Democrats have descended on Rush Limbaugh’s comments about Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown law student who testified to the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee on the Administration’s birth control access rules for religiously affiliated institutions. Limbaugh has spent the past two days alleging that Fluke must be a prostitute if she advocates birth control, mocking her testimony and upping the rhetoric with each passing day.

Democratic groups have countered. The DNC and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have demanded a denunciation of Rush for his comments. Other groups are trying to get advertisers to boycott the program. And upping the ante significantly, the President called Sandra Fluke to express his disappointment in the personal attacks:

Fluke was set to go on MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports when the president rang her on her phone. She took the call while waiting in the green room.

“He encouraged me and supported me and thanked me for speaking out about the concerns of American women,” she told Mitchell, who received permission from the White House to discuss the exchange between Fluke and Obama. “What was really personal for me was that he said to tell my parents that they should be proud. And that meant a lot because Rush Limbaugh questioned whether or not my family would be proud of me. So I just appreciated that very much.” [...]

At the White House press briefing shortly after the news broke, Press Secretary Jay Carney outlined the reasoning behind the president’s decision to call Fluke.

Obama, said Carney, felt that, “the kinds of personal attacks that have been directed her way have been inappropriate.”

This is starting to have at least a small impact with Republicans. The usual suspects in the media have condemned Rush, people like Kathleen Parker. John Boehner’s spokesman had to make a statement that Rush’s comments were “inappropriate,” though he added for false equivalence the idea that “raising money off the situation” is also inappropriate. And other political figures are pouncing.

Prediction: this will have absolutely no effect on Rush’s media empire. In 2006, he mocked Michael J. Fox for having Parkinson’s disease. The criticism did not come close to forcing him off the air, though it did probably help Claire McCaskill win a Senate seat in Missouri. Any Republican who criticizes him now will be on the phone to him apologizing for the criticism and backpedaling within a week. Rush is a more important force in the Republican Party than almost anyone.

But Democrats think they have a wedge issue here to work with. The comments alienate a majority of the electorate. The gender gap on this issue is widening, and conservatives are exposed as wanting to control women’s lives. I would add that Obama was probably at his highest point in public opinion when his main competition was seen as Rush Limbaugh. So this works for everyone.

…Limbaugh is loving this. That doesn’t mean it’s bad politics to call him out, however.

…The President of Georgetown University has now backed Fluke over Limbaugh.