Tuesday, March 06, 2012

A Bully Too Far

For months now the Rabid Right methodology of total nuclear warfare against all opponents on everything, which won them some victories through the shock and relentless ultraviolence of their attacks as well as their unprecedented boldness in relentlessly repeating lies,  has come back to haunt them.  When adopted by the GOPer Congress and many state governments after the 2010 elections, it had a blitzkrieg effect, but in recent months, the extremism of the content as well as the tactics have become obvious, and unpopular.  Then when GOPer presidential candidates began to compete, they didn't know how to do anything else but attack each other with a virulence that effectively destroyed the opponent but with the tawdry violence rebounding on the attacker.

These are the tactics of bullies, and for awhile they were successful, as bullies often are.  But with Rush Limbaugh, the personification of the GOPer bully who looks and sounds the part, that helpless excess has exposed both the tactics and their extreme positions as never before.  Limbaugh attempted to bully a young woman whose entire career as a public figure added up to a few hours, first when she was not permitted to testify to a congressional committee, and then when she did testify to an unofficial hearing about the health implications of insurance coverage for contraceptives. 

Limbaugh went after her in the only way the Rabid Right knows--viciously, violently, relentlessly, thoroughly, repeatedly, with no limits.  This time however the bullying met immediate response.  Social media and email lists rallied the response, resulting in advertisers and radio stations abandoning his radio program, with the suggestion that the biggest shoe of all might drop--Armed Forces Radio, petitioned by female military personnel.  In the midst of this, the bullied young woman, Sandra Fluke, got a very public call of support from President Obama.  That raised the stakes even more. 

This battle is hardly over, perhaps hardly begun, as Rabid Right pundits rally a defense and a counteroffensive with advertisers.  But what also sets this apart from other political battles is that it is personal--it is about sisters, daughters, wives, grandchildren, mothers.  The terms of Limbaugh's bullying made it an attempt to bully American women.  It could turn out to be the spark for today's young women to take up the cause that even their mothers may have thought was already won.

Thanks to the swarming effect of digital media and cable news, this is going to be a very long election season--so long that seemingly the only way to get through it is to forget each past week as quickly as possible, so it may well change dramatically over and over.  The polls may change many times.  Other events will dominate the roaring buzz.  But this latest act of bullying may turn out to have lasting consequences.            

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