UPDATE FROM MY ORIGINAL POST BELOW
I watched the video and am more convinced than ever that Limbaugh knew he had goofed when he said “phony soldiers” (plural) and in the context of the moment the comment was made, Limbaugh was clearly referencing and agreeing with the caller’s sentiment that all soldiers who come forward and make known their opposition to the war are not “real soldiers” (caller’s words).
We can parse this thing from here to doomsday and not agree because at bottom, we are arguing about Limbaugh’s intent – an admittedly doomed excursion into the realm of mind reading.
Thankfully, Rush rescued me by going even further on his show yesterday. Not only did he include Jesse Macbeth and Scott Beauchamp in his “phony soldier” meme, he also included Jack Murtha in that notorious group for the Congressman’s execrable comments condemning the Haditha Marines before the official report on the incident had even been released.
Why is Murtha’s military career – a career that all can agree was distinguished and honorable – at issue as a result of his statements about Haditha? How can you refer to Murtha as a “phony soldier” when those comments were made long after he left the military?
Call him a “phony politician” if you wish. But Murtha’s service was genuine. Would Limbaugh refer to virulent anti-war Senator Daniel Inouye as a “phony soldier” based on what the Senator has said about our involvement in Iraq? Inouye, a genuine war hero who fought for this country while Japanese Americans were languishing in detention camps, lost an arm in combat and was awarded the Medal of Honor.
Murtha is a pandering, corrupt lout of a Congressman – a man who should be kicked out of Congress for stinking up the institution with sweetheart deals and earmarks targeted to his family and cronies. His taking the lead in trying to outdo his Democratic colleagues in opposition to the war was almost certainly at least partly animated by his desire to attain a leadership position following the 2006 elections. I have nothing but contempt for him today, although in the past I admired his political courage as he went against his party in the 1980’s to support the Reagan defense buildup.
But Limbaugh’s inclusion of Murtha in his little gang of “phony soldiers” is telling. If the talk show host was only talking about “phony soldiers” why include someone whose only sin appears to be opposition to the war in Iraq – an opposition that led the Congressman to jump the gun on the Pentagon and condemn Marines – some of them entirely innocent – for the Haditha incident?
Limbaugh’s explanation just doesn’t hold water. It is entirely plausible that the polarizing Mr. Limbaugh issued a blanket condemnation of military people who are opposed to the war rather than singling out individuals like Jesse Macbeth when he uttered the words “phony soldiers.”
I admit that gleaning intent is tricky. But which is more plausible? Limbaugh lumping people who disagree with him into one, overarching, insulting rubric or Rush carefully delineating between some soldiers who oppose the war and the Jesse Macbeths of the world?
Given Limbaugh’s clear and well documented past, I think it is logical to assume the former.