Well, now the jig is up on Sandra Fluke. Yes, she was the victim of Rush Limbaugh’s gross verbal assault. But she rejected his apology, which was direct and unequivocal, saying…
“I don’t think that a statement like this issued, saying that his choice of words was not the best, changes anything, and especially when that statement is issued when he’s under significant pressure from his sponsors who have begun to pull their support.”
So now we know who and what Rush’s adversary and momentary victim is. She is a steely-eyed activist who isn’t interested in mutual dialogue, fair play or civil discourse, only ideological victory. She thinks she has America’s most popular conservative pundit on the ropes, so she refuses to be gracious and to match an apology with acknowledgment and forgiveness. In this she reveals herself as no different from Limbaugh, who never gives a thought to fairness or courtesy to his perceived opponents. He sees his job as the destruction of “the bad guys.” So does she.
We need waste no more sympathy on Sandra Fluke. She was misrepresented to the public by the media, with the assistance of House Democrats, as a typical law student, when we now know that she was an activist on women’s health issues before she enrolled at Georgetown, and may have entered the Jesuit institution prepared to make an issue of its insurance coverage. Rush Limbaugh played into her hands with a boorish, vulgar and mean-spirited attack, and his subsequent apology gave her an opportunity to use the ugly episode to show how contentious policy debate can still be civil and based on reason, rather than political warfare and personal destruction. Fluke rejected it. She wants to demonize her opponents as much as they would demonize her, and she believes, foolishly, that she has Rush Limbaugh trapped.
Her reasoning for rejecting the apology is absurd. Apparently, once pressure is put on someone to apologize, they can never apologize sincerely, since it must necessarily come after the pressure. I have explained why this is nonsense, but her illogical reasoning doesn’t require exposition; its clear meaning is that expressing contempt for an adversary is higher in Fluke’s set of values than treating him ethically. That, and the partisan warrior’s conviction that any apology must include not only contrition for words used, but also for the opinion expressed. Rush Limbaugh need not apologize for his opinions, whether they are offensive to his ideological adversaries or not. He should apologize when his manner of expressing them violates standards of fairness and civility for his medium—and he did.
And what has Fluke accomplished by being graceless? She has surrendered the moral high ground. She has frittered away a rare chance to change the tone of the nation’s polarized political discourse. She has convinced Rush Limbaugh and his apologists that if he was going to abuse a woman, at least he picked an arrogant and vindictive one.
Meanwhile, Rush sounded cheerful and confident today, even more upbeat than usual. The episode wounded him, but he’ll get other sponsors. He’ll be aggravating Democrats and liberals long after Sandra Fluke has joined Fawn Hall and Donna Rice as answers to trivia questions. She could have had a positive impact on the culture if she had shown that she was better, fairer, and more reasonable than the partisan talk radio star.
But she didn’t, and she isn’t.