Are you a slut? It's a question that, to be perfectly honest, we would have felt more than a little uncomfortable asking as recently as a few weeks ago. For one, there's the word itself—as misogynistic an insult as you could conjure. And there wasn't much of a peg, what with the rest of the world focused on more pressing issues, like Israel's threats of conflict with Iran, and jokes about Mitt Romney's dog (this is a particularly good one).
But then conservative icon Rush Limbaugh—who was once caught trying to bring 29 100 mg Viagra pills with him to the Dominican Republic—spent three days ripping into Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke (rhymes with "look"), calling her a "slut" and a "prostitute" for testifying before Congress about birth control, and suggesting that he'd like her to send him a sex tape. The #iamnotaslut Twitter campaign went viral; Limbaugh began losing sponsors (20, at last count). And now we can't seem to talk about anything else but "sluts." Seriously, just take a look at this chart from BuzzFeed.
The national conversation about sluts of 2012 hasn't really given us much clarity—but it has given a variety of commentators a platform from which to disseminate their definition of "slut." Which, it turns out, is really, really broad. Fluke—who noted in her testimony about contraception access that she has a friend who uses the pill out of medical necessity—has been maligned for oversharing about her sex life, which she didn't even discuss on the Hill. One Georgetown law school classmate of Fluke's quoted in the National Review put it worst: "When did Georgetown Law start admitting Kardashians?"
So back to that question: Are you a slut? It's a head-scratcher, so we've put together this handy flowchart to help you out:
Here it is in chart form, for the clicking-impaired:
EXCLUSIVE: The GOP candidate claimed in 1994 that single mothers were destroying the "fabric of the country." His solution? "Kicking them in the butt."
Tim Murphy and Andy KrollMar. 6, 2012 7:00 AM
During his first US Senate campaign, Rick Santorum warned voters of a growing menace that was "breeding more criminals" and threatened to destroy America from within: single mothers.
"Most people agree a continuation of the current [welfare] system will be the ruination of this country," Santorum told a town meeting in Clairton, Pa., in February 1994, according to transcripts of the appearance obtained by Mother Jones. "We are seeing it. We are seeing the fabric of this country fall apart, and it's falling apart because of single moms."
Santorum, who often trumpets his role in pushing through landmark welfare reform during stump speeches and debates, made the federal program a centerpiece of his 1994 race against incumbent Sen. Harris Wofford (D-Penn.). At his Clairton town hall, Santorum came prepared with a prop—a poster-size chart tracking the increase in the welfare rolls since 1965, alongside the increase in children who were born out of wedlock.
"Open up the current periodicals—study after study, article after article, children having children is destroying the fabric of our country," Santorum said. "If you want to close your eyes to it, if you don't care about it, if you don't want to solve it, if you want to continue the system, to let people stay and spiral—go ahead. Not with me." Single mothers, Santorum argued, needed politicians who weren't afraid of "kicking them in the butt."
EXCLUSIVE: The 2012 candidate once argued it was wrong for the federal government not to be "proactive" in shaping the health care market and boasted his voting record was "in the middle."
Andy Kroll and Tim MurphyMar. 5, 2012 4:01 AM
2012 Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum.
Rick Santorum's pitch to Republican voters is simple: He is the "true" and "consistent" conservative in the GOP's presidential nomination fight. He describes himself as "a candidate who, throughout [his] career, has not only checked the box on conservative issues but has fought for conservative issues." And he slams front-runner Mitt Romney for flip-flopping on abortion and the Wall Street bailouts and, most of all, for passing government-mandated health care reform in Massachusetts. If elected president, Santorum vows, he will end the "tyranny" of President Obama's Affordable Care Act.
Yet as an up-and-coming congressman in the early 1990s, Santorum took a much different line. Then—like now—health care was one of the nation's most divisive issues. In 1993, Republicans were up in arms about a health care reform bill spearheaded by Hillary Clinton and pushed by President Bill Clinton. Republicans decried the measure as excessive government intervention in the marketplace, and Santorum opposed the legislation. But his position was not so clear-cut.
During that fiery debate, Santorum said it would be a mistake to allow the delivery of health care services to be determined only by the market. He asserted that Republicans were "wrong" to let the marketplace decide how health care works. He instead argued that government should play a "proactive" role in shaping the health care marketplace "to make it work better." (Santorum spokesman Hogan Gidley did not respond to requests for comment.)
Are callous disregard for human life and general ineptitude fireable offenses?
As a service to our readers, every day we are delivering a classic moment from the political life of Newt Gingrich—until he either clinches the nomination or bows out.
Newt Gingrich was speaking to supporters in Georgia on Tuesday when he decided to relay to the audience an exchange he'd had just a few hours earlier: "I was describing the other week some ideas and Romney said, you know, boy if someone came in to see him with ideas like that, he'd have fired him!" he said. "And somebody in Chattanooga said to me this morning, they said, you know, 'Romney was the kind of guy who would have fired Christopher Columbus.'"
It's a provocative charge. But is it true?
The Facts: In his remarks in Georgia, Gingrich explained that Columbus' value rested in the power of his ideas. As he put it: "Lincoln had a vision of a transcontinental railroad. The Wright Brothers had a vision that they could fly. Edison had a vision that we could have electric lights…Henry Ford had this idea you could build a low-cost car with mass production."
Christopher Columbus had a vision that if he sailed southwest from Spain for 3,000 nautical miles, he would reach Asia. Instead, he got lost, landed on a small island approximately one-sixth of the way to Asia, enslaved all of the inhabitants, set about searching for gold, did not find gold, falsely informed his supervisors—then in the act of purging their kingdom of Jews and Muslims—that he had reached Asia, and promptly ruled over his newfound land so poorly he was sent back to Spain in chains.
As a candidate, Romney has expressed zero tolerance for insubordination, firing debate coach Brett O'Donnell after arguably his best debate because Romney felt O'Donnell had taken too much credit. At Bain Capital, Romney likewise demonstrated a knack for stripping new companies of their nonessential parts—a euphemism, really, for firing people.
Our Ruling: Romney's actions at Bain Capital have drawn from immense scrutiny from the press and his fellow candidates. But there's no hard evidence that he's ever illegally seized someone else's company and enslaved its employees. Given Romney's quick hook, it's hard to think he would have tolerated such behavior for very long.
Louisiana businessman William Doré gave $1 million to Rick Santorum’s super-PAC. Just don’t ask him why.
Tim MurphyFeb. 28, 2012 7:00 AM
Louisiana businessman William J. Doré Sr.
The biggest donor to the pro-Rick Santorum super-PAC in January was a man you've almost certainly never heard of: William J. Doré Sr., a megarich energy executive from Lake Charles, Louisiana, with a short but complicated history of political giving. His $1 million donation to the Red, White, and Blue Fund was one of the largest gifts of the cycle, and almost certainly the most mysterious.
Despite post-Citizens United fears of profligate dark money spending, for the most part, super-PAC donors have been loud and proud about their political aims. Sheldon Adelson, primary benefactor of the Newt Gingrich-supporting Winning our Future PAC, recently boasted to Forbes that he could spend $100 million on the race if he wanted to; on Thursday, comedian Bill Maher justified his $1 million gift to the Obama-supporting super-PAC Priorities USA by earmarking his check for "kicking ass!" Doré, however, has kept the motivations behind his sudden call to arms to himself.
"Mr. Doré is unavailable for comment," is all Doré's spokeswoman would say when reached by phone on Friday.
Doré's beneficiaries at the Red, White, and Blue Fund were only slightly more forthcoming. "I'll just go ahead and tell you that we don't expand on our fundraising beyond our FEC reports," said Stuart Roy, the group's spokesman. Asked if the PAC had ever reached out to Doré, Roy demurred. "We file with the FEC and leave it at that."