Keith Olbermann presents a rather unsavory Rush Limbaugh clip:
I'm not defending Rush for stooping to this level (and I'd guess that he isn't particularly proud of his work in that segment). But Olbermann's comprehension falls short. I agree with him that Rush seems to be saying: 1. Men aren't sexually attracted to women who are smarter than they are, 2. Smart women are always telling men what to do instead of catering to their sexual needs, and 3. Elizabeth Edwards, being a smart woman, may have driven John Edwards into the arms — crudely, into the mouth — of Rielle Hunter.
But Olbermann is wrong to spin this as hypocrisy, a charge he premises on the notion that Rush is a big Puritan who expects others to meet standards of virtue that he ignores. Olbermann cites Rush's 3 failed marriages and problems with drug abuse. I don't think Rush ever promotes himself as particularly virtuous on sexual matters. (See this old post where I call him "a shameless sybarite.") The issue of drugs is irrelevant to Edwards's case, but in the time I've been listening to Rush (since January 2008), he's always been modest and self-aware with respect to his drug problems. But on sexual matters, he tends to be worldly. He frequently says he doesn't want to be married and implies that he's enjoying himself.
What I hear in the clip Olbermann has presented is a man's understanding of another man. Rush means to say something very crude, and he makes comedy out of holding it back and then blurting out just enough that we get the picture: A man needs a woman's mouth for sex. Rush's comic riffs often involve him telling us what other people must be thinking. His best work comes in this form, but this example is not his best work. His best work usually has him voicing imagined thoughts that he does not agree with — the thinking of liberals and leftists. But this one is a case of sympathy. He purports to know why men cheat on their wives, and he may be speaking from experience. So Olbermann's hypocrisy theme is just wrong.
Olbermann is probably assuming that all conservatives are alike, and since some of them profess strong sexual morality, all of them do. That's as wrong as thinking that all liberals are sexual libertines.
It's also absurd that Olbermann taunts Limbaugh for only being on the radio and not on TV. Obviously, Rush's ratings are much higher than Olbermann's, and he's had far, far more influence.
Interestingly, the clip shows why Rush belongs on the radio. And I'm not saying that because he's fat, which he is, and he knows it. He belongs on the radio because to produce his very expressive vocal stylings he throws his whole body into it. He flails his arms and jerks his shoulders like a ham Shakespearean actor. The voice possesses the body. You don't want to see that. You only want to hear the results of it. This is fine, since he's not terribly physically attractive anyway. He's a great voice. That's radio. By contrast, Olbermann belongs on TV. He looks right for that part, and he maintains physical decorum while producing a good, expressive voice.
Olbermann announces at the beginning of the segment that he's going to demonstrate that Limbaugh has turned Edwards into "a victim." He never proves that point. Elizabeth Edwards is a victim — of disease and a cheating husband — and that makes it quite unpleasant to blame her for Edwards's actions (which Rush does). But how does that make Edwards a victim? I think it makes Edwards even more disgusting to have Rush saying, I know why you must have felt like cheating on her.
Now, maybe Rush is a big step ahead of me, and he wasn't just blurting out a theory of why Edwards cheated on Elizabeth. There's not much to the idea that a man wanted more sex than he was getting at home — or a different kind. And the idea that a woman should stop talking so much and give a man oral sex is such low humor that it's hard to see why he didn't discard it. Maybe what Rush was really doing was trying to hurt Edwards with Rush's sympathy. After all, Edwards's supporters hate Rush. To portray him as the sort of guy who thinks like Rush is to hurt him.