It was a classic Rush Limbaugh performance Monday morning — attacking relentlessly, as usual, against the ideological foes he demonizes daily.

But then there was that apology he snuck in. An apology? From El Rushbo? In the parlance of "Animal House," that sort of makes him "A wimp and a blimp."

A "blimp" not because of his girth, but because the hot-air Limbaugh express is notorious for taking no prisoners as it surfs the airwaves. A wimp because he nevertheless apologized, presumably to help quell unrest among his advertisers and Republicans, some of whom were actually forced to denounce him.

Of course, the apology came while simultaneously remaining on the attack, saying that by labeling a Georgetown law student a "slut" and "prostitute," "against my own instincts … I descended to their level."

"Their level," of course, would be the one occupied by liberals, who Limbaugh makes clear every day are not merely on the opposite side of issues, but his enemy. And he quickly turned the discussion away from Sandra Fluke, the target of his vitriol last week, to Barack Obama's "socialist agenda" and the healthcare-reform debate.

Still, I can't help but ask "Why apologize?" If Fluke is a Democratic flunky and activist, as Limbaugh again charged on Monday, then why retreat at all? Why mince words, or devote nearly 45 minutes to discussing the situation? Somehow, the "I descended to their level" explanation sounds hollow, since the host descends to that level — indeed, steadfastly swims around in it, in terms of ridicule and name-calling — daily. It's part of his formula, and at this point, anyone apt to be offended probably knows better than to tune in.

"All of this, folks, is political," Limbaugh said, reiterating his assertion that "the Left" "treats pregnancy like a disease."

Limbaugh insisted his only commitment is to the audience, and acted unconcerned about the sponsors who have fled. "We'll replace them," he said, implying that those who dropped the show no longer want his audience's business. Consider that a not-so-lovely parting gift.

Still, trying to apologize while continuing to verbally bash Democrats sounded a bit too much like "I know you are but what am I?," even for Rush. And he let out one howler of a falsehood, saying conservatives never try to silence anybody by pressuring their advertisers. This might come as news to, among others, Brent Bozell and the mini-empire of advocacy groups he founded, including the Parents Television Council.

It's unclear whether this episode will diminish Limbaugh in the long term, or whether Republican politicians will continue to kowtow to him and his vast audience of "Ditto-heads" quite so obsequiously.

But for the last few days, anyway, Limbaugh has done something we've seldom seen from him through the years: Not just trip over his own venomous tongue, but then proceed to tie himself into knots with it.

 

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