It’s a typical Saturday morning, and around my house that means ice skating. My older daughter had a lesson with a coach at one local skating rink, and my younger daughter had another lesson at another rink. It’s a good thing that we have two cars and two drivers to acommodate them.
After I drove my little one to her practice, paid her coach, tied up her skates, and made sure she got onto the ice OK, I stood and watched her for a few minutes. I was bursting inside with my feelings of pride and love for her. Earlier in my life, before I had kids of my own, I would have considered such thoughts sappy and suspect in some way. But now, having crossed over to the other side, I completely understand them. That’s just how it works.
After leaving the ice rink area, I came upon a news story about Sandra Fluke, Rush Limbaugh, and President Obama. As I watched the story, the afterglow of my thoughts about my young daughter brought the story home to me in a way that I otherwise would not have considered. And of course the first thing I wanted to do was capture those thoughts in this space, before everyday life comes in and strips the story of any meaning.
I love my daughters so much that I would kill for them, if it ever came to some outlandish situation where that would be necessary. I don’t want to do that, and I’m not a killer on any other level, but I would do it without any hesitation or regret. And, on the other end of that spectrum, I would lay down my life for them, if another situation were to arise where it would be needed. I love my life, but I love them more. And I would hope that every parent feels this way.
When filtered through this lens, the difference between Rush Limbaugh and Barack Obama became crystal clear to me. Obama is a parent; Limbaugh is not. That’s why Obama called Sandra Fluke, and mentioned her parents in the phone call. It wasn’t meant to score political points for him, although surely that’s what’s happening. The reason for the phone call is that Obama has that kill for/die for thing about his own children, and he acted on that in order to reach out to a young woman who is in a difficult place right now.
And who put her into this difficult place? A man who has no children himself, and almost certainly lacks the kill for/die for thing that Obama has, and that I have, and that perhaps you have. Limbaugh could apologize, as some people seem to want, but he won’t mean it. It would be a grudging, carefully-worded sentence if it ever comes at all, and it will be done for the sole purpose of saving millions of dollars in ad sales for his radio show. I doubt that it will come, and if it does, it won’t change the fact that he lacks–and always will lack–the kill for/die for thing within himself.
Am I judging him? Not really. He is what he is, and I’m too charitable and too rushed for time (no pun intended) to try to spell that out here. And I’m not saying parents are any better than non-parents. This is not meant to put me or anyone else on a pedestal. But it is meant to suggest that Limbaugh did what he did for a reason, and Obama did what he did for an entirely different reason. And I’m glad that the one I identify with is the one who’s running the country.
UPDATE: Limbaugh did issue an apology on his website on Saturday. It was far more direct than anything I had expected to see from him. But he has lost many advertisers over this, and he deserves every bit of the losses he incurs.