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Political Mercury

March 8, 2012
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Limbaugh’s Cheetos moment reveals transactional view of women

By Douglas Burns

Every other week or so for years, I’d encounter this astonishingly creepy guy at the convenience store near my Arlington, Va., apartment in the ’90s.

With a grease-fed gut in full bloom, matted hair and funeral-home-pale skin, this middle-aged man would haul himself to the convenience store and buy the same three things — every time: two 12-packs of beer, a bag of Cheetos and a king’s ransom of porn magazines like Juggs and Penthouse.

The trifecta of purchases conjured up disturbing images of the way Cheeto Creep clearly intended to spend the evening. And I doubt he washed the coagulated synthetic cheese from his paws before he ripped into Juggs. I wouldn’t have shaken his hand on a bet — or in a HazMat suit.

You get the picture. Sorry.

Fortunately, having been back in Iowa since 1996, I haven’t thought of Cheeto Creep for nearly two decades — although I still duck when offered a Cheeto.

But this changed last week, thanks to Rush Limbaugh.

Ignoring Richard Nixon’s wise rule that public figures should never attack those with lesser standing and power than themselves for risk of appearing the bully, Limbaugh assailed Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown University Law School student, for testifying about contraception before a House panel.

“What does it say about the college co-ed Fluke who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? Makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex,” Limbaugh said last Wednesday on his radio show.

Lost in the furor over Limbaugh’s slut-shaming is the most revealing comment of the ugly episode. Call it Rush Limbaugh’s Cheetos moment.

“If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it, and I’ll tell you what it is: We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch,” Limbaugh said Thursday.

The question no one is asking is this: Just how does Rush Limbaugh plan to use the videos he wants Fluke and other women on contraception to provide for his pleasure? Does he want the video submissions to stop with women, or is he interested in rolling tape of Georgetown fraternity guys who may have wrapped up with Ramses or Trojans?

The slut comment is outrageous. But soliciting sex videos of women who want access to contraception reveals Limbaugh for what he is: a man who has transactional relationships with women.

As Fluke pointed out in her House panel testimony, not all women are on birth control, for, well, birth control.

“In the worst cases, women who need these medications for other medical conditions suffer very dire consequences,” Fluke testified. “A friend of mine, for example, has polycystic ovarian syndrome, and she has to take prescription birth control to stop cysts from growing on her ovaries.”

Fluke added, “Without her taking the birth control, a massive cyst the size of a tennis ball had grown on her ovary. She had to have surgery to remove her entire ovary as a result.”

Does Limbaugh want video of this, too?

Republicans have a major Limbaugh problem. He has been far more than an “entertainer,” as Rick Santorum and other party leaders now conveniently categorize their bellicose ally.

So much for Republican strategist and Mitt Romney pal Mike Murphy’s dash-off claim on “Meet The Press” Sunday that Limbaugh can’t even deliver a pizza on election day.

He may have delivered single women in droves for President Obama in November. You can’t walk back the term “slut,” as there is never an acceptable occasion for its usage in the public arena.

For the better part of a week, we’ve heard Limbaugh whale around in the role of the victim.

It’s funny, though, there’s no blood on his hands. Just a bright-orange, manufactured, caked-on cheesy residue. CV

Douglas Burns is a fourth-generation Iowa newspaperman who writes for The Carroll Daily Times Herald and offers columns for Cityview.

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