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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.)

Originally posted to Music To Save The World By on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 08:27 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Thank you, thank you, thank you (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      timewarp, aurabass, luckylizard, tnproud2b

      When I started reading the diaries and comments about Dr. Regina Benjamin the same thought crossed my mind - the DKOS community is quick to comment on the appearance of the people we don't like, Limbaugh being the most common. It is hard to find a diary, and most comments, about Limbaugh that do not include the word fat. Yet we rise up in arms when people we support have their appearance mentioned in a negative way. We are hypocrites.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 08:47:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think a lot of people are, myself included. (0+ / 0-)

      It's one of those medical conditions that, IN THEORY, we should (individually -- remember that "individual responsibility" argument foisted by the Right) be able to take care of ourselves.

      Because of those reasons, I don't think you're going to be able to take "Fat Jokes" off the table until we find out what it is in our food supply (or containers or air or water or WTF) that is systematically causing people to BE FAT.

      Until then, it is being used to judge people that seemingly do not care enough to do "the right thing" or care too much about the wrong things.

      Rightly or wrongly.

      Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
      I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
      -Spike Milligan

      by polecat on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 08:55:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'd say corn syrup is the culpret. (0+ / 0-)

        But I don't know.  I'm not a pro of any kind.  I say corn syrup because, for instance, pictures of people in the 50s and before were more lean, before corn syrup replaced sugar as the main sweetener in all food products.  Ahem.  Please notice I did not say "not fat".  ;-)  I mean, look at a DVD about Woodstock and try to find someone overweight.  And that generation was called the Pepsi generation that starts with the drop of a cap, if I remember the ad correctly.  I remember the cap real well, in any case.  People in those days who used to drink many colas a day, myself among them, did not even bloat.  Diabetes was less of a problem as well.  Sugar was the only sweetener involved at that time.  

        I'd say poverty in my youth, and now the competitive vanity of not wanting a belly as big as my father's has kept me in 30 inch waisted pants, more than anything else.  I won't even grow a mustache because I look more like him when I do otherwise.  We didn't get along, in case you didn't catch that drift.  Whatever.  When my pants get tight, I just eat less.  Having done without by necessity for so many years, going to sleep just mentally over-riding the hunger pangs I experienced manys the night, doing without not is no big deal for me now.  

        None of that is a comment of someone who is not thin.  It's only open sharing, like this diary, which I found refreshing and do agree with completely.  It is true, scoffing Limbaugh for his weight is not only missing the point, it is being as off point as Limbaugh generally is.  Not that he actually deals with real points to be off them.  Which is the point that should be focused on in any railing about him, seems to me.  He is a power tripping liar who is over paid and over glorified for his lack of scruples.  Metaphorically he is a pig.  But not because of his weight.  He is a pig because he squeals all the time, and takes more than he gives.  We'd have called him a pig 40 years ago without any reference to his weight.  I mean, can you imagine Limbaugh in a Santa costume?  I can't.  The thought of momma kissing a Limbaugh Santa after he twitch-noses his way through a place of fire to give material things and scarf leftovers in every house is a huge turn off that makes me want to belch.

        Efectus nihil profundus sub pensus est

        by Riddlebaugh on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 10:07:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Tip anyway. +4 /nt (0+ / 0-)

      Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
      I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
      -Spike Milligan

      by polecat on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 08:55:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I like to think that Franken chose the title (0+ / 0-)

      partly because the publisher wouldn't go for "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fucking Idiot".

      They only call it Class War when we fight back.

      by lineatus on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 09:50:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Rush has no problem talking about others looks! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    smkngman, Wildthumb


  •  I liked your diary a lot; you could even title it (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MsSpentyouth, polecat, Catte Nappe, satrap

    Enough with the freakin' fat jokes freakin' skinny jokes freakin' hair jokes freakin' skin jokes freakin' appearance jokes

    And I would still recommend this diary.  

    I like meta.

    Republicans are walking the socio Path.

    by 88kathy on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 08:35:05 AM PDT

  •  I like Michael Moore (8+ / 0-)

    just saying.

    Yeah, I used to be 320 pounds (6 feet tall); I have weighed between 180-195 for the past 13 years but still don't like people to be degraded because of their weight.

    When liberals saw 9-11, we wondered how we could make the country safe. When conservatives saw 9-11, they saw an investment opportunity.

    by onanyes on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 08:36:53 AM PDT

  •  As an FFG (9+ / 0-)

    former fat girl, I agree.  The only time I read anything that was actually on point re: Rush's weight -- and sorry, I can't remember whom to credit, it had to do with his bloviating about anyone else's self-discipline.  The writer pointed out that he was a poster boy for complete lack of discipline re: his weight, drug addictions, marriages, foot in mouth disease.

    It isn't how he looks, it is his complete and utter lack of honesty, credibility and moral compass.  Unfortunately, obesity remains an easy target for ridicule == we see it here often on many levels.

    •  Actually, that is the whole point (0+ / 0-)

      When I mention Limbaugh's weight, it's partly to point out that he clearly has chosen to be a tub of lard, and therefore he can surely handle the consequences.

      Because I really would love to hear that shithead start complaining that his weight isn't really his fault.  It would be glorious to be on the phone when he started doing that.  The takedown would be staggeringly gorgeous.

      Modern Conservatism in 3 words: "Taxez iz, bad!"

      by slippytoad on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 08:47:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ummm... I'M a tub of lard, didn't I mention? (0+ / 0-)

        I am very much responsible for my being fat.  No question, no argument, no doubt, no obfuscation.  I had a job in the financial industry, and I sat at a desk for twenty years and ate.

        I have a number of friends in the same boat.

        I also have several who have medical conditions that have made them fat.

        What I'm saying is that, no matter what anyone says or thinks, your weight does not reflect upon you as a person.  It's what you say, what you do.

        Tom Smith Online
        Music In Every Style... Except Dull

        by filkertom on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 08:53:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  You'd expect the "leader" of the party for (0+ / 0-)

      "individual responsibility" to care enough about himself to stay fit, right?

      /dripping sarcasm.

      Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
      I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
      -Spike Milligan

      by polecat on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 08:57:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  spot on (0+ / 0-)

      My weight varies between 250-300 lbs and when I was able to work (that is physical labor) I was not fat compared to a good many lighter people (the same way many NFL players are obese by weight charts along). Since I am no longer able to work and due to other health factors, now it is fat. However, not all "fatness" is due to gluttony.  Nerve damage can cause muscle atrophy even when that muscle is being regularly exercised as can neurological disease. What was once muscle easily turns to fat.

      However, Rush's claims of neurological damage to his spine and I still have yet to see why Rush is on megadoses of pain killers except for the fact he is rich

  •  Rush Limbaugh (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MsSpentyouth, boran2, leonard145b, satrap

    is a nasty, small-minded little man.

  •  This is a public forum, are you serious? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The only requirement to be a "Keyboard Commando" and shout opinions is access to a keyboard attached to an ISP. With anonymity, a whole lot of people lose all inhibitions and give in to their worst impulses. There is no solution to this, so just sit back and enjoy it, it is really funny sometimes.

    I voted with my feet. Good Bye and Good Luck America!!

    by shann on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 08:38:58 AM PDT

  •  But wasn't Franken's title... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MsSpentyouth, The Raven, PurpleMyst

    ...more of an ironic turn of phrase? I mean, I can't speak for him, but was his title literally calling out Limbaugh as "fat", or was it, as I always thought, used more ironically: playing the name-calling game as a way of calling out the childishness of what passes for political discourse?

    •  It was idiomatic (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      timewarp, Ezekial 23 20

      As in, "big fat liar." The phrase, "big fat" appears in several common constructions, such as, "shut your big fat mouth." The word 'fat' serves as an intensifier in such cases.

      With respect to Limbaugh, his obesity is part of the overall package and because he is a villain, pretty much everything about him is fair game, including his drug use, overseas sex junkets, whatever.

      Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

      by The Raven on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 08:56:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Rush Limbaugh is *not* fat. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TexasDemocrat, PBen, entlord1, satrap

    He's just swollen with pulsing evil.

  •  I have no problem... (0+ / 0-)

    calling Rush fat. He is a fat bastard!

    He hates america and he's a fraud!

    Fuck U Rush. Go to hell!

  •  eh, I'm fat and I call him a planet (0+ / 0-)

    It's official: the average woman has a bigger dick than Harry Reid.

    by ronin122 on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 08:53:50 AM PDT

  •  Rush has been overtaken by the culture (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    He's not even especially obnoxious by the prevailing conservative standard.  I dislike his show more because of his rambling indiscipline than anything else.  He could do a much more compelling show, by wingnut standards, if he had only half the time.  But then his show wouldn't fulfill its essential function of occupying mid-day airtime at smallish AM stations, and he wouldn't be the 500 million dollar man.

    Al que no le guste el caldo, le dan dos tazas.

    by Rich in PA on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 08:55:27 AM PDT

  •  it is just that he is such a perfect metaphor (0+ / 0-)

     bloated, cigar - errrr - chomping symbol of excess and lazy thought.

     But you are right - the skin crawling odious creepiness he emits has nothing to do with his appearance - it is the debasing of the public discourse - the self-loathing willingness to appeal to the lowest common denominator - the total absence of pride or sense of American achievement - instead to roll deeply and fully in the sewage and fetid waste of the gutter parts of our politics  that makes him so repulsive.

  •  Right on. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe

    I SO agree with this diary!  We need to get away from jokes about ANYONE's personal appearance.  The ad hominem attack is the tactic most favored by those (read:  the Right) who don't have logic or evidence on their side.  A brilliant ad was done last year where a woman was portrayed talking logically to a wingnut, who snarls in response: "you're a LIBRULL!!" So yeah, let's try to avoid such things if we can.

    --And I am a former working cowboy, a trim and fit 160 lb. But I still avoid ad hominem attacks at all costs.

    Good post.

  •  Good (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe, satrap

    But not really a defense of Rush, it's more a guide to attacking him properly.

  •  I say call this monster of media (0+ / 0-)

    any damned name we can think of. When I think of the damage that he and his ilk have done to this country,
    the amount of hate and polarization that they have ginned up to gain ratings and money and power, calling him fat doesn't offend me at all. Sorry. And stop with the misleading titles: it's dishonest and sneaky and a cheap way to get attention. Do it straight and up front.

  •  T'is sweetest when the engineer is hoist upon (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe

    his own petard (with apologies to Shakespeare and Hamlet)
    I remember when Rush was outted about Oxy after his making a career of ranting about Roger Clinton and drugs. I also remember Rush putting himself forth as a great athlete (claiming to have been a HS football hero and a golfer with a 300 yard drive), only to be outted as not having been a HS athlete and his golf game is somewhat questionable.

    So maybe calling attention to his considerable mass is off the reservation but OTOH sometimes frustration does reveal our darker sides    

  •  It's not Rush's fat body. . . (0+ / 0-)

    . . .that is the issue. It's Rush's FAT HEAD with nothing but vaccuum between his ears.

  •  Afraid I have to disagree (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Vita Brevis

    Rush's flabbiness isn't irrelevant. Glen Greenwald pointed this out--I can't find the link, but the essence of what he said was:

    Right-wingers talk tough, and they set themselves up as arbiters of masculinity--they decide that John Kerry doesn't have it and John McCain and Fred Thompson (of all people) do.

    Then Greenwald juxtaposed the tough-guy statements of Limbaugh, Karl Rove, Jonah Goldberg, and others with pictures of them in all their flabby, sedentary, get-winded-walking-to-the-refrigerator glory. The contrast was startling, even for me (and I already knew Rush was a big fat idiot).

    The fact is, pointing out that right-wingers talk tough and masculine because they're not is a very good way to counteract what is otherwise an effective tactic (just ask Mike Dukakis).

    I don't mean to say that fatness per se is a sign that someone's weak or wimpy. But there is a type of fatness that comes from a life of taking the elevator down one flight, and that's the type Limbaugh, Rove, Goldberg, and their crowd have. Seriously, look at pictures of them (if you can stand it)

  •  I agree with you (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    However, we ought to understand what Al Franken's book was attempting to do. It was deliberately satirizing Rush's habit of attacking the appearance of whoever disagrees with him. Franken was demonstrating that the same type of ridicule could easily be applied to Rush. He was deflating Rush's bullying tactics by turning them against him, but he was also showing how silly it was. The title is so clearly childish and over-the-top that it's not meant to be taken seriously. Franken more or less says as much at various times throughout the book, explaining that his real objective is to mock Limbaugh's meanness, not his weight.

  •  I'm guilty and I apologize. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I called him a blimp and, after reading your diary, I want to say I was wrong to do that. But he's still an asshole.

    "It does not require many words to speak the truth." -- Chief Joseph, native American leader (1840-1904)

    by highfive on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 09:15:43 AM PDT

  •  I agree (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe

    People, on either side, shouldn't reduce themselves and their arguments by resorting to personal attacks and pot shots. It doesn't do anything but make you look like a jerk.

    Here's a question though. Without the anonymity of the internet and screen names, how many people would actually say some of the vitriol I've seen to the person's face? Would you say some of these things where that person's family might here you and be able to see you? Could you look them in the eye and spew that venom?

    If not then you may want to rethink your tactics. If yes, well you may want to do some introspection on that and wonder if you'd want someone attacking you like that to your face.

    I speak from experience being made fun of my whole life, both to my face and behind my back. It's just something to think about.

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