On the March 8 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh referred to a March 8 New York Sun article, "Could [former Sen.] John Edwards [D-NC] Become the First Woman President?" to repeatedly mock Edwards as "the Breck Girl," who is "on tap now, according to one of the nation's largest abortion rights supporters, to become the first woman president in the United States." As Media Matters for America has previously noted, the phrase "first woman president" was that of Sun reporter Josh Gerstein and not from any of the story's sources. Gerstein himself, in a post on the Sun's politics weblog, characterized the "first woman president" phrase as "just a colorful way of summarizing" the "over-the-top rhetoric" of Kate Michelman, former president of NARAL Pro-Choice America and a senior adviser to the Edwards campaign.
Limbaugh declared that for "any further John Edwards news, we will use" Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman" and "Sisters are Doin' It For Themselves" by the Eurhythmics and Aretha Franklin "as official update theme [songs] for the Breck Girl," and later discussed "who would design and make Edwards' inaugural gown." Limbaugh asserted that Edwards "may not qualify for a Vera -- ahem -- Wang -- ahem -- model. You're listening to this, Ann Coulter. But there are plenty of other designers out there that the Breck Girl could use to design his inaugural gown." Right-wing pundit Ann Coulter touched off a firestorm March 2 by referring to Edwards as a "faggot" at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
Discussing Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM), Limbaugh said that "if the Breck Girl is going to be the first female president, then an actual Hispanic cannot be the first Hispanic president if he's elected. He's got to be something else." Limbaugh later declared that Richardson would be "the first North Korean president" because of his "affinity for Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung, the little pot-bellied dictator." Additionally, according to Limbaugh, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) "might be the first male president the Democrats have had in a while" because a "[t]esticle lockbox [has] been accumulating" recent Democratic presidential nominees.
As Media Matters has previously noted, Gerstein reported on March 8 that Edwards had been endorsed by Michelman, described in the article as "a veteran of the abortion-rights movement." Gerstein noted that author "Toni Morrison famously dubbed President Clinton America's 'first black president,' " and added that "the comments of a prominent feminist" -- Michelman -- "are provoking debate about who may lay a similar claim to the title of America's first woman president." Responding to the Media Matters item, Gerstein wrote in his blog post:
My story today about John Edwards's efforts to be as pro-woman as Senator Clinton has stirred up some hornets in the blogosphere and apparently even on the radio.
Media Matters sees the piece as part of a Right-wing conspiracy that involves questioning Edwards's masculinity by calling him the "Breck Girl" and by slurring him with an anti-gay vulgarity, as Ann Coulter notoriously did the other day.
My suggestion that Edwards' camp is offering him up as the next woman president was just a colorful way of summarizing Kate Michelman's over-the-top rhetoric about how supportive Edwards is of the female gender.
As Media Matters has noted, a conservative smear of Edwards as the "Breck Girl" often surfaced in media coverage of Edwards' 2004 bid for the White House. Indeed, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd referred to Edwards as the "Breck Girl" as recently as her February 14 column.
In addition to Limbaugh, under the banner "Another First," The Washington Times' Greg Pierce highlighted Gerstein's article in his March 9 "Inside Politics" column:
"Toni Morrison famously dubbed President Clinton America's 'first black president.' With that barrier broken, the comments of a prominent feminist are provoking debate about who may lay a similar claim to the title of America's first woman president," Josh Gerstein writes in the New York Sun.
"The candidate being touted as a torchbearer for women is not Senator Clinton, but one of her former colleagues, John Edwards. At a rally near the University of California, Berkeley campus this week, a veteran of the abortion-rights movement, Kate Michelman, asked and answered the question she gets most frequently about her decision to back the male former senator from North Carolina," Mr. Gerstein said.
" 'Why John Edwards, given the historic nature of our extraordinary campaign for the presidency this year with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and all the others?' Ms. Michelman asked as she warmed up the crowd for Mr. Edwards. 'I've gotten to know a lot of political leaders over the years that I've been an advocate for women's rights. I know the difference between those who advocate as a political position and those who understand the reality of women's lives.'
"Compared to Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Edwards is short an 'X' chromosome, but listening to Ms. Michelman, that is easy to forget. 'As a lawyer, as a senator, as a husband, as a father of two daughters, he understands the reality of women's lives. He understands the centrality of women's lives and experience to the health and well-being of society as a whole. ... He understands that on an extremely personal level,' she said.
"Her comments drew some quizzical looks, though if she had extended her argument to suggest that Mr. Edwards understood the plight of African Americans as well or better than Mr. Obama, some audible dissension would surely have arisen."
From the March 8 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
LIMBAUGH: Try this headline. Ann Coulter, if you're out there listening, listen to this headline in The New York Sun today. "Could John Edwards Become the First Woman President?" [laughing] It's by Josh Gerstein in The New York Sun. "Toni Morrison famously dubbed President Clinton America's first black president. With that barrier broken" [laughing] -- Obama, you hear that? The first black president barrier has been broken.
"With that barrier broken, the comments of a prominent feminist are provoking debate about who may lay a similar claim to the title of America's first woman president. The candidate being touted as a torchbearer for women is not" Mrs. Bill Clinton, "but instead one of her former colleagues, John Edwards." The Breck Girl. "At a rally near the University of California, Berkeley campus this week, a veteran of the abortion-rights movement, Kate Michelman, asked and answered the question she gets most frequently about her decision to back" the Breck Girl.
LIMBAUGH: Still, Michelman "acknowledges that some of her enthusiasm for" the Breck Girl "springs from an intangible affinity she can't quite explain. 'It's hard to describe. I'm inspired by' " this guy. So John Edwards on tap now, according to one of the nation's largest abortion rights supporters, to become the first woman president in the United States. And of course, the first -- the barrier is down. The first black president, Bill Clinton. That barrier is broken. [laughing] Sometimes all you can do is laugh at these people.
LIMBAUGH: This is interesting, too. This is from the Politico.com today. New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson's 2008 presidential campaign -- what -- if he's elected President, he'd be the first what president? It can't be Hispanic because he is Hispanic. And the way the Democrats identify for - I mean, if -- if the Breck Girl's going to be the first female President, then an actual Hispanic cannot be the first Hispanic president if he's elected. He's got to be something else. Bill Clinton was the first black President, but he's not black. So you can't say he's going to be called the first Hispanic president if he were to be elected. I don't know what first he would be, but to the Democrats, everybody running on their side's a first something.
LIMBAUGH: We figured it out during the commercial break. If Bill Richardson would happen to be elected the first -- if he'd be elected president, we'd have two choices. He'd be the first Jewish president or the first North Korean president. And we've opted for the first North Korean president. We don't know because Kate Michelman says he's got -- the Breck Girl has an affinity for women and understands their issues. And I don't know whether Richardson has that affinity for Jews and Jewish issues, such as Israel and that sort of thing. But we do know he's been in North Korea a lot, and he's got affinity for Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung, the little pot-bellied dictator. So if Richardson happens to be elected president, we'll call him the first North Korean president, ladies and gentlemen.
Also, we've decided any further John Edwards news, we will use this tune as official update theme for the Breck Girl:
HELEN REDDY [audio clip of her song "I Am Woman"]: I am woman, hear me roar in numbers too big to ignore, and I know too much to go back and pretend. Because I've heard it all before, and I've been down there on the floor. No one's ever gonna keep me down again --
LIMBAUGH: Are you listening, Ann Coulter?
REDDY: -- whoa, yes, I am wise, but it's wisdom born of pain. Yes, I paid the price, but look how much I've gained. If I have to, I can do anything --
LIMBAUGH: All right, c'mon. To the chorus so I can get out of this!
REDDY: -- I am strong. I am invincible. I am woman.
LIMBAUGH: All right, we're thinking of adding another tune here to the John Edwards update rotation. As you know, Kate Michelman, if you've been listening to the program since the beginning today -- the former abortion babe, Kate Michelman, she's still pro-abortion, she's just not a member of NARAL anymore. She's out there saying that Edwards is the best guy qualified on the Democrat side for women. He could be the first female president. Ann Coulter, you're getting this? Kate Michelman essentially saying that John Edwards, the Breck girl, could be the first female president.
So we've got -- we've got [conservative parodist Paul] Shanklin working on now "I Am Woman," sung by John Edwards, the Breck Girl. And we're going to throw this one into the mix. The is the Eurhythmics joined by Aretha Franklin, and it's called "Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves." Thought about trying to sound like Barack saying that.
AUDIO ["Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves"]: Now there was a time when they used to say that behind every great man, there had to be a great woman. But in these times of change you know that it's no longer true. So we're comin' out of the kitchen 'cause there's somethin' we forgot to say to you. Sisters are doin' it for themselves, standin' on their own two feet, and ringin' on their own bells --
LIMBAUGH: It's a John Edwards update theme.
AUDIO: -- sisters are doin' it for themselves.
LIMBAUGH: All right, so that's the Eurhythmics with Aretha, and we'll throw that into the rotation as well. [laughing] I mean, it's funny. Bill Clinton was the first black president. If he's elected, the Breck girl is going to be the first female president. Democrats talking. And so we've decided if Bill Richardson gets elected, he'll be the first North Korean president, because whatever you are, you cannot be the first real thing. Hillary will not be the first female president. She'll be something else. Yeah, you can say Hillary might be the first male president the Democrats have had in a while. Testicle lockbox been accumulating them.
LIMBAUGH: ["Fire" by the] Crazy World of Arthur Brown, and the Wicked Witch from wherever. And one of three tunes in our global warming update theme. By the way, before we get to the global warming stack, a quick question. As you know, we opened the program an hour ago with news Kate Michelman, big time pro-abortion babe, formerly of NARAL Pro-Choice America, has been out there saying, you know, of all the candidates, the guy best oriented for women's issues is John Edwards, which prompted a headline today in The New York Sun: will John Edwards be the first female president? Which is typical with Democrats. Bill Clinton's broken down the barrier being the first black president. Bill Richardson, if he were to be elected president, we've decided he'd be the first North Korean president since whatever you are is not what you will be when you're elected president.
But -- so Edwards would be the first female president. First woman president in the country. Mrs. Bill Clinton would not be. Inquiring minds have asked -- we're asking ourselves this -- who would design and make Edwards' inaugural gown? And some say you couldn't have Vera Wang do it. Edwards may not qualify for a Vera -- ahem -- Wang --ahem -- model. You're listening to this, Ann Coulter. But there are plenty of other designers out there that the Breck Girl could use to design his inaugural gown.