First of all, I would say to my lefty friends that anyone who tries to draw some kind of equivalence with Rush Limbaugh referring to anti-war military people as “phony soldiers” and Moveon’s “Betray-us” ad is an idiot.
There is no comparison between the two. None. To make a comparison, is to stretch the point to breaking – a sure sign that any equivalence is manufactured out of whole cloth.
Having said that, Limbaugh is a goose for saying it. And he owes an apology not just to anti-war military people (and ex-military) but to the entirety of the United States Armed Forces.
Here is the context in which Limbaugh made his scurrilous remark:
CALLER: I have a retort to Mike in Chicago, because I am serving in the American military, in the Army. I’ve been serving for 14 years, very proudly.
RUSH: Thank you, sir.
CALLER: I’m one of the few that joined the Army to serve my country, I’m proud to say, not for the money or anything like that. What I would like to retort to is that, what these people don’t understand, is if we pull out of Iraq right now, which is not possible because of all the stuff that’s over there, it would take us at least a year to pull everything back out of Iraq, then Iraq itself would collapse and we’d have to go right back over there within a year or so.
RUSH: There’s a lot more than that that they don’t understand. The next guy that calls here I’m going to ask them, “What is the imperative of pulling out? What’s in it for the United States to pull out?” I don’t think they have an answer for that other than, “When’s he going to bring the troops home? Keep the troops safe,” whatever.
RUSH: It’s not possible intellectually to follow these people.
CALLER: No, it’s not. And what’s really funny is they never talk to real soldiers. They pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and spout to the media.
RUSH: The phony soldiers.
CALLER: Phony soldiers. If you talk to any real soldier and they’re proud to serve, they want to be over in Iraq, they understand their sacrifice and they’re willing to sacrifice for the country.
This is why I don’t buy Brian Faughnan’s “explanation” in The Weekly Standard blog:
Limbaugh’s offhand comment was poorly chosen. It’s clear that there are ‘real soldiers’—real by anyone’s criteria—who oppose the war in Iraq and they’re entitled to their views. But much like the recently manufactured controversies over Bill O’Reilly’s comments, and President Bush’s comment about Saddam having killed “all the Mandelas,” the left is trying to pull a fast-one by taking Rush’s statement out of context.
It’s also clear and undeniable that the political left has eagerly stood behind fakers who spout tales about Iraq that are at times false, or ridiculous, or both. From Jesse MacBeth to Scott Thomas Beauchamp, liberals and anti-war moonbats have suspended logic and reason to embrace people because they liked what they had to say, regardless of whether the tales made sense, or their credentials were as they claimed.
This is, quite simply, changing the subject in order to place the onus of the comment on the other side – an intellectually dishonest tactic. Of course the left has manufactured controversies recently. The Bush-Mandela incident was a jaw dropping example of pure idiocy – a two year old knew what Bush was saying in that context.
But Limbaugh’s utterance was truly despicable. And no amount of spinning can shake the fact that on its own merits, without reference to anything Moveon or any other lefty group has done to slime the troops (Code Pink razzing wounded soldiers out in front of Walter Reed, anyone?), the slur should make not just anti-war soldiers angry but all of our military upset. Limbaugh, quite simply, has intruded. And he should butt out. If one soldier wants to call out another for being “phony,” that’s one thing. But Limbaugh is an outsider and has no business sliming people for beliefs that are just as heartfelt as those who believe in the mission.
Now, no one who is serious and sane believes that Rush Limbaugh hates the troops. And because he does so obviously care about them, he must publicly apologize on the air for his remark. And, as I mentioned, he should apologize to the entire US Military. These last four years have been tough on these guys – tougher than on any other group of American soldiers since World War II. And despite claims to the contrary on the left, the military doesn’t train automatons. The secret to American success on the battlefield has always been the ability of our people to think independently, to act decisively, to take advantage of opportunities that present themselves. Non thinking robots cannot function in our military.
And because of that, you are going to have your fair share of people who disagree with public policy or see things differently than the majority. These men and women serve just as honorably. They perform just as courageously. And they are just as patriotic as any other soldier who serves. To denigrate their service cheapens their right as Americans to disagree.
So Rush, we’re waiting for that apology. And I hope I’m joined by many on the right in calling for Limbaugh to own up to his mistake and do the right thing by our military.
I’m not really surprised that out of all the center right blogs who have covered this incident, only James Joyner and Michael van der GaliÃ«n come anywhere near my position. Ed Morrissey gives Limbaugh points for his “clarifying remarks” that were made after the segment was long over where he says that he was really talking about the Jesse MacBeths and Scott Beauchamps of the world and not anti-war soldiers in general.
Sorry, but I’m not buying that for the simple reason that Limbaugh was agreeing with a caller who was, in fact, lumping all anti-war soldiers together, in turn agreeing with Limbaugh’s designation of them as “phony soldiers.” If he wanted to clarify his point he could have done so immediately.
I think what happened is that Limbaugh realized the hot water he was in and tried to backtrack later. He wouldn’t be the first radio host who tried the tactic and he won’t be the last.
Of course I agree that Media Matters blew this thing way out proportion and tried to massage the remarks into an example of equivalency with the Petreaus Moveon ad. As I mentioned, there is zero equivalence between the two. None. Zilch. The remark is bad enough standing on its own. We don’t need some kind of childish “gotchya” game that the left never tires of playing in order to see what needs to be done; Limbaugh apologizing.