05 October 2007

Almost unbelievable

Supposedly Rush Limbaugh (during his 26 September broadcast) insulted soldiers who oppose military operations in Iraq by calling them phony soldiers. A week later, a week during which any who wanted could hear or read for themselves what he said, he continues to take flak for it. It’s almost unbelievable. Almost.

Now, you would think that Limbaugh said, “It is my sincere belief that any soldier who opposes the war is a phony soldier.”

Here’s a phony transcript of the offending call (from Media Matters site, not Limbaugh’s):

LIMBAUGH: …Mike…in Olympia, Washington. Welcome to the EIB Network. Hello.

MIKE: Hi Rush, thanks for taking my call.

LIMBAUGH: You bet.

MIKE: I have a retort to [a previous caller], because I am a serving American military, in the Army. I've been serving for 14 years, very proudly.

LIMBAUGH: Thank you, sir.

MIKE: And, you know, 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, if we pull -- what these people don't understand is if we pull out of Iraq right now, which is about impossible because of all the stuff that's over there, it'd 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. And --

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."

MIKE: Yeah, and, you know what --

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

MIKE: 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.

MIKE: The phony soldiers. If you talk to a real soldier, they are proud to serve. They want to be over in Iraq. They understand their sacrifice, and they're willing to sacrifice for their country.

LIMBAUGH: They joined to be in Iraq. They joined --

MIKE: A lot of them -- the new kids, yeah.

LIMBAUGH: Well, you know where you're going these days, the last four years, if you signed up. The odds are you're going there or Afghanistan or somewhere.

MIKE: Exactly, sir.

It seems to me quite clear that Mike believes that soldiers who oppose the war are phony soldiers and that war supporting soldiers are “real.” Rush’s problem is that his interjection (i.e., “The phony soldiers”), in context, does seem to agree with Mike’s assessment. I think it is quite clear that Rush thought the caller’s reference to “these soldiers that come up out of the blue and talk to the media” was to truly phony soldiers – people who claim either to be soldiers and are not, or soldiers who have made claims about their service which are not true. I think it’s very clear that Rush and Mike were not talking about exactly the same thing. As it turns out, Mike – but not Rush – thinks that soldiers who oppose the war in Iraq are not real soldiers. That’s his problem. Frankly, each time I read this transcript I find myself unsure that I know what Mike meant by “real soldiers”. Sometimes I wonder if the non-real soldiers are those who enlisted in order to get college money, or something like that. I don’t know. He doesn’t express himself very well. (Of course, to be fair, Rush did interrupt and distract him from the point of his call.)

Now, I just happen to have been listening to Limbaugh that day so I heard the rest of the call, and also heard Limbaugh immediately give an example of just what he meant by the phrase “phony soldiers”. Media Matters’ excision of this part of the call is why I refer to theirs as a phony transcript. A real transcript ought to have included what follows. It went like this (from his site):

(NOTE: What you are about to read resumes right after Mike says, “Exactly, sir.”)


MIKE: …My other comment, my original comment, was a retort to Jill about the fact we didn't find any weapons of mass destruction. Actually, we have found weapons of mass destruction in chemical agents that terrorists have been using against us for a while now. I've done two tours in Iraq, I just got back in June, and there are many instances of insurgents not knowing what they're using in their IEDs. They're using mustard artillery rounds, VX artillery rounds in their IEDs. Because they didn't know what they were using, they didn't do it right, and so it didn't really hurt anybody. But those munitions are over there. It's a huge desert. If they bury it somewhere, we're never going to find it.

RUSH: Well, that's a moot point for me right now.

MIKE: Right.

RUSH: The weapons of mass destruction. We gotta get beyond that. We're there. We all know they were there, and Mahmoud even admitted it in one of his speeches here talking about Saddam using the poison mustard gas or whatever it is on his own people. But that's moot. What's more important is all this is taking place now in the midst of the surge working, and all of these anti-war Democrats are getting even more hell-bent on pulling out of there, which means that success on the part of you and your colleagues over there is a great threat to them. It's frustrating and maddening, and why they must be kept in the minority. I want to thank you, Mike, for calling. I appreciate it very much.

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 Mcbeth. 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.
The transcript ends there. Limbaugh segued immediately into an explanation of what he meant by “phony” – or “fake” – soldiers. I heard that Morning Update also. Limbaugh wasn’t talking about soldiers – real soldiers – who oppose the war. He was talking about truly fake soldiers. And I find it very telling, though hardly surprising, that Media Matters’ redaction of the transcript ends where it does. The entire transcript shows their phony assertion for what it is.

These are people who want honesty and believe the President lied us into war. These are people who assert that Limbaugh is disingenuous. And yet, to substantiate a charge against him they can only be, shall we say, less than honest in their transcript editing.

For their false witness against Limbaugh I think Media Matters should receive whatever consequences they intended for him. Whatever they may have been. Too bad they don’t have a radio show that Democrats want to pull off the Armed Forces Network.

Of course, following General Wesley Clark’s suggestion, Media Matters, like Limbaugh (and along with CNN, MSNBC, NBC, CBS, ABC, L.A. Times, N.Y. Times The New Republic, and others) need to be rated. (On the grounds that since there are standards in public broadcasting – X-rated, R-rated, etc – there ought to be standards in political discourse. Ratings on political speech. And these people insist it is the Right who are trying to take away freedoms.) After all, many (like Elizabeth Edwards and Brian Gough, of VoteVets.org) have demonstrated the true purpose of these phony charges: to silence, or at least muffle, the loudest voice in their opposition.



IN THE INTEREST OF FULL DISCLOSURE: I am somewhat of a fan of Limbaugh’s. He's very well-read and informed for someone with no college education (in an era which over emphasizes university education). However, he is a bit (bit?) bombastic -- and more emotional than I can usually stomach from anyone. I still prefer him to any one of his critics.

I'm certainly no fan because I agree with everything he says, or every position he takes. I certainly don't. (I don’t even agree with my wife about everything.) And any agreements we have are accidental, perhaps even coincidental, and largely as a result of his borrowing from my (i.e., Christian) worldview. He’s a conservative; I’m a center-right Christian democrat. (No there isn’t a Christian Democrat party in this country – well, not one in which I would be comfortable, anyway – but as a political view, that is where I am.) It stands to reason that we will have many positions in common. But we have those positions for different reasons.

For example his position on economics seems to me pragmatic. His position on taxes is very similar to my own, especially as regards the welfare state. But his grounds are pragmatic: his primary concern seems to be that raising taxes doesn't "work", that the welfare state actually harms the people intended to be helped. My own opposition to the welfare state is normative: I have scruples about taking one man’s money (just because he has “plenty”) and giving it to someone else (just because he doesn’t have plenty). And I happen also to think that it doesn't work, but that is not the first question I ask. The first question I ask is: Is it ethical? (Hint: Thou shalt not steal; Thou shalt not covet, etc.)

Some Christian Democrats assert that the welfare state follows logically from the teaching of Scriptures to remember the poor. But to force non-Christians, an entire society, to exercise Christians' duties isn't right and ought to be seen (if certain people are to be consistent) as a violation of the so-called separation of church and state. After all, the same Scriptures teach us to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. I note that these same Christian Democrats – unless I missed it – who desire that we give the force of law to the Scriptural injunction to remember the poor are not advocating a return of the blue laws.

Be all that as it may. Rush critics are inclined to lump me in with him so I'm inclined, ocassionally, to defend him, rather than distance myself from him.

Besides, I'd rather be lumped in with Limbaugh than his ideological opponents. If for no other reason than that Limbaugh is right about at least one thing: his opponents' tactics are Stalinistic. A kinder, gentler Stalinistic to be sure. But Stalinistic nevertheless.

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James Frank SolĂ­s
Former soldier (USA). Graduate-level educated. Married 26 years. Texas ex-patriate. Ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America.
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