Rush Limbaugh has, as usual, been saying some incredibly stupid things. In this case, he’s suggesting that Michelle Obama is a hypocrite for suggesting people try to improve their eating habits because she doesn’t look like a supermodel or starlet.
There’s plenty of idiocy here that should be noted. However, there are good and bad ways to go about it. Dana Milbank gets it all wrong in the Washington Post:
Limbaugh is in an excellent position to make this observation, being perhaps the finest example of the male form since Michelangelo sculpted David. In 2009, he went on a fad diet, full of controversial supplements but little exercise, and lost 90 pounds. Such crash diets are dangerous – and, sure enough, Limbaugh wound up in the hospital at the end of the year with chest pains. Judging from recent video footage, he has regained most of the bulk.
The problem, of course, it that Limbaugh’s attractiveness is not the reason he’s wrong. His personal history with diets and weight loss and gain are not the reason.
He’s wrong because he can’t be bothered to say (or perhaps know) what Obama’s message regarding food actually is. She’s trying to help Americans make healthier choices about food. She’s trying to encourage them, not to stop indulging, but to indulge less often.
Neither of these messages needs to be delivered by a supermodel. In fact, they may well be better delivered by someone the average American can identify with. A person doesn’t have to be “pure” in their relationship to food (where “pure” somehow equals skinny) in order to talk about it. Limbaugh is dead wrong on this point.
And despite Milbank’s digression, Limbaugh’s message would be just as wrong if it were delivered by the very thin Ann Coulter. It would be just as wrong if Limbaugh were to say that he could never deliver an effective message on food and nutrition.
All Milbank is doing is adding to the chorus of people saying we have to be skinny to be heard on this issue. He’s contributing to the problem he’s calling out. That doesn’t help anyone.
Let’s stay focused on the real issues in this situation. If you need some help figuring out how to talk about it, check out Mike Bruno’s post for Entertainment Weekly. If he can get this right while working for a traditionally image-obsessed industry, I think we all can.