On This Week with George Stephanopoulos, it's a veritable free-for-all over Rush Limbaugh and the contraceptive debate. You got to see the full range of Villager conventional wisdom - from A to B! Let's listen as they discuss Rush Limbaugh's non-apology apology to college student Sandra Fluke:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Fair to say, I think, George, we're going to see her picture in Democrat ads as well. I can only imagine the pressure that Rush Limbaugh was on yesterday to force that apology. You know, the advertisers came out and started to pull their ads. I would imagine also Republican leaders are calling and saying, get this issue off our backs.
WILL: Well, it would have been nice if they had shared that with the larger public, the Republican leaders. Instead, Mr. Boehner comes out and says, Rush's language was inappropriate. Using the salad fork for your entrée, that is inappropriate.
Points for style to Mr. Will! Good one, George! As we know, using the proper fork is an important Beltway tool.
WILL: I mean, and Rick Santorum says, well, what he said was absurd but an entertainer is allowed to be absurd. No, it is the responsibility of conservatives to police the right and its excesses, just as the liberals unfailingly fail to police the excesses on their own side.
And it was depressing because what it indicates is that the Republican leaders are afraid of Rush Limbaugh. They want to bomb Iran, but they're afraid of Rush Limbaugh.
"Excesses" of the liberals? I would be so happy to see some. Where are they?
NOONAN: Look, what Rush Limbaugh said was crude, rude, even piggish, it was just unacceptable, he ought to be called on it. I'm glad he has apologized. I guess there will be a debate now about the nature of the apology. But what he said was also destructive.
It confused the issue. It played into this trope that the Republicans have a war on women. No, they don't, but he made it look they that way. It confused the larger issue which is the real issue, which is "Obama-care," and its incursions against religious freedoms, which is a serious issue. It was not about this young lady at Georgetown.
So what he said was deeply destructive and unhelpful and he ought to be called on it.
Oh, Nooners. Surely you're not drinking this early in the day? There are no incursions into "religious freedoms," no matter what those voices in your head tell you. That nice Dr. Dean tries to explain it to you:
DEAN: War on religious freedom is an important thing inside the Beltway among elite people, it's like the Fourth Amendment. It's a good argument for elite people. An attack on whether women can buy birth control pills or not, and have their insurance pay for it, every woman in America understands that.
This is a war on women. They've been warring on woman on abortion rights, now they're going after them on birth control rights. There's not a woman in the United States of America that doesn't get what the Republicans are doing.
And Mitt Romney is going to have to live with this. And he can't get out of it until the primary season is over. And that is his problem.
Donna Brazile jumps in:
BRAZILE: George, last year the Republicans tried to redefine rape, over the last...
STEPHANOPOULOS: What do you mean by that?
BRAZILE: Redefine rape as it to relates to who's the victim, who's the accuser. There was a whole big fight that the Republicans had to back down on. In 36 of 44 state legislatures across the country, Republicans have put forward amendments to restrict woman's access to health care, birth control, mammogram screenings, of course, defining of personhood.
This is a campaign that women feel very strong about and I don't think -- it's not just partisan, because, you know what, we have pigs on the Democrat side. Some of us don't want to say it, we have pigs. We have make pigs.
WILL: Name names, Brazile.
BRAZILE: George, I have but just a few...
BRAZILE: But, we know the culture is sexist, misogynist. But this was -- what Rush Limbaugh did was over the top. And the Republicans had to figure out how to pull him back. They couldn't pull him back. They started to distance themselves. Then the advertisers stepped in, and that's why I believe it's a huge problem for Republicans.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Mitt Romney hates talking about his entire issue. That is very, very clear. But he is going to have to engage it at some level, what would you advise?
DOWD: Well, the first thing is I think he -- anybody should have come out with some courage of their convictions and told Rush Limbaugh he was totally wrong to do this.
I think the myth -- there's a myth around Rush Limbaugh. This idea that he influences a large number of Republican voters is a complete myth. Keep in mind, Rush Limbaugh attacked Newt Gingrich before the South Carolina Primary, and Newt Gingrich won South Carolina.
And then Rush Limbaugh attacked Mitt Romney before the Florida Primary, and Mitt Romney wins Florida. I think the problem is the Republican leaders, Mitt Romney and the other candidates, don't have the courage to say what they say in quiet, which, they think Rush Limbaugh is a buffoon.
They think Rush Limbaugh is a buffoon. They don't think he's helpful in this marketplace. They think he is like a clown coming out of a small car at a circus. It's great he is entertaining and all that. But nobody takes him seriously.
If I were Mitt Romney, I would stand up and say, we need to change the political discourse in this country. Whatever words we use on the left or the right, we need to change the political discourse.
Yes, Matt. The lobbyists writing the legislation aren't the problem. It's the lack of manners from their lackeys.
NOONAN: Yes, there's also a sense that those who are not sympathetic to conservatives love to make believe that conservatives are lemmings, who tug their forelock and say, yes, sir, to people like Rush Limbaugh. It should not be true. There are many reasons to believe it is not true. For those who do it, they should stop.
But, Donna, I have got to say, whether or not -- let's just call it birth control, not abortifacients and sterilization, whether or not birth control coverage under insurance companies is desirable, the real issue is you don't get it by -- through an assault on the First Amendment, which is more important.
This is about...
BRAZILE: It's about health care. It's about prevention. It's mammograms. It's not about sex. The Republicans keep thinking it's about sex. It's about preventing, you know, women...
NOONAN: It is about things that are unacceptable to our church.
BRAZILE: I am in that same church.
NOONAN: I know. And this is unacceptable to that church.
Nooners isn't being intellectually honest here. Pope John XXIII was on the verge of approving birth control after Vatican II, but he died. Paul VI wavered on the issue, but the old hard-liners in the Curia wouldn't let him do it - despite the recommendations of his own committee.
DEAN: And 82 percent (inaudible) use birth control pills. Give me a break here. I mean, it's ridiculous.
BRAZILE: It's unacceptable for women not to have a full range of reproductive health services when they need them.
DOWD: But part of what's happened here, part of, I think, what happens here, Rush says what he said, which is despicable, and then we use words like this is a war on women. It's not a war on women. There's not a bunch of Republicans out there, saying, I want to take women out, I don't [want] them part of the political discourse.
People say wrong things. People do and sponsor wrong policies. But there's -- when we use terms like the -- whatever Rush said or even terms applied to African-Americans or terms applied to gay people, or terms to intellectual people, disabilities, or use word terms like war on women, that's the problem in our discourse. It's why we can't have a reasonable conversation.
Hmm. Which party has a consultant who specializes in coming up with terms to denigrate Democrats and their policies, and to demonize liberals? I know if I think about it long enough, it'll come to me....
Ladies and gentlemen, your librul media.