Thought that'd get your attention. ;)
It's true, though -- even though I don't think he (at least at the moment) has anything directly to do with this particular controversy. But it's something that has bugged me for a long time, and it seems a very good moment to get it out:
Enough with the freakin' fat jokes.
Every time I catch a blog on Rush's latest verbal atrocity, some of the comments will mention how fat he is.
(Same thing in reverse for Malkin and especially Coulter, how skinny/skanky they are.)
I like to think that one of the biggest differences between progressives and conservatives is that we aren't as reactionary regarding appearance.
Note that I said as reactionary. Everybody has their likes and dislikes, their preferences and prejudices, and many of them are hard-wired from a young age. But our side does tend to try more -- usually a lot more -- to look past that.
Some years ago, though, our newest Senator, Al Franken (D-MN), a man I otherwise greatly admire and respect, came out with a book called Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot.
And ever since then, Rush's weight has been fair game.
This makes me freakin' berserk. See, I weigh over 370 lbs.
I am fat. Boy, am I fat. I am legally handicapped in the state of Michigan (the direct cause was a leg injury last year, but that was truly caused by being fat). I have to order clothes online and use a mobility cart at the grocery store. I have broken chairs. I have ruined vacations with my lack of mobility and endurance, and it's all 'cause I'm fat.
I am also an indie musician with eighteen albums and a decent amount of critical praise, a progressive blogger (more of a constant commenter at Eschaton these days), a book and movie and music nut, a decent chess player, a very good RPG game master back in the day, and a pretty nice guy, if I do say so myself. I have a brilliant, wonderful, and stunningly gorgeous ladyfriend, and many more friends than I deserve.
My fatness has nothing whatsoever to do with that.
Why am I getting into this now? Because of this whole stupid foofrah about Dr. Regina Benjamin, President Obama's pick for Surgeon General, being too fat for the job. (I couldn't find anything here at dKos; if you can steer me to some diaries on it, I'll happily link up. Meantime, John Amato at Crooks and Liars has a nice rundown of the bullsh- erm, controversy.)
Naturally, and quite reasonably, our side has been quick to defend her. This is good.
But how many of you still think Rush is fat?
As far as I know, I'm way fatter than him. Doesn't seem to affect my songwriting. I'm not gonna be modeling swimsuits anytime soon, is all.
Doesn't make me any more, or less, progressive.
All I'm saying is precisely what we said about Dubya invading a sovereign nation without cause, about torture, about whatever we've nailed them on their hypocrisy for: If one side does it, the other side can use that to justify their doing it.
Fat jokes, sexual innuendo, and the like are not germane to the conversation. They reduce us to insulting buffoons. They are an invasion and critique of peoples' personal lives and habits, a violation of privacy and an ugly, reactionary response no one deserves. We're better than that.
Which is why I don't engage in sexual innuendo about Coulter and Malkin, or fat jokes about Rush Limbaugh. I don't care what they look like, how much they weigh, even who they are involved with; what matters is what they say and do.
And, under those standards, we don't need fat jokes and innuendo. They already give us a hell of a lot of ammo.
Update: A number of commenters point out that Rush has insulted people for years. That's part of my point -- not going after his weight gives us the moral high ground by default.
There are also people who mention that his size is a great physical metaphor for the hypocrisy of the Republican party, especially the whole "personal responsibility" thing. Again, though, that [a] launches friendly fire at the overweight people on our side, [b] ignores those with medical conditions aggravating their weight, and [c] reduces the debate to schoolyard shouting. Or an outtake from The Producers: "Gimme those books!" "Fat fat fatty!" "Gimme those books!" "Fat fat fatty!"
And, for those who've mentioned what Franken was trying to do with his title, i.e., emphasize that the Repubs do in fact carry on like children, and show how ludicrous their "debate" tactics are... that doesn't change the fact that many on our side still go after Rush's weight.
I'm trying to remember who wrote it -- might've been Spider Robinson -- but he recounted an anecdote of someone calling someone else fat. The response was, "Yeah, but I can lose the weight, and you'll still be awful."
(And that's another thing. Losing weight is not easy. Those of you who think it is haven't tried it. Heck, I've had people give me ten minutes on how they can't seem to lose weight, and then they say, "Tom, you've gotta drop a few pounds." If only.)