Rush Limbaugh has once again found himself the subject of national attention, this time for his failed bid to become a part owner of the National Football League's St. Louis Rams. After the world was reminded of Mr. Limbaugh's history of racially charged commentary, the group trying to buy the team rightly realized that Mr. Limbaugh's involvement in the effort could cripple their chances. Rush was dropped - which is exactly how he should be treated by the Miss America Pageant.
Mr. Limbaugh is slated to be a Miss America judge in 2010, in spite of the deep-seated misogyny that he has broadcast nationwide throughout his career. The pageant presents itself as "one of the nation's leading achievement programs and the world's largest provider of scholarship assistance for young women" and is adamant that its contestants compete on far more than their appearance.
So why would the pageant want to compromise this image by approving a judge with a record like Mr. Limbaugh's? This is the man who famously declared that his cat has "taught" him "more about women than anything my whole life" because his cat is "smart enough to know she can't feed herself" and gets "loved," "adoration," "petted," and "fed," without having "to do anything for it." He has speculated that women "would love to be hired as eye candy" and has claimed that "[w]omen still live longer than men because their lives are easier."
Mr. Limbaugh has ridiculed what he calls the "sexual harassment crowd," saying, "They're out there protesting what they actually wish would happen to them." He regularly calls feminists "femi-nazis" and says that "feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream of society."
Mr. Limbaugh frequently laments the "chickification" of society, particularly in government and the media. In his world, female media figures (some of whom are former Miss America pageant winners) are "infobabes" or "anchorettes"; female professors are "professorettes"; the cable network MSNBC is dubbed "PMS-NBC," and female Cabinet secretaries find their title changed to "Sexretary."
After seeing "a blonde, female FBI agent," Mr. Limbaugh complained that someone must be "trying to ram" political correctness "down our throats" because "a 5-foot woman could not play in the NFL; a 5-foot woman could not play in the NBA, but somehow she can be a police officer, a deputy, or a cop, and a lot of people think that this is a little crazy."
He has shared with listeners his "pet name" for the National Organization for Women (NOW): "National Association of Gals" (his acronym: "NAG"). When former Sen. John Edwards disclosed an extramarital affair, Mr. Limbaugh offered the following theory as to Edwards' "motivations": "[G]iven his wife is smarter than he is and probably nagging him a lot about doing this, and he found somebody that did something with her mouth other than talk." After House Speaker Nancy Pelosi became the country's first female speaker of the House, Mr. Limbaugh said: "Why, she can multitask. She can breastfeed, she can clip her toenails, she can direct the House." Limbaugh also thinks a great idea for population control would be to "simply put pictures of" Pelosi "in every cheap motel room." That picture, Limbaugh said, "will keep a lot of things down."
Perhaps no leading female figure has been a more frequent target of Mr. Limbaugh's sexist wrath than Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Besides frequently warning of her "testicle lockbox," Mr. Limbaugh has said that Mrs. Clinton "reminds men of the worst characteristics of women they've encountered over their life: totally controlling, not soft and cuddly. Not sympathetic. Not patient. Not understanding. Demanding, domineering, Nurse Ratched kind of thing." He calls Mrs. Clinton "the most cheated-on woman in the world," describes her supporters as the "new castrati," and once said: "She sounds like a screeching ex-wife. ... Men will know what I mean by this." He's repeatedly mocked her physical appearance, frequently referring to her as a man and several times claiming that she wasn't in the military because "they didn't have uniforms or boots big enough to fit that butt and those ankles."
Based on this abysmal record, it's hard to imagine what Miss America pageant officials were thinking when they selected Mr. Limbaugh as a judge. His history of misogyny has no place in an organization that claims to focus on the advancement of women. If anything, Mr. Limbaugh represents the opposite of that cause.
Marcia Kuntz and Julie Millican are vice president and senior researcher, respectively, at Media Matters for America ( www.mediamatters.org), a progressive media watchdog, research and information center based in Washington. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.