Both the MSM and Democratic Senators are trying to co-opt the Rush Limbaugh letter story for Democratic ends. It’s worthwhile taking a step back, to the beginning of the entire affair, to understand just how egregiously they are undermining truth to create a new, Progressive reality for the American people. (I guess this is another example of what’s meant by the “reality based community.”)
It all began on the Rush Limbaugh show, on September 26. In the first call of the morning, Rush engaged with a caller who identified himself as a Republican, but insisted that the Democrats had the right idea with their demand that the US immediately withdraw from Iraq. The very next caller, a self-identified US serviceman, agreed with Rush that an untimely retreat from Iraq would be disastrous. It was in the context of this pro-military phone call that the “phony soldier” reference came up:
CALLER: Hi, Rush. Thanks for taking my call.
RUSH: You bet.
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.
RUSH: They joined to be in Iraq.
CALLER: A lot of people.
RUSH: You know where you’re going these days, the last four years, if you sign up. The odds are you’re going there or Afghanistan, or somewhere.
The topic didn’t end there, though. After a very short interplay regarding WMDs, Rush then returned to his “phony soldier” comment by explicitly defining what he meant by the term:
Here is a Morning Update that we did recently, talking about fake soldiers. This is a story of who the left props up as heroes. They have their celebrities and one of them was Army Ranger Jesse Macbeth. Now, he was a “corporal.” I say in quotes. Twenty-three years old. What made Jesse Macbeth a hero to the anti-war crowd wasn’t his Purple Heart; it wasn’t his being affiliated with post-traumatic stress disorder from tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. No. What made Jesse Macbeth, Army Ranger, a hero to the left was his courage, in their view, off the battlefield, without regard to consequences. He told the world the abuses he had witnessed in Iraq, American soldiers killing unarmed civilians, hundreds of men, women, even children. In one gruesome account, translated into Arabic and spread widely across the Internet, Army Ranger Jesse Macbeth describes the horrors this way: “We would burn their bodies. We would hang their bodies from the rafters in the mosque.”
Now, recently, Jesse Macbeth, poster boy for the anti-war left, had his day in court. And you know what? He was sentenced to five months in jail and three years probation for falsifying a Department of Veterans Affairs claim and his Army discharge record. He was in the Army. Jesse Macbeth was in the Army, folks, briefly. Forty-four days before he washed out of boot camp. Jesse Macbeth isn’t an Army Ranger, never was. He isn’t a corporal, never was. He never won the Purple Heart, and he was never in combat to witness the horrors he claimed to have seen. You probably haven’t even heard about this. And, if you have, you haven’t heard much about it. This doesn’t fit the narrative and the template in the Drive-By Media and the Democrat Party as to who is a genuine war hero. Don’t look for any retractions, by the way. Not from the anti-war left, the anti-military Drive-By Media, or the Arabic websites that spread Jesse Macbeth’s lies about our troops, because the truth for the left is fiction that serves their purpose. They have to lie about such atrocities because they can’t find any that fit the template of the way they see the US military. In other words, for the American anti-war left, the greatest inconvenience they face is the truth.
In other words, both at the time he used the phrase “phony soldiers” and within seconds of having used that phrase, Rush made it patently clear that he was talking about people who are genuine phonies: either they were never in the military at all, or they’ve lied about their service, either for pecuniary or political gain. (There’s also a class of soldier that seems to have enlisted, not to serve, but to achieve a secondary goal, such as jump-starting a fiction writing career or positioning himself to more strongly make a political protest.)
As to those people, he was saying that many of them push themselves forward, or are propped up by anti-War activists, as examples of soldiers who are opposed to the War. To the extent that they either are not soldiers at all, or they have lied about their records, or they have lied about what’s going on in Iraq, they are phonies and, in Rush’s view (as in mine), their “absolute moral authority” (just to quote M. Dowd) should be discounted.
To put it another way, Rush both said and implied that, when it comes to anti-War talk, the speaker’s identity and honesty have to be taken into account to determine the validity of his opinion. He did not say the opposite, which would be that the nature of the opinion should be used to disparage or invalidate the speaker.
Rush’s comment about the skepticism that should be accorded statements by phony soldiers — fakers who were never soldiers at all or who lie about their careers — would have vanished into the ether had it not been for the fact that the Democrats and Progressives, both in Congress and on the street, were smarting from the fallout created by MoveOn.org’s crass “General Betray-us” ad. If you’re an ordinary person, if you or someone associated with you, makes a gross error such as that ad, you apologize. However, if you’re a political narcissist, in which case an apology is not part of your mental landscape, you go on the attack. And that’s precisely what the Progressive crowd did.
The vehicle used for the attack was the Soros-connected, Hillary-founded Media Matters. As an interesting aside, Media Matters denies Hillary’s involvement in its founding. It’s unclear whether Hillary or Media Matters is lying. I’m not sure divining the truth actually matters, though. The nature of their statements — hers, trying to curry an association with Media Matters, and Media Matter’s, trying to keep some distance to avoid charges of partisanship — gives you as much information as the truth itself would.
By taking Rush’s comments out of context, Media Matters put Rush on the front page of all sorts of MSM vehicles (TV and print), with the claim that Rush was calling all American troops phonies. You’ve read the transcript, above, and you know about the genuinely phony soldiers who have shown up in this war (as they have in every war, although they haven’t normally been embraced by one of the major political parties). Keeping that in mind, read now what Media Matters wrote:
During the September 26 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh called service members who advocate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq “phony soldiers.”
As I noted above in the bold-print text, Media Matters is completely inverting what Rush said. He never said that soldiers who advocate withdrawal from Iraq are phonies. He said that the anti-War crowd is relying on a lot of real phonies to front for them as they call for unilateral withdrawal. Again: Rush both said and implied that, when it comes to anti-War talk, the speaker’s identity and honesty have to be taken into account to determine the validity of his opinion. He did not say the opposite, which would be that the nature of the opinion should be used to disparage or invalidate the speaker.
In the same post, Media Matters included much of the transcript from Rush’s show, but conveniently left out the bit in which he went on to explain precisely what he meant by phony soldiers. Media Matters created the political equivalent of a bad movie review. You know, those reviews that have much redacted quotations, such as “It blew my mind….” with the deleted material, in fact, stating that “It blew my mind what a rotten movie this was.” That kind of thing.
Democrats in Congress got very excited, something that has bewildered me. Their subsequent conduct indicated that they were oblivious to the fact that everyone knows Rush is a staunch support of American troops — anti-War, pro-War, service person, you name it, they all know that Rush supports the troops and the war effort. (Distinguishing himself, in this regard, from Democrats who have routinely denigrated both the troops and the war effort. Some good quotations are here, although that post leaves out some of the juiciest bits from such lovelies as Jack Murtha.)
Convinced that they had a “gotcha” moment, in which Rush had exposed his true colors as a rabid anti-military fanatic, 41 Democratic Senators, including Democratic Presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, tried to get him fired from his job. Under Harry Reid’s leadership, they signed off on a letter to Clear Channel Communications, Inc., in which they stated in relevant part as follows:
‘Although Americans of goodwill debate the merits of this war, we can all agree that those who serve with such great courage deserve our deepest respect and gratitude. That is why Rush Limbaugh’s recent characterization of troops who oppose the war as “phony soldiers” is such an outrage.
‘Our troops are fighting and dying to bring to others the freedoms that many take for granted. It is unconscionable that Mr. Limbaugh would criticize them for exercising the fundamentally American right to free speech. Mr. Limbaugh has made outrageous remarks before, but this affront to our soldiers is beyond the pale.
We call on you to publicly repudiate these comments that call into question their service and sacrifice and to ask Mr. Limbaugh to apologize for his comments.’
Some might wish to characterize this as simply a group of 41 people exercising their right to free speech, something that should not be curtailed just because they’re Senators. However, the letter represents something much more significant than that. Keep in mind that Clear Channel Communications takes to the airwaves courtesy of a license issued by the FCC. The FCC is an agency that Congress created and that is “directly responsible to Congress.” In other words, the same people that currently control the agency that grants to Clear Channel the license to broadcast wrote a letter to Clear Channel with an implicit threat that it must act against its wayward
employee business partner or else. It’s not direct government censorship, but it has the ugly smell of indirect government censorship.
To its great credit, Clear Channel politely gave these 41 United States Senators the finger. Rush, brilliantly, went one step further. He put the letter up for auction, with a promise that 100% of the proceeds would go to the Marine Corp – Law Enforcement Foundation. The auction web page describes the foundation as follows: “Scholarship assistance to children of Marines and Federal law enforcement personnel whose parent dies on duty.” (There’s also a link that takes you to a page where you can find an address for the MC-LEF’s own web page. ) In addition to promising to turn all auction proceeds over to the MC-LEF, Rush made one other promise: he’d match the winning bid with his own donation to the MC-LEF. He then challenged the 41 signing Senators, many of whom (including Hillary and Reid) are millionaires, to do the same.
The MSM and the Democrats assiduously ignored the story until something happened: the letter sold to philanthropist (and Rush fan) Betty Brown Casey for $2,100,100.00. And that’s where things got interesting. The first sign that history was being rewritten in light of Rush’s fantastic publicity triumph (and nose-thumbing) was when Harry Reid issued a statement implying that it was thanks to him and his cronies that large sums of money were going to charity:
This week, Rush Limbaugh put the original copy of that letter up for auction on e-bay. Mr. President, we didn’t have time, or we could have gotten every senator to sign that letter. But he put the letter up for auction on e-bay and I think very, very constructively, left the proceeds of that it go to the Marine Corps law enforcements foundation. That provides scholarship assistance to marines and federal law enforcement personnel whose parents fall in the line of duty. What could be a more worthwhile cause? I think it’s really good that this money on e-bay is going to be raised for this purpose. …
Never did we think that this letter would bring money of this nature.
In other words, as history is being rewritten, Harry and his cronies wrote a threatening letter to a licensed communications company, not for purposes of censorship and political gain, but as a publicity stunt. (Significantly, neither Harry nor his compatriots are so enamored of the good that they did that they, personally, are donating any money, of course.)
A reader at Captain’s Quarters put his finger on the fact that the auction and Reid’s response put in a nutshell the whole difference between Progressives and Conservatives:
The conservative thinks of a free-market way of raising private funds to aid a worthwhile causes and backs his commitment with his own money.
The liberal asks other people to donate funds, doesn’t donate any of his own money, and tries to take credit for the generosity of others.
I wish I’d been smart enough to say that.
Aside from serving as a paradigm about Progressives and Republicans, this whole thing revealed, once again, the MSM’s difficulty in confronting perfidious behavior on the Democratic/Progressive side, or applauding laudable behavior on the Republican/Conservative side. Immediately after the MSM finally picked up the story, the Confederate Yankee noticed something interesting about the coverage: as did Reid, it spins it as a Democratic-inspired charitable donation. The paper of record (that would be the New York Times, which is clearly intent upon creating a version of the record) went even further, getting everything wrong in the very first sentence:
As you know, because I demonstrated above using original sources, Rush did not refer to those Iraq veterans who are critical of the war as “phony soldiers.” Instead, he referred to phony soldiers as phony soldiers, with the warning that their criticisms of the war should be viewed in light of their base phoniness. As you also know, Rush did not receive a letter of complaint from 41 Democratic Senators. His
boss partner, a company that holds a federal broadcasting licensing issued by an agency answerable to those 41 Senators received a letter demanding that it chastise him (a letter that implicitly hinted “or you’ll lose your license”).
So, to recap. Rush issued a warning against taking too seriously the anti-War comments emanating from honest to God phony soldiers (if you’ll pardon the oxymoron). A Soros-affiliated, Hillary-founded, anti-Conservative group twisted that language to accuse Rush of saying that all soldiers who oppose the war are phonies. Democratic Senators smarting from the backlash of people offended by a repugnant political ad wrote a manifestly threatening letter to Rush’s
employer business partner. Rush put the letter up for auction, with the proceeds to go to charity, and with a promise to make a matching donation to that charity. He also invited the millionaires club in the Senate to join in. The letter sold for over $2 million, at which point the Senators did not join in, but they did try to take credit for the donation, a position the MSM echoed. The MSM also resolutely tried to perpetuate the original canard against Rush.
In other words, it’s business as usual in the Progressive fantasy land where Democratic politics and liberal media meet. It would be an amusing fairy tale were it not for the fact that myriad Americans who are not tuned-in know about the fable only through the liberal gate keeping media and naively believe that this fantasy is, in fact, political reality. So this isn’t a fairy-tale at all, it’s something of a horror story.
UPDATE: For more New York Times mendacity, check out this post at Sweetness & Light, demonstrating how the New York Times messed with history to clean up Hillary’s Chinatown problem. (H/t American Thinker.)
UPDATE II: Just today, yet another truly phony soldier, this time a story about a rather loony guy intent on self-aggrandizement. I wouldn’t buy a used car from the man, nor would I believe him to have moral authority when it came to opining about the War.
UPDATE III: Two comments came in that correct my misunderstanding about Rush’s relationship to Clear Channel. They’re important comments (and amusing), so they deserve to be up here, in the post. First, from mamapajamas:
And one thing that really made me laugh about this was that Rush is NOT an “employee” of Clear Channel, and CC could not have “punished” him in any way even if they’d wanted to. They’d have had endless lawsuits.
Rush outright OWNS the EIB Network. I can recall during the stem cell research thing with the Michael J Fox ad Rush responding to demands that he be fired with the comment that he was considering firing himself and rehiring himself at a higher salary. He is responsible to no one but himself.
The relationship between EIB and Clear Channel is more like computer hardware (the Clear Channel radio stations) and software (the EIB Network). They are equal PARTNERS. The computer doesn’t work without the software, the software doesn’t work without a computer. They’re two different components with equal power bound together by contracts.
And Clear Channel is making tons of money from the Rush show. They weren’t about to kill the goose that laid the golden egg! LOL!
And then, in response, from JJ:
Yes, Mama makes a good point that I was going to make: Clear Channel is in fact not Rush’s “boss” in any sense of the word. They are partners, and they are in fact somewhat unequal partners: Rush owns 100% of his product., and essentially self-syndicates.
All this proves is that Harry Reid is genuinely as stupid as he looks, and most of the democrats in the senate seem to have self-selected as being not much better.
I have no idea who votes for these people…