August 14, 2008

Keith Olbermann calls out Rush Limbaugh for saying why he thinks John Edwards cheated on Elizabeth.

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.

49 comments:

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Olberman must not have gotten the memo of how Ms. Hunter pronounces her first name.

bleeper said...

In a previous Edwards series of comments someone was bent out of shape by a comment that Elizabeth Edwards was fat. Look at the clip, she was.

As for Rush, I listened for a while, but I don't any longer. If I agree with him, then why listen to hours of ads and self promotion for a few minutes of things I know already. If I disagree with him, then why listen to him at all? So now I listen to a sports talk show - much better.

As for Olbermann, all I can say is who the hell is he? Have never seen his show, never will.

Rush had a television show years ago - it was not a good show and it went off the air. Maybe soon we will be able to say that about Olbermann.

AllenS said...

What you just explained, while complicated, I believe is correct.

Meade said...

"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."

Wow! You'd make a good trial lawyer. You know that?

michaele said...

Rush initially danced around going full bore into completing his version of "a little less talk and a little more action". Then right before he went on a commercial break, he indulged himself. Definitely not his best braodcasting moment because more subtle innuendo was actually more effective that crude proclamation. He was the lesser because of it.

gophermomeh said...

They're both blowhards. Why should I waste my time?

Spread Eagle said...

Part of what Limbaugh is saying is that in all ways other than having been stricken with cancer, Elizabeth is no victim.

Ann Althouse said...

"If I agree with him, then why listen to hours of ads and self promotion for a few minutes of things I know already. If I disagree with him, then why listen to him at all?"

I can't take the ads, which is why I subscribe to the website and listen later in the day to the podcast.

And I listen not because I agree or disagree, but because it's well-done and very amusing. I like hearing the news processed into comedy with a strong point of view. I like "The Daily Show" too.

ricpic said...

Rush has good humor; Olbermann has none: that explains Rush's tremendous following and the genuine love millions have for him. Not that alone, of course. There is a largeness about Rush in intellect and in heart that is simply incomprehensible to spite filled Keith. How ironic that tight ass Olbermann calls life loving Limbaugh a puritan.

And yes, Rush is large in the obvious sense too. Har har har.

MadisonMan said...

I wonder if the ad-buyers on his show get some discount based on how many people download the podcast precisely to avoid the ads on the show.

Rush is not my type of humor -- he often seems mean to me -- but I agree that he is very good at what he does. Olbermann too often comes off like an insufferable pain in the ass.

SteveR said...

Olbermann has never let good reasoning get in the way of going after someone he targets. It would be easy, and maybe correct, to believe he is jealous of people like Rush and O'Reilly who are far more successful than he is.

But I tend to feel he is just a massive ego combined with a fear of being viewed as failure so he has sought to become a popular figure among those who hate the people he targets.

However badly stated, I would think Rush was presenting an "excuse" for Edwards as a way of making him look worse.

Wayne said...

The radio station plays a short clip from the previous day's Rush show while I'm driving to work. In this morning's clip, he was talking about how John Edwards must feel like he's been treated poorly, since the last Presidential candidate with great hair, and who had affairs got elected, rather than being thrown under the bus of another candidate.

Based on that, I would say Rush was actually comparing Edwards to Bill Clinton in the clip here - the references to "smart women" being a backhanded reference to Hillary being described at some point as "The smartest woman in the world", and then, of course, references to finding a woman who could do more with her mouth than just talk being a reference to Clinton's affair with Monica.

Middle Class Guy said...

Olbermann is the rabid attack dog of yelow journalism. He is like the little boy who shakes his fist in the mirror and yells I hate you, I hate you.

Why anyone takes him seriously is beyond me. He does the same thing he blames Rush for; creating victims out of sinners. It is alright, I guess, when he gets his puritanic streak up and goes after people he does not like. God forbid another does the same to people he admires.

Olbermann was a lousy sports caster; his only sprots experience was collecting baseball cards. he is a lousy pundit. He is a horrible human being; if one could call him human.

Host with the Most said...

Had a passing aquaintance with Olbermann when he was doing the news out here in LA. We had friends in common and we shared lunch a couple of times at Phillipe's in downtown LA (the original French Dip Sandwich place - sorry you didn't get to it Ann when you were in LA). He didn't seem "political" at the time. Intelligent, yes, but he mostly impressed me each time as someone who is just basically unhappy. Not cynical so much as just kind of sad with his life.

Zeb Quinn said...

I listen not because I agree or disagree, but because it's well-done and very amusing.

I've been listening to Rush off and on since his show began 20 years ago. The off times mainly because it hasn't always been easy time-wise, what with work commitments. And you are exactly right about the reasons to listen to him: because he is very good, extraordinarily good, at what he does, and he is very entertaining.

There has however been a time or two when I thought he was out of line. Not this time in the way Olbermann describes, but other times in the distant past. Back in the 90s one of the things Rush went off on was the over-diagnosis of ADD and ADHD amongst schoolchildren, particularly boys. The fad diseases de jour, which he went so far as to wonder whether they really existed at all. He would've been okay if he had stopped there. Many people hold these opinions and there is some currency in that line of thinking. But he didn't stop there. He went on to talk about "the little school buses," ridiculing them, having great fun at their expense. It wasn't just once. He went on and on about it, getting a good laugh out of it. Limbaugh has made a point of saying many times over the years that he doesn't have kids and he knows nothing about raising kids, so with that in mind it was painful. He has never spent time at his kid's elementary school, watching those little buses load and unload, seeing up close the kids who ride them, let alone volunteering any time in the classroom or in other school activities, having direct contact with the kids who ride the little school buses. Many of his fans, conservative people, mothers of kids who ride the little school buses, called in to try to tell him how wrong and out of line he was, that there are real kids with real disabilities who ride these buses, but he wouldn't back down, and he never did, and he never apologized that I know. He never made these jokes again though either, and never brought up the little school buses again. So that seems indicative of something. Limbaugh is brilliant, but he lost a little luster for me with all that. This was a long time ago. I haven't really heard him make this kind of wrong-headed misjudgment very often, and not again.

Hoosier Daddy said...

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.

Rush isn't and has never portrayed himself as a Puritan. Olberman does his usual frothing at the mouth and thinks because someone calls themselves conservative that somehow we're all out to paint scarlet letters on sluts bosums.

Keith needs to go back to sports commentary since he constantly shows his ass anytime he talks about politics.

Stacy McMahon said...

Have to say I disagree that "smart women are always telling men what to do". Smart women have opinions and [mostly dumber] men may not like that, but in my experience it's usually the dumber folks - male or female - who are the most controlling. I suspect it's because they're afraid the person with the plan is as dumb as they are, and they don't want to be on the bus when it goes off the cliff. Smart people know how and when to get off the bus.

SteveR said...

Wayne-- I think you are exactly right.

rhhardin said...

I think Rush is just motivated by talking about women, and what seems to him the usual problem in problem marriages.

He's pretty often mentioning nagging, too. Hillary ``sounds like my first wife.''

Nothing about you is right, when you have a wife, in his opinion; a situation he vows to avoid now.

So he's talking about marriages, not smart women really.

Smart women might tend to nag more, might be his guess, but it doesn't depend on it.

It's not necessarily oral sex that he means, by the way. An ordinary kiss of satisfaction would be better. Shown satisfaction is the anti-nag.

Nagging is a reduction of sending on quests; where shown satisfaction is never offered, is all.

Guys like the quests, but not the absence of shown satisfaction.

My intuition when a man is found cheating is that there's a reason for it. It really isn't common that men stray from a wife that shows her satisfaction with him to him as a matter of course.

Part of the ``anybody's body parts will do'' inclination of men is that the wife will do fine against the hottest babe in the world, provided she's not nagging.

So a good guess when a marriage breaks up is that there's nagging.

Which is what Rush said. He mixed in the story line that Elizabeth is very smart, like the story line that Hillary is very smart, as something of a mistake, in my opinion.

Middle Class Guy said...

bleeper said...
As for Olbermann, all I can say is who the hell is he? Have never seen his show, never will.

You’re not missing anything. It is like watching someone beat themselves up.

Melinda said...

Zeb:

Many of his fans, conservative people, mothers of kids who ride the little school buses, called in to try to tell him how wrong and out of line he was, that there are real kids with real disabilities who ride these buses, but he wouldn't back down, and he never did, and he never apologized that I know.

That was a tad "Savage" of Rush.

Stacy:

but in my experience it's usually the dumber folks - male or female - who are the most controlling

In my experience, it depends on how guilty and ashamed the smarter person is about being smart.

Simon said...

Middle Class Guy said...
"It is like watching someone beat themselves up."

No it isn't. Watching Keith Olbermann getting beaten up would actually be quite entertaining.

garage mahal said...

Since Republicans never claim to care about women, minorities, or the sick - they can never be accused of hypocrisy when they mock women, minorities, or the sick . A free pass if you will. And convenient!

holdfast said...

I'm sure this is out of line, but let's be honest, EE is not exactly hot. I assume that when she and John met (30 years and 4? kids ago) she was more physically attractive. I also assume that she was always smart and had strong opinions (she's, what, 5 years his senior?). So then, what has changed? Not the smart, opinionated part.

Also, EE may not really be interested in "that" part of marriage any more - the cancer alone is bound to have taken a big toll on her, periods of remission or not.

Hunter/Druck is 10 years younger than John, appears to be in fairly good shape, and is clearly a new-age hippy chick - and I think we all know what that means, don't we guys?

Yes, sometimes it really is that simple.

P. Rich said...

AA said: 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.

Humor? You have obviously failed to purchase a copy of "The Male Survival Guide", 2008 edition.

mcg said: Olbermann is the rabid attack dog of yelow journalism. He is like the little boy who shakes his fist in the mirror and yells I hate you, I hate you.

Why anyone takes him seriously is beyond me.


Well-stated. I'm not sure anyone takes him seriously so much as they use him as a justification for their own similar pathology. "See, I'm right. Keith said so too!" Got to keep feeding that anger and resentment.

JSF said...

Olbermann can have a case against about hw "fascist" us Right Wingers are when he actually puts people who have different opinions then him on his show.

Didn't he just throw Dana Milbank under the bus for saying complimentry things about Senator Mccain?

Maybe Jonah Goldberg wasn't wrong after all.

Beth said...

Your pointy-headed intellectualism comes out when you deconstruct Rush, and it reminds why I've gone back to loving the text and pushing away from the critic.

Sometimes Rush is just a crude gasbag with a banal sense of humor. No need to flail through ever-more labyrinthine "maybe he means THIS!" analyses.

Joan said...

Beth: Your pointy-headed intellectualism comes out when you deconstruct Rush, and it reminds why I've gone back to loving the text and pushing away from the critic.

Which text would that be? Are you saying you love listening to Rush? Because that's what you seem to be saying here, and I'm having a hard time reconciling that with "Beth" as presented here.

FWIW, with all the setup Ann gave it, I expected what Rush said to be much more crude. Certainly the implication was crude, but the words themselves were not. Rush has a recurring theme about nagging women, and it's dead on. (I speak from experience as a reformed control freak.)

I'd rather watch Rush's flailing limbs than Olberman's oh-so-cool facade. I used to watch him when he got his first news program back on MSNBC (The Big Show? something like that), and he was OK. Then the Monica Lewinsky story broke, and I swear it killed something in him. You could see he hated having to report that story, rooting around in the muck, day after day after day. He didn't last too long there but then he popped up again, and now we can't get rid of him. He should have quit while he was ahead.

Bob said...

Part of the reason that Rush's TV show failed is that it was often programmed at times that made success problematical. Here in Charlotte, NC, his show came on at 11 at night, and later 5 in the morning. Hard to succeed when most of your target audience is asleep.

As for his weight, he actually slimmed down (Atkins) while married to his 3rd wife, but apparently after the divorce gave up trying; after all, if you have enough money, there's a lot of women out there who can overlook the physical aspect of it.

Saul said...

I stumbled on Rush years ago when he was much more raw and more consistently funny. Some of that remains. The post-drug bust, and Viagra mishap, has exposed him, which is a good thing. Overall, Rush is unabashedly someone who has no problem enjoying the fruits of the flesh.

I've never understood why Olbermann is obsessed with Rush and O'Reilly. Maybe it is jealousy. If it isn't, Olberann does a disservie by mentioning them everyday.

As for Edwards, who knows and who cares with he screwed someone else. Attributing it to Elizabeth's intelligence, is overthinking what happened. Edwards wanted to get laid. Nothing surprising.

William said...

In the pecking order of art forms, talk radio falls somewhere above juggling and perhaps a notch or two below tap dancing. All the best people acknowledge Rush's talents in the same way they acknowledge Lassie's ability to learn tricks and communicate with small children....During the thirties. writers acknowledged the primacy of their novels and plays over Hollywood screenplays. Well, maybe not. Clifford Odets is more likely to be remembered for The Sweet Smell of Success than for Waiting for Lefty. Art that appeals to educated tastes and art that is performed in pursuit of beauty rather than money is considered more worthy than the puppet shows we groundlings grunt at. And it don't rain in Indianapolis in the summertime....I listen to Rush all the time. OK, there's a bit of gasbag to him, but in the same way that there is a bit of cheap floozy in Marilyn Monroe's performances. It is a flaw that his performance both encompasses and transcends....Let's take the item under discussion. Many of us have little understanding of central Asian geopolitics or optimal rates of taxation and little wish to increase our understanding. But all of us have pondered marital relations and the proper place of oral sex in those relations. I don't know if Rush's explanation is anywhere near right, but he is playing with the truth. Moralists wish to stone the sinner. But Rush wishes to look at the larger picture. The pain and shame that Edwards is suffering will not be in vain, if married men can draw the appropriate moral and game this into a bj. Can art draw a more sublime meaning to Edwards' domestic troubles?

the wolf said...

I think I see the problem...Olbermann is a jackass.

Michael_H said...

Host With The Most said about Olbermann: "..he mostly impressed me each time as someone who is just basically unhappy. Not cynical so much as just kind of sad with his life."

Great definition of a typical liberal, no?

This comment will probably get me in a bit of trouble, but here goes. When you look at Clinton/Clinton and Edwards/Edwards do you see couples who probably have a pretty good sex life? Or do you see couples where the sex probably ended some time ago, and there may even be (on the female side) efforts to avoid it entirely? I see men who are locked in a sexless marriage.

Now look at the McCains. Pretty happy couple, I'd say.

knox said...

I'm surprised at Olbermann referring to Rush as a puritan... and he seems to want to tag all conservatives that way. A laughable premise, as liberals long ago are the ones trying to micromanage and rob our lives of pleasure and joy. Nag us to death, if you will.

Anyway, disapproval of adultery is not puritanical, it's just basic right-and-wrong stuff, isn't it?

Chip Ahoy said...

Better things than talking women can do with their mouth.

* suck up spaghetti noodles in a spaghetti noodle sucking contest

* shoo away pool-side bees by spitting a stream of water on them like a squirt gun

* blow smoke rings

* make a popping sound with the flattened palm of the hand gently smacking an open mouth like an French oral explanation point.

* blow out candles

* shoot a pea shooter

* operate a blow dart gun

* kiss a boo boo and make the hurt go away

* get at the last of a milkshake through a straw

* gargle

* make duck calls

* ease the pain of a burn by blowing on it

* eat

* breathe through when their nasal passage is blocked

* sing

*hum

* Make that bububububububu sound by running an index finger back and forth over the lips, that conveys and extreme "duh."

* make various sound effects

* be a place to smear lipstick

* cool a bowl of soup, a cup of coffee, a test-taste of something cooking.

* blow the dust off something dusty

* annoy and confuse a pet by blowing in its face.

* scream to chase away a bear

* yodel, because that's always funny.

* bite things

* tear open a package of potato crisps

* remove a splinter when tweezers aren't available. Tweezers <--- that's a funny word.

* create a hickey

Fen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fen said...

Rush means to say something very crude -

Dowd says pretty much the same thing. Some piece awhile back complaining why should couldn't land a real man.

Like me. Maureen, contact me through Ann, I'll cook you a nice dinner and treat you right.

Lets not talk politics though...

ricpic said...

Here's to blow jobs
Given with gusto, not grudgingly;
Makes a man malleable,
Not grumpy/curmudgeonly.

Tim said...

I would agree that Oberman could have shortened his comments and left out the part about Rush being on radio instead of TV. Hell, even as a liberal, I'm willing to admit, that Rush is masterful at what he does.

With that said, I'm having a difficult time buying into your rationalization for Rush's comments. Whether he was trying to paint John Edwards as a victim is irrelevant to me. It's the crude comments about Elizabeth that show a lack of class.

And as far as this rationalization...

"However badly stated, I would think Rush was presenting an "excuse" for Edwards as a way of making him look worse."

I guess I don't understand what Rush has to gain by making Edwards looks worse. I could understand if Edwards was still in the predidential race, but he's not.

As I mentioned, I'm a liberal and I don't think Rush is a reflection of most conservatives. However, he is great at feeding those old stereotypes. I was listening one day when someone called to disagree with him on something. She indicated that she did social work and made only 20 thousand dollars are year. Rush laughed and said "Anyone who makes 20 thousand a year, cannot possibly take themselves serioulsy as a human being." I remember hearing that I wondering if that is how all conservatives feel.

Thanks for the GREAT Blog!

Eli Blake said...

Maybe what Rush was really trying to do was 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.

Dang, using that kind of logic maybe the next thing Rush will do is endorse Obama.

Joan said...

Eli, didn't year hear about Operation Chaos?

Steven said...

Olbermann called telecom immunity fascist until Obama supported it, then suddenly declared that it was statesmanlike. And he's trying to call anyone out on hypocrisy?

Olbermann, meta-hypocrite!

Beth said...

Which text would that be? Are you saying you love listening to Rush? Because that's what you seem to be saying here, and I'm having a hard time reconciling that with "Beth" as presented here.

I didn't mean to send your head spinning, Joan! I'm saying, I think "texts" mean something, and the first place to go to figure out what they mean is to the texts themselves, to their words. In this case, Rush said what he meant, a crude comment that a nagging woman just needs a dick in her mouth.

When I say I love the text, I mean I honor it above other interpretations.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Joan said...

Thanks, Beth. I get where you're coming from, and agree with you in principal: words mean what they mean, and most of the time we don't have to go looking for subtext or meta-whatevers. What threw me is that the text in this case is more ambiguous. Rush said that a woman's mouth could be put to better uses than nagging, which is undoubtedly true with or without double entendres.

Beth said...

Joan, then I'm laying on interpretation -- but it sure wouldn't be the first time this week I'd heard a similar comment made on the topic! I don't think Ann was reinterpreting what he meant to imply, but her spin on his purpose I found extremely eggheaded.

TMink said...

Olbermann, who cares about anything Olbermann says? He is neither a well nor an intelligent man.

Trey

Eve said...

Saul said:

I've never understood why Olbermann is obsessed with Rush and O'Reilly. Maybe it is jealousy. If it isn't, Olberann does a disservie by mentioning them everyday

Jealousy? How naive are you? It's because they're easy targets. I mean, have you ever heard Bill O'Reilly? My god, he's a veritable goldmine for mockery! Falafel??!

They're both a couple of low-brow, blowhard, parasitic hypocrites who earn ridiculous amounts of money by deliberately misinforming people. "Ergo", they're easily and deservedly mocked.

Way to go Althouse, by the way. Limbaugh insults Elizabeth Edwards in about as crass a way possible, and you take Olbermann to task for calling him a hypocrite. Yes, I know you aren't *defending* Limbaugh, you are just making the superfluous and eye-rollingly niggling point that, because Limbaugh is more or less a Jabba-sized, pasty-faced, unrepentant man-whore with a dubious Viagra prescription and enough money vacation in the Dominican Republic, Olbermann was wrong to call him a hypocrite. As if criticizing Elizabeth Edwards and blaming women for their husbands' infidelity wasn't enough for him to earn it.

I'm guessing that, like Rush, this probably isn't your moment work, either.

Eve said...

That should be "probably isn't your best moment".

Or "best work". Whatever. Fell free to choose the one you think works best :)

fav.or.it said...

keith olberman in an idiot who should have stuck to espn

sent from: fav.or.it