But Rush has crossed a line that few will cross in pursuit of their politics. He has labeled a disabled person a liar, accusing that disabled person of pretending that their condition was worse than it is. It didn't help that that person was Michael J. Fox.
For those that don't know, Fox has Parkinson's disease and it has progressed a long way in the past couple of years. Fox takes medication, as do millions of people who suffer from Parkinson's, to control the more visible symptoms of the disease, including the tremors we all see.
Fox has made some political ads in support of stem cell research (and no, we won't be exploring that topic here). Limbaugh is opposed to this research. In his criticism of Fox's ads, Limbaugh said:
"He is exaggerating the effects of the disease," [...] "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."
Shameless; what an interesting word Limbaugh used. What's the logic here? Parkinson's isn't bad enough on its own that Limbaugh thinks someone with the disease has to exaggerate the symptoms? And the implication that Fox would stop taking medication for a commercial is ludicrous. Medications for diseases such as Parkinson's aren't optional; if you stop taking them, there are real and potentially long-lasting consequences.
Of course, the most damning criticism of Limbaugh comes from a, you know, actual medical professional.
"Anyone who knows the disease well would regard his movement as classic severe Parkinson's disease," said Elaine Richman, a neuroscientist in Baltimore who co-wrote "Parkinson's Disease and the Family." "Any other interpretation is misinformed."
Limbaugh has, of course, retracted his statements and apologized, but the trick worked; hell, I'm writing about it. Still, there's only one person who's shameless in this exchange. Unsurprisingly, it's Rush Limbaugh.