Thursday, September 27, 2007

Rush to Judgment

[posted by Callimachus]

I have no idea what Rush Limbaugh says or thinks, because I don't listen to him and don't intend to start. But the transcript from his show as presented on the alarm-ringer post that sent the left-side bloggers scurrying to their keyboards seems to me to leave his latest notorious remark open to variant readings:

CALLER 2: No, it's not, and what's really funny is, they never talk to real soldiers. They like to pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and talk to the media.

LIMBAUGH: The phony soldiers.

CALLER 2: The phony soldiers. If you talk to a real soldier, they are proud to serve. They want to be over in Iraq. They understand their sacrifice, and they're willing to sacrifice for their country.

From there, the next dot connected was active-duty soldiers who have written and spoken eloquently in their criticism or condemnation of the reasons and tactics of the U.S. effort in Iraq.

But it is not at all clear to me from that jumbled conversation that Limbaugh didn't mean proven "phony soldiers" who have been embraced and touted by the anti-war movement, like Jesse Macbeth. Whatever he meant (we'll never know) in that moment, Limbaugh at least has that cover to shelter behind.

Still, it's a warning shot to those who thoughtlessly backed the MoveOn scolding resolution. That dog bites both ways. This post overreaches its case based on the vagueness and off-the-cuffness of the Limbaugh quip.

The amendment, offered by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), expressly stated that the Senate would condemn “any effort to attack the honor and integrity” of “all members of the United States Armed Forces“:


On his radio show yesterday, right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh attacked the “honor and integrity” of some members of the Armed Forces. Limbaugh attacked troops who hold a different viewpoint than his own as “phony soldiers.” Iraq war vet Jon Soltz writes that Limbaugh’s comments are directed at “the majority of troops on the ground in Iraq” because they “do not back the President’s failed policy.”

For all the Senators who rushed to make political hay over an empty resolution, the spotlight is on them. Will they now enforce their “sense of the Senate” and condemn Rush Limbaugh?

But if you don't believe an authentic match to the MoveOn stupidity is lurking out there somewhere, waiting to trip off the tongue of some right-side commentator, you're in for a rude surprise. And what will you do then?

UPDATE: 9/29/07, 2:46 p.m. (timestamped to give the comments a correct context) If this transcript is accurate, Rush L. did introduce Jesse MacBeth as the sort of "phony soldier" he had in mind in the same conversation in which he used that phrase. In which case the objection to his words is completely off-base and counts as a smear. Hat tip BCB.

(As was, I might add, the allegation in the Congressional resolution that the MoveOn ad impinged the honor of all the troops in service in Iraq. It still bothers me more when the elected U.S. Congress does that than when a lot of damned fool private citizens on the left do it.)