The Common Good

Limbaugh and the Family Research Council: We Love Him, We Love Him Not

(Photo By Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)
A cardboard cutout of Rush Limbaugh at the 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference.(Photo By Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, appeared on Martin Bashir last week to condemn Rush Limbaugh’s words against Georgetown Law Student, Sandra Fluke.

Bashir asked:

"Mr. Perkins, I’ve found this whole controversy extremely disturbing and it seems almost impossible to find a Republican who unequivocally without conditions condemns what’s been said. Now you are a family man, you’re a committed Christian you play an important role in conservative politics will you for the benefit of our broadcast clearly and categorically denounce what Rush Limbaugh said? "

Perkins response:

"I disagree that because there is a double standard that somehow defends what was said. I do think there is a double standard but that doesn’t defend attacking an individual.

"I think we need to engage in civic -- or civil discussion. I don’t think there’s any room in this process for calling people derogatory names. I think what Rush Limbaugh did by calling this young woman, regardless of her political views, regardless of what she was advocating for, calling her derogatory names. I disagree with her position. I think what she said was off base, what she was advocating for was off base, but I think Rush Limbaugh was wrong in calling her what he did."

 

Good for him. As Bashir pointed out at the beginning of his program, many conservatives are often hesitant to criticize someone like Limbaugh for fear of on air retribution. Speaking out could cause lost support and donations.

But, as the one hand of the FRC condemned, the other hand saw a fundraising opportunity.

On Saturday morning, I received and email from FRC Action (the legislative action arm of the Family Research Council), signed by Tom McClusky, Senior Vice President of the group, that used Rush Limbaugh’s name and endorsement to raise some cash for a “Values Bus” voter registration campaign.

The subject line of the email was “Rush is right…” and it’s opening paragraphs read:

"Dear Tim,

"Rush Limbaugh says a lot of things on his radio show - sometimes things that are pretty controversial.

"You may have heard Rush talk on his show recently about an effort that may not have sounded controversial but, if FRC Action and its allies succeed, will have a tremendous impact on the 2012 elections.

"Of course, I am talking about the remarks he made regarding the Heritage Foundation/Family Research Council Values Bus that is crisscrossing the United States to register voters."

You can read the full email HERE.

This was a pretty smart idea. Publicly condemn indefensible remarks to a broad audience in order to maintain public credibility and then go to your base and use the same controversy in order to raise money and promote “family values."

Let your yes be no, no be yes and then turn it into a fundraising pitch.

Now, I get big tent politics and unlikely allies. It’s entirely possible to disagree with a person or a group in a whole number of areas and still work with them on common ground issues.

But, let me put it this way. I love Jon Stewart. Really funny guy who uses his satirical wit to make political points I agree with. But, if I was writing a children’s book about the importance of not using swear words, I probably wouldn’t seek his endorsement.

(Current possible titles for said book are Potty Mouths get Flushed, Daddy Didn’t Mean to Use that Word When He Hit His Thumb with the Hammer so Please Don’t Repeat it In Front of Mommy and No, No, Hunny that’s A Word Mommies Use to Tell Daddies they Love them So Never Repeat It)

In the interview with Bashir, Perkins, father of five, said that if Limbaugh had said something similar about one of Perkin’s daughters, Perkins probably would have gone to pay Limbaugh a little visit.

The words are offensive enough to “family values” on Wednesday that Limbaugh deserves a “little visit” but by Saturday his name is good enough to raise money for those same “family values.”

If Limbaugh’s comments had been about one of Perkin’s own daughters would he have been so quick to use the Limbaugh name to raise money for his campaign? Perkins put himself in the shoes of another for a moment on national TV but one about the fundraising his organization is doing?

But, what is really troubling is that I doubt the fundraisers at FRC Action would have put this email out there if they didn’t think it would work. Limbaugh is probably very popular with most of the people the email went to.

Now, I can understand that there are people out there who listen to Rush Limbaugh as entertainment and might not agree with everything he says. But, who are the people out there looking for his seal of approval before they donate to a campaign committed to “family values”?

Tim King is Communications Director for Sojourners. Follow Tim on Twitter @TMKing.

 

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