Politics as a dirty joke? How foul mouths push the real issues into the background

Reading the headlines, listening to the chatter on the political talk shows, I sometimes get seized by an intense desire to retreat to a cabin in the north woods where the sneering of Rush Limbaugh or the hard-eyed anger of Chris Matthews do not reach. Then, realizing that there no doubt would be lawn to cut and plumbing to fix, I return resignedly to the fray and, as my spouse would say, try to take it like a woman.

Where to start in trying to make sense of what is so often is nonsense?

Take the brouhaha over Rush Limbaugh’s nasty language concerning the woman who testified before Congress that Catholic institutions like hospitals, radio stations, and charities should be forced to provide insurance coverage for birth control, including abortion pills and sterilization, no matter what their conscience demands.

The real issue is the Constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion, but it seems no one wants to talk about that. We go off on tangents, which reluctantly I agree bear scrutiny but distract from what is really vital.

Have no doubt: I consider Rush’s insults piggish and do not listen to his radio fulminations. I first became acquainted with him driving through the farm country of Missouri, Iowa, and Illinois. His program was about all I could find as I passed through miles and miles of and where my only companions were the cows staring at me over the fences.

But I do have to note the double standard. Ed Schultz of MSNBC called talk show host Laura Ingraham a “right-wing slut” on the air and it was hardly noticed. To the credit of MSNBC, Schultz was suspended for a week, but his foul mouth raised nothing of the fury that met Limbaugh’s crassness. What’s more, Barbara Walters on The View got a chuckle from the incident. Laura quickly accepted an apology and forgave. Limbaugh’s victim will accept no apology.

Now I hear that so-called comedian Bill Maher of HBO referred to Sara Palin more than once by a vile term for her reproductive organs. Where were the mainstream media when that was polluting our air waves? This, I read, from a man who contributed a million dollars to President Obama’s campaign coffers.

Maher is noted for his denigration of women and their body parts. I get the impression that he was the homely little snot in high school who found he could get attention by turning his mouth into an open sewer. I occasionally watch part of his show, and am struck not only by the fact that he is a nasty little guy but that he is not particularly intelligent or informed.

Oh, by the way, President Obama phoned the lady who was insulted by Limbaugh. I wonder if he’s called Bill Maher yet.

Meanwhile, the ranting goes on, for the most part missing the point. Of course, Rush Limbaugh needs to be slapped down, as well as the other potty mouths I’ve mentioned, but at some point we need to discuss the really vital issues, which do not include what some faiths believe about contraception but definitely include how much power our Government should have in controlling our lives.

Sometimes you have to just grin and bear it. Like the guy who wrote a letter to the editor saying that birth control should be just as accessible as chemotherapy. I have to ask: Is a woman’s miraculous ability to create human life a form of cancer? Is pregnancy a disease?

No wonder I am urged to take it like a woman.

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Stan Latreille is a novelist, blogger, lawyer, former newspaperman, and a retired Circuit Court judge. He is the author of "Perjury" and is working on a new novel, tentatively titled "Absolution."