Saturday night, at the White House Correspondents Dinner, comedian Wanda Sykes responded to Rush Limbaugh’s stated hope that Obama’s presidency is a failure, by jokingly remarking, “I hope [Limbaugh’s] kidneys fail.” On CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, conservative talker Bill Bennett objected to the joke, asking rhetorically, “What the hell was that?” Bennett called her joke “way over the line” and then asked, “[C]an we get to a point where we can at least put some decency in our remarks?”
Danna Brazille responded to Bennett saying, “She was trying to make fun of someone who makes fun of everybody. … She’s an entertainer. She was entertaining.” Bennett retorted:
BENNETT: So is Rush an entertainer, but you’re happy to criticize him! … What would have Wanda said that would have offended you?
Today, on his radio show, Bennett replayed the exchange. Bennett added, “By the way, what has Rush ever said that’s not repeatable? Disagreeable, yes. Off the mark, occasionally. … But not repeatable? I can’t think of anything he said that was not repeatable.” Listen here:
Bennett ought to be careful referring to Limbaugh as “an entertainer.” When RNC Chairman Michael Steele gave Limbaugh the “entertainer” label, Limbaugh lashed out at Steele saying that he was not the “head of the Republican Party” and that he should realize that his job is not be a “talking head pundit.” Steele nearly immediately apologized. A number of members of congress including Reps. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) and Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) were forced to apologize as well after making similar comments.
More to Bennett’s point, if he hasn’t heard Limbaugh make any remarks that “aren’t repeatable” or that lack the measure of “decency” that he requires in his entertainers, he hasn’t been listening to Limbaugh’s show. Indeed, just last week, Limbaugh repeated his offensive claim that the only reason Gen. Colin Powell endorsed Obama in the 2008 election was his race. Limbaugh similarly argued in 2003 that the only reason the media was interested in Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb was because he is black.
Limbaugh’s ability to offend, however, does not end with race-based commentary. In 2007, Limbaugh called veterans who advocated for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, “phony soldiers” and in 2006 falsely accused “Michael J. Fox, who has Parkinson’s disease, of ‘exaggerating the effects of the disease’” for political purposes. Media Matters has much more on Limbaugh’s many other offensive remarks.