Rush Limbaugh's race to the bottom

Bend over, grab your ankles and submit to a mind-blowing rundown of the radio bully's obsessive butt talk!

Published May 21, 2009 10:19AM (EDT)

Critics say that Rush Limbaugh likes to talk out of his ass. But that's only half the story: Rush can't stop talking about butt, either. It's too bad that Sigmund Freud's long dead, because Rush is the old shrink's dream patient, with an obvious diagnosis: Limbaugh has an anal fixation.

Rush is riding high; on Wednesday he made headlines with a faux-resignation as head of the Republican Party, handing the reins over to nemesis Colin Powell. But even as his power in the party grows, El Rushbo remains fixated on political humiliation -- his, and other people's -- and it's amazing how frequently such humiliation focuses on the hind quarters.

Last week, Limbaugh lamented that President Obama will likely get away with destroying the economy, because "he's being followed around by a bunch of sycophants who are going to die of anal poisoning" -- a disease that Google suggests Limbaugh himself invented. Most notoriously, the talk radio king complained in January: "We are being told that we have to hope [Obama] succeeds, that we have to bend over, grab the ankles, bend over forward, backward, whichever, because his father was black, because this is the first black president."

Limbaugh's tuchis talk is so constant, it doesn't seem to be just the joking around of a clown. (Is it mere coincidence that he got out of serving in Vietnam because of an anal cyst?) When he talks so vividly about being, well, taken by the president, there has to be a little psychosexual stuff going on.  Anal rape jokes, in particular, are a running theme for Limbaugh. In fact, they're one of his favorite ways of describing acquiescence or obedience. Note the recurring racial theme.

  • When gay activists called for a boycott of Colorado in the early 1990s, Denver Mayor Wellington Webb came to New York to seek the support of his fellow African-American city chief, Mayor David Dinkins. Limbaugh saw Dinkins being pulled in two directions: "And the question is should he bend over forward and grab the ankles for this narrow special interest group or should he remain in solidarity with his black bro?"
  • In the run-up to New Jersey's 1993 gubernatorial election, Limbaugh said that the only people who'd vote for Democrat Jim Florio were those willing to "bend over, grab their ankles" and accept new taxes.
  • The Clinton administration's proposal for healthcare reform was a command, as Limbaugh wrote, to "Bend over, America."
  • When Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman sought to court African-American votes by apologizing for his party's past, Limbaugh grumbled, "Republicans are going to go bend over and grab the ankles."
  • Three years later, he accused Democrats of being submissive to black and gay voters. "Democrats will bend over, grab the ankles, and say, 'Have your way with me,' for 10 percent and 2 percent of the population?"

Occasionally, though, someone shows the proper defiance.

  • When Sarah Palin refused to cooperate with investigations of Troopergate, Rush glowed approvingly: "She didn't bend over and let them have their way." 

And those who do willingly submit get nothing but contempt from Limbaugh. A favored term of abuse for these is "butt boy."

  • CNN's Ed Henry is Obama's "butt boy," but ABC's Jake Tapper, to his credit, is not.
  • NBC's Andrea Mitchell, somewhat confusingly, is the "butt boy" to Rep. Barney Frank.

Of course, bending over has its risks. As we saw last week with his reference to Obama sycophants, Limbaugh has a very specific formulation for what you can catch from too much of it.

  • Democratic honcho Terry McAuliffe, Limbaugh warned, "will die of anal poisoning because he is so close to drilling Hillary [Clinton]."
  • Key John McCain ally Sen. Lindsey Graham "is certainly close enough to [McCain] to die of anal poisoning."
  • And if British Prime Minister Gordon Brown continues "slobbering" over Obama, he'll "come down with anal poisoning and die from it."

That's probably why Limbaugh is so wary of bending over himself. He's told us so many times:

  • "I have a very sensitive rear end because I am a sensitive guy."
  • "I never bend over forward in public, especially in these times."
  • "I dropped something, is what the confusion is here and I -- in -- in New York City I never bend over forward. And -- so -- in public. So I needed somebody to come pick it up for me."
  • "I seldom bend over forward in public, for obvious reasons."

Still, sometimes it's nearly impossible for a public figure to avoid being probed anally.

  • When Adm. Bobby Ray Inman didn't want to take an administration job, Limbaugh sympathized. "He -- he decided not to undergo the congressional and media rectal exam that being nominated for a Cabinet post -- that's what this is, folks. Somebody's got something somewhere that he just doesn't want probed."
  • The 1996 Republican nominee was bound to get "the biggest ... rectal exam." 

Limbaugh even thinks anal rape is funny when it's no joke. He's played testimony from a rape trial just for laughs; here he is talking about a rape victim:

LIMBAUGH: Now she's on the stand in our first video clip here trying to explain when this happened. I think she got raped or some such thing like that, and -- and she's trying to explain to the jury and the judge and all the lawyers, everybody in court, how it happens. And -- well, just watch. It speaks for itself.

Unidentified Woman: He lifted my nightgown and he put his finger in my rectum ...

Falls forward


Unidentified Voice: ... unintelligible

End of excerpt; laughter

LIMBAUGH: I'm so -- I'm so -- I'm trying not to laugh, as you can see ...

Trying not to laugh at that -- well, aren't we all? But no wonder he thinks anal rape can be funny. The only part of a woman Limbaugh seems to be able to see is her badonkadonk.

  • In 1993, his crew adjusted a studio camera as he said of a woman in the audience, "There she is, from the rear. That's as much as you'll ever see of her, ladies and gentlemen. She wants it that way."
  • Apparently flirting, Limbaugh told a female guest in 1996, "I recognized you from behind."
  • In one particularly notorious comment, Limbaugh -- who popularized the word "feminazi" -- said, "I love the women's movement. Especially when I'm walking behind it."

That's a ton of junk to come out of one trunk, even an oversize one. Rush's stream of caboose comments reads like fiction, as if he were a character from "Portnoy's Complaint." But as Limbaugh himself says, "We don't make anything up here, folks. We don't have to. Philip Roth, the great novelist -- he says, 'I'm going to stop writing novels. I can't make up anything more weird than real life.'" 

By Gabriel Winant

Gabriel Winant is a graduate student in American history at Yale.

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