuse of the public airwaves.”
The letter can be read here.
Friday, President Barack Obama jumped on the bandwagon, actually calling Fluke and telling her that her parents should be proud of her.
After standing his ground on Friday, Limbaugh reversed course over the weekend and posted this apology on his website:
“For over 20 years, I have illustrated the absurd with absurdity, three hours a day, five days a week. In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.
I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress. I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities. What happened to personal responsibility and accountability? Where do we draw the line? If this is accepted as the norm, what will follow? Will we be debating if taxpayers should pay for new sneakers for all students that are interested in running to keep fit? In my monologue, I posited that it is not our business whatsoever to know what is going on in anyone’s bedroom nor do I think it is a topic that should reach a Presidential level.
My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir. I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.”
For his part, Boehner did criticize Limbaugh’s remarks, as did another House Republican leader, Eric Cantor (R-VA). According to The Hill, Boehner added that he did not appreciate Democrats using Limbaugh’s remarks as a fund-raising tool.