David Montgomery, reporting for The Washington Post:
To Rush Limbaugh on Monday, Michael J. Fox looked like a faker. The actor, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, has done a series of political ads supporting candidates who favor stem cell research, including Maryland Democrat Ben Cardin, who is running against Republican Michael Steele for the Senate seat being vacated by Paul Sarbanes.
“He is exaggerating the effects of the disease,” Limbaugh told listeners. “He’s moving all around and shaking and it’s purely an act. … This is really shameless of Michael J. Fox. Either he didn’t take his medication or he’s acting.”
It’s hard to watch, because the disease has quite obviously taken a toll on Fox, but it’s a powerful and honest commercial, and I encourage you to watch it. Fox is not distorting the position of the Republicans these ads are targeting, and he is not exaggerating the promise of stem cell research. Anyone who suspects David Montgomery is quoting Limbaugh out of context can listen to the entire clip from Limbaugh’s show here.
Some of you may feel that this is too political for Daring Fireball. But I’m not calling Limbaugh a jackass because I disagree with his politics on this issue. I’m calling him a jackass — and it’s taking a lot of restraint not to call him something far worse — because his response to Fox’s honest, genuine advocacy regarding an important, serious issue is one of the lowest, most demeaning cheap shots I’ve ever seen.
Update: Several readers have emailed to point out that the article in The Post claims that Limbaugh “apologized”, quoting him as follows:
“So I will bigly, hugely admit that I was wrong, and I will apologize to Michael J. Fox, if I am wrong in characterizing his behavior on this commercial as an act.”
Then Limbaugh pivoted to a different critique: “Michael J. Fox is allowing his illness to be exploited and in the process is shilling for a Democratic politician.”
So, according to Limbaugh, Fox’s condition disqualifies him from speaking on the issue. I.e. that it’s unfair to generate support for stem cell research by showing how sad this disease is.
I’m sure Michael J. Fox will feel terribly exploited if he lives to see the day that a cure for Parkinson’s Disease is found.
Update Redux: Some apology. Limbaugh, today: “I stand by what I said. I take back none of what I said. I wouldn’t rephrase it any differently. It is what I believe; it is what I think. It is what I have found to be true.”