That Barack Obama invoked Gandhi’s name reveals delicious irony as it posits morality with “unlimited sex”, in Rush Limbaugh’s immortal words.
I’d like to draw your attention not to the moral versus the amoral, but to the two moral paradigms here. While Limbaugh can be taken to the laundry, the President can only be accused of basking in reflected glory. I don’t see what the fuss is about using the names of the ‘sainted ones’. It is election time:
“Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, what they did was hard. It takes time. It takes more than a single term. It takes more than a single president. It takes more than a single individual. What it takes is ordinary citizens who keep believe, who are committed to fighting and pushing and inching this country closer and closer to our highest ideals. And I said in 2008, that I am not a perfect man and I will not be a perfect president. But I promised you, but I promised you, I promised you back then that I would always tell you what I believe. I would always tell you where I stood.”
One does not need to be an expert to decode this. He wants one more term, and he wants the “ordinary citizens” to take responsibility for what the establishment has mucked up. “Highest ideals” are vague, so how would these ordinary citizens know how to get there? The idea of a flawed leader is rather romantic, especially if he admits it himself. It is a game of defence, and alludes to the possibility that despite the imperfections he would tell you where he stood. Look here: An imperfect man is leading the way and you have no choice but to lend a hand even if he is taking you to the edge of the cliff. Does the American, then, know where he stood?
But you know where Rush Limbaugh stands. He has an opinion on reproductive healthcare for women. It is not a policy decision; it is his personal opinion, however chauvinistic it is:
“What does it say about the college co-ed Sandra Fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex, what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex. What does that make us? We’re the pimps.”
This is the moral high ground, the ultra conservative, as people like to say. He obviously does not believe in choice. Yet, is he the one who is insulting women who get paid to have sex? Or is it the liberals who found the comments “reprehensible” because they need one totem to use and Sandra Fluke is that card? What if a commercial sex worker had raised the issue in a Congressional testimony to say that insurance companies should fully cover birth control for all women? Would Mr. Obama call on her cellphone, as he did in this case to convey “disappointment that she has been the subject of inappropriate personal attacks and to thank her for exercising her rights as a citizen to speak out on an issue of public policy”?
If Americans had all these rights, they would not be occupying streets to push for many of these issues. Isn’t healthcare a sore point? It is not Gandhi-Mandela that the President has used, but Ms. Fluke. Rush Limbaugh got it wrong when he perceived the Mahatma reference as a comparison and reportedly mocked him because the “moral example is making us provide contraception for women who want unlimited sex”. This is amusing. Gandhi would not have liked contraception, for he was an advocate and adherent of celibacy.
And it is unlikely that Gandhi would have said this:
“I think both the Iranian and the Israeli governments recognize that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say. I don’t bluff.”
Sure. The lines between the moral, the amoral and the immoral are blurred. One can be relatively certain that Barack Obama has a healthcare plan for this too. A condom for the Iranian bomb?
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Images: Daily Mail and The Guardian