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Feb 22 2011

Fit to Speak

Rush Limbaugh has, as usual, been saying some incredibly stupid things. In this case, he’s suggesting that Michelle Obama is a hypocrite for suggesting people try to improve their eating habits because she doesn’t look like a supermodel or starlet.

There’s plenty of idiocy here that should be noted. However, there are good and bad ways to go about it. Dana Milbank gets it all wrong in the Washington Post:

Limbaugh is in an excellent position to make this observation, being perhaps the finest example of the male form since Michelangelo sculpted David. In 2009, he went on a fad diet, full of controversial supplements but little exercise, and lost 90 pounds. Such crash diets are dangerous – and, sure enough, Limbaugh wound up in the hospital at the end of the year with chest pains. Judging from recent video footage, he has regained most of the bulk.

The problem, of course, it that Limbaugh’s attractiveness is not the reason he’s wrong. His personal history with diets and weight loss and gain are not the reason.

He’s wrong because he can’t be bothered to say (or perhaps know) what Obama’s message regarding food actually is. She’s trying to help Americans make healthier choices about food. She’s trying to encourage them, not to stop indulging, but to indulge less often.

Neither of these messages needs to be delivered by a supermodel. In fact, they may well be better delivered by someone the average American can identify with. A person doesn’t have to be “pure” in their relationship to food (where “pure” somehow equals skinny) in order to talk about it. Limbaugh is dead wrong on this point.

And despite Milbank’s digression, Limbaugh’s message would be just as wrong if it were delivered by the very thin Ann Coulter. It would be just as wrong if Limbaugh were to say that he could never deliver an effective message on food and nutrition.

All Milbank is doing is adding to the chorus of people saying we have to be skinny to be heard on this issue. He’s contributing to the problem he’s calling out. That doesn’t help anyone.

Let’s stay focused on the real issues in this situation. If you need some help figuring out how to talk about it, check out Mike Bruno’s post for Entertainment Weekly. If he can get this right while working for a traditionally image-obsessed industry, I think we all can.

6 comments

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  1. 1
    Becca

    Well said. Although I'm not so sure Rush could deliver an effective message on healthy eating and nutrition, if he has this history of crash diet and then regaining weight. Unless his message was simply "loosing weight, and keeping it off is hard- harder than a simple whitehouse slogan can characterize". Anything else, and I would have trouble with his credibility on it. Not because he is fat, but because he does not seem to know how to stay healthy (it's one thing to know how to be healthy but be imperfect, or even to know how to be healthy and fail completely. it's another thing to promote something dangerously unhealthy)

  2. 2
    Coogan

    Limbaugh isn't even wrong: his comments are completely beside the point. He would accuse her of being racist against blacks if it served his purpose. I'm also quite sure someone could find a comment or two of hers that would appear to bear out that (erroneous) assertion.When you need an excuse, any excuse will do. Limmy (apparently) needs a reason to trash Michelle Obama. As if. This is just what he chose. This time.

  3. 3
    Jason Thibeault

    I suspect Rushbo was just off his Oxycontin that day. Seems to make him cranky.

  4. 4
    Heather M. Rosa

    Jason, is he ever off his self-indulgent meds? Or his self-indulgence, period? He'll say anything to pad his… pockets, regardless of logic or of consequences. Anybody notice he never attacked Laura Bush for trying to "force us" to read? Apparently, reading is outside his experience, thus beneath his notice, while over-indulgent eating obviously isn't.

  5. 5
    Becca

    Heather- you are missing the gender politics. Have you seen Barack? The man clearly eats carrots, or tofu, or something. Ergo, he listens to his wife. Ergo, having him as a model will unmake all of American society and doom everyone to limpity limpity!!!11 Laura was not a threat, because it was abundantly obvious she never actually got George to read.

  6. 6
    Heather M. Rosa

    "My Pet Goat" doesn't count?

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