Sunday, September 30, 2007

Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Distraction

First MoveOn’s “General Betray Us” ad, and now Rush Limbaugh’s “phony soldiers” remark. When I heard Rush Limbaugh had called Iraq veterans who favor a withdrawal from Iraq “phony soldiers,” all I could think was, here we go again, another bait-and-switch by the GOP distraction machine.

Despite their intention to up the ante on meaningful discussion on the Iraq war, MoveOn’s ad in the New York Times, ironically, served to feed the GOP’s bait-and-switch machine. The GOP, having mastered the art of bait-and-switch under Karl Rove’s helm, succeeded in making the discussion all about the ad itself, rather than about of the validity of Petraus’s report, which the ad was attempting to call into question. In doing so, the GOP dodged another bullet in being answerable for the war in Iraq. MoveOn is not to blame, however, for it was up to the Democratic Party whether they would take the bait from the Republicans. The Democrats took the bait–hook, line, and sinker.

A resolution denouncing the MoveOn ad not only made it to the Democratic-controlled Senate floor, it was actually debated for an hour before it passed 72-25. It’s moments like these that make me wonder, who’s controlling whom? Has Democratic control joined the ranks of other political oxymorons, such as campaign finance reform and political accountability?

Even former president Bill Clinton had something to say about the recent bait-and-switch tactics implored by the GOP.

Bill Clinton on CNN: “Bait-and-Switch”

Given the monumental distractions surrounding the Monica Lewinsky scandal and President Clinton’s subsequent impeachment, Clinton should know a thing or two about the GOP’s bait-and-switch powers.

And now, Rush Limbaugh has inadvertently perpetuated the growing distractions by dropping a “phony soldiers” bomb on Iraq veterans during his radio show. Following is the transcript of Limbaugh's comments with a caller on his program on Wednesday:

LIMBAUGH: There's a lot more than that that they don't understand. They can't even--if-- the next guy that calls here, I'm gonna ask him: Why should we pull--what is the imperative for pulling out? What's in it for the United States to pull out? They can't--I don't think they have an answer for that other than, "Well, we just gotta bring the troops home."

CALLER 2: Yeah, and, you know what–

LIMBAUGH: "Save the–keep the troops safe" or whatever. I–it's not possible, intellectually, to follow these people.

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.

Iraq veterans and veterans groups have already taken action condemning Limbaugh’s remarks as they called for congressional Republicans to denounce Rush Limbaugh. In Iowa, the group “Americans Against the Escalation in Iraq” issued a press release calling for Iowa’s Republican congressional members, Sen. Chuck Grassley and Rep. Tom Latham, to publicly denounce Limbaugh’s remark. (Rep. Steve King, the other Republican member of Iowa’s delegation, was not targeted in the campaign.)

"I served my country for five years in the Army Corp. of Engineers. I'm proud to have served and support the brave men and women in Iraq today. I know the tremendous strain the Iraq war is placing on our military, and I believe we need to come to some logical conclusion about responsibly pulling out of Iraq," Jesse Dinsdale, an Iraq War veteran, said in the release. "For Rush Limbaugh–a man that has never put on a uniform, much less gone to war– to call people like myself 'phony soldiers' is absurd... The war in Iraq has gone on for too long, and our troops and their families have sacrificed too much. Rush Limbaugh can talk all he wants about 'supporting the troops,' but this isn't support. It's offensive to all of our nation's soldiers and veterans, and Rush Limbaugh owes them an apology.”

Fat chance. The likelihood of Rush Limbaugh ever apologizing for something emitted from his mouth is about as likely as President Bush publicly apologizing for his Iraq War policy blunders and/or admitting he had made some egregious errors in implementing his war strategy. (For starters, I can’t even begin to imagine Bush pronouncing “egregious.”) This is one of the underlying reasons the GOP bait-and-switch machine has been so effective: discipline.

The GOP Fight Club has four primary rules they follow when engaging in distraction warfare:

First Rule: Never talk about GOP Fight Club.

Second Rule: Stay on the offensive.

Third Rule: When counterattacked, never admit you’re wrong.

Fourth Rule: When presented with overwhelming evidence proving that you’re wrong, review rules two and three.

It’s completely understandable that Iraq veterans would be upset by being called “phony soldiers.” This should be offensive to all veterans and non-veterans as well. Sure, the first instinct is to fight back, as did, the largest political group of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. VoteVets released an internet-only ad targeting Limbaugh for his “phony soldier” comment and exposing his hypocrisy in the process.

"Rush Limbaugh has insulted the majority of US troops and veterans, who believe that we are on the wrong course in Iraq," Jon Soltz, Iraq War Veteran and Chair of said in a press release. "Their sacrifice is very real. The wounds many sustained are very real. The limbs they lost are very real. And their view that George W. Bush has this policy wrong is very real. The only phony here is Rush Limbaugh, who seems to think that he can pass judgment on us, when he's never had the guts to wear the uniform."

True, these Iraq veterans’ honor has been attacked, and they should go after Limbaugh and hold him accountable for his on-the-air blathering. But dragging these political skirmishes on to the Senate floor only serves to distract Congress from what they should be doing–crafting, debating and enacting legislation that supports the troops not only when they are deployed, but also when they return from their deployment battle-scarred, both emotionally and physically. Congress should be fighting to send more MRAP vehicles and other supplies to soldiers in Iraq; passing Sen. Jim Webb’s, D-Va., amendment that provides more downtime between deployments, enacting the Wounded Warriors Act, repealing the military’s discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Policy,” replacing discretionary funding for Veterans affairs with mandated funding…and the to-do list goes on and on.

It is a matter of picking our, yes, our battles. Do we choose to take on Rush Limbaugh and the GOP attack machine, at the risk of losing sight of what’s important?

Or would it be best to consider the source, choose to ignore him, and move on?

Originally posted on "Iowa Independent"


SpunkysMum said...

Well, you

SpunkysMum said...

You might want to try actually learning the truth about what Rush said in order to avoid the supreme embarrassment of appearing to be as utterly ignorant as Harry Reid and Tom Harkin did this week. Helen Keller could have sat in a room with a recording and a transcript of the show and immediately grasped that he was talking about, er, actual phony soldiers.

And, just a thought, maybe you could be grateful to this American hero for being one of the staunchest support of the military and its veterans that there is.

What's disgraceful and grossly ungrateful is to even entertain the thought of participating in the unconscionable slur against this great man.

SpunkysMum said...

I meant smear, not slur. Sorry.