Still the King

STILL THE KING…. Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on head injuries suffered by professional football players. It’s a subject of increasing interest in light of reports pointing to the frequency with which former players are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or similar memory-related diseases — 19 times the normal rate for men ages 30 through 49.

And while this may seem unrelated to congressional responsibilities, Congress does extend antitrust protections given to the NFL, and has a role in addressing public health issues. The formal name for the hearing was “Legal Issues Related to Football Head Injuries.”

As is always the case, every member of the committee was given time to question the panel of witnesses. Rep. Steve King (R) of Iowa decided to press Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the National Football League, aggressively — about Rush Limbaugh.

Apparently, the right-wing congressman is angry because his favorite talk-show host was dropped by a team of investors interested in buying the St. Louis Rams. So, during a hearing about health issues, King badgered the league commissioner for having previously said that “divisive comments are not what the NFL are all about,” and that he “would not want to see those comments coming from people who are in a responsible position in the NFL.”

The Iowa Republican insisted to Goodell, “I don’t think anything Rush Limbaugh said was offensive.” Given King’s record of truly insane rhetoric, that’s not exactly surprising, but the far-right radio host’s record speaks for itself.

King added that “Fergie and J-Lo” own a share of the Miami Dolphins, and they have “performed lyrics in songs that are far more offensive” than anything Limbaugh has said.

In the bigger picture, of course, this is all terribly foolish. Goodell didn’t stop Limbaugh from buying a team; Limbaugh’s fellow investors decided they didn’t want to be associated with him anymore. But more importantly, why is a member of Congress wasting time berating the NFL commissioner for having a negative impression of a notorious radio shock-jock?

For a few too many members of Congress, Limbaugh rules their world.