Sorry, I don’t normally resort to ad hominem attacks but the bullshit that spews out of Rush Limbaugh’s mouth just pushes me beyond the bounds of decency. In his most recent outrage, he referred to American troops—including returning veterans—who oppose or openly criticize the Iraq war as “phony soldiers.” Naturally, the right wing’s most vociferous minions are coalescing in a cacophonous show of support (of Limbaugh) and denunciation (of his detractors). But regardless of what Limbaugh meant by his “phony soldiers” comment, one thing is clear: No statement is too inflammatory, too insensitive, or too hypocritical for this man when it comes to pushing the conservative line.
This isn’t, after all, the first time Rush Limbaugh has gotten in trouble for callously pandering to conservative elements in our society. In fact, extreme insensitivity has been the hallmark of his career. In 2003, as one of the hosts of ESPN’s NFL Sunday Countdown, he was forced to resign after making a racially insensitive remark about Donovan McNabb, star quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles. Limbaugh—who will never be as good at anything in his entire life as McNabb is at quarterbacking—had the nerve to say, on the air, that McNabb had recieved more credit than he deserved for his team’s successes because sympathetic media outlets were “very desirous that a black quarterback do well.” I guess in Rush’s fat eyes, it’s not actually possible for a black quarterback to be good enough to merit McNabb’s accolades.
Racial insensitivity is par for the course for Rush Limbaugh so his remarks on ESPN should have come as no surprise to anyone familiar with his show. But Limbaugh deserves accolades of his own when it comes to brazen hypocrisy. As a longtime advocate of the lock-them-up-and-throw-away-the-key school of anti-drug law enforcement, Limbaugh’s own arrest and conviction on prescription drug abuse charges did come as a shock to many. It also gave yours truly a great deal of schadenfreude. Of course, it would have been too good to be true for the courts to lock him up and throw away the key, but I nonetheless let my imagination wander to a blissful fantasy world in which justice was actually done. In the real world, however, Limbaugh was out in no time and, after a stint in rehab, back on the air.
Not in the least humbled by his arrest—and exposure as a hypocrite of the first order—Limbaugh immediately went back to his trademark brand of inflammatory and biased broadcasting. During the 2004 presidential elections, Limbaugh was in the forefront of the campaign to cast a shadow over John Kerry’s military service, parrotting the exaggerated and outrightly false claims of groups like Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. This episode shows the size of Rush’s cojones (hint: cojones is not Spanish for gut) because he himself had never served in the military. When his nation needed him to put his life on the line, Rush Limbaugh managed to get a deferment because of a pilonidal cyst, a minor condition that can be easily repaired with an out-patient surgical procedure.
The “phony soldiers” remark is rightly generating a strong negative reaction precisely because Limbaugh, himself a draft-dodger (a term he liberally used when lambasting President Bill Clinton), now has the gall to refer to soldiers who oppose the war as “phony.” This man has never answered the call to serve his country and has never worn a military uniform. In fact, the only uniform Limbaugh has ever worn is that of a “a wiener salesman for the KC Royals baseball franchise.” Yet he now has the audacity to disparage these soldiers who have put their lives on the line and now have the courage—after having personally witnessed the fiasco in Iraq—to call for an end to the war. Only in a media climate totally dominated by right-wing pundits can someone like Rush Limbaugh actually believe he can get away with this sort of thing. Hopefully this will be the last time he does.
Because of this man’s track record, I don’t understand why there is so much argument about what he meant? We can pick apart his words and try to psychoanalyze him ’til we’re blue in the face but one thing is clear: He fully intended to disparage those soldiers who are critical of the war. Limbaugh has been a supporter of this war from the start, and has staunchly supported whatever line the Bush Administration has taken. When the Abu Ghraib scandal blew up, Limbaugh defended the soldiers who tortured and humiliated their Iraqi prisoners, saying on his show that they were just “blowing off steam.” After an active-duty soldier questioned then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld about their lack of body armor, Rush Limbaugh called for that soldier to be busted for “borderline insubordination.” From day one, Limbaugh has done whatever he can to support the continuation of this war, and he will continue to do so.
It should therefore come as no surprise that he has now taken to insulting soldiers who have lost faith in this war. The man is a conservative ideologue, pure and simple. I can only hope that something good comes of this scandal. I hope that those Americans who continue to support this war will begin to question the sincerity of conservatives’ support-the-troops rhetoric. Maybe they will finally begin to understand that continuing to send American soldiers to die in Iraq while opposing the speedy return to their homes and families of those troops already there is not a show of support. It’s actually the opposite.
FULL DISCLOSURE: Long, long ago, I used to listen to Rush Limbaugh regularly and I actually thought this fat piece of excrement made some good points. God, how blind I was back then! It must have been the OxyContin.