Friday, October 05, 2007

What Rush Limbaugh actually said and did (Part 1)

Limbaugh's most recent pattern of bullshit behavior started during his radio show on September 26, 2007. During that show, many people believe that he called U.S. military personnel who criticize the Iraq war "phony soldiers." That is certainly the way I see it. An adequate discussion of this story requires several posts because, as usual, Rush has engaged in more manipulation and lies after the initial incident. I will begin with the transcript from his show on September 26. I obtained the transcript from two posts at Media Matters (here and here). The initial exchange below helps put the "phony soldiers" comment in context.
LIMBAUGH: Mike in Chicago, welcome to the EIB Network. Hello.

CALLER 1: Hi Rush, how you doing today?

LIMBAUGH: I'm fine sir, thank you.

CALLER 1: Good. Why is it that you always just accuse the Democrats of being against the war and suggest that there are absolutely no Republicans that could possibly be against the war?

LIMBAUGH: Well, who are these Republicans? I can think of Chuck Hagel, and I can think of Gordon Smith, two Republican senators, but they don't want to lose the war like the Democrats do. I can't think of -- who are the Republicans in the anti-war movement?

CALLER 1: I'm just -- I'm not talking about the senators. I'm talking about the general public -- like you accuse the public of all the Democrats of being, you know, wanting to lose, but --

LIMBAUGH: Oh, come on! Here we go again. I uttered a truth, and you can't handle it, so you gotta call here and change the subject. How come I'm not also hitting Republicans? I don't know a single Republican or conservative, Mike, who wants to pull out of Iraq in defeat. The Democrats have made the last four years about that specifically.

CALLER 1: Well, I am a Republican, and I've listened to you for a long time, and you're right on a lot of things, but I do believe that we should pull out of Iraq. I don't think it's winnable. And I'm not a Democrat, but I just -- sometimes you've got to cut the losses.

LIMBAUGH: Well, you -- you --

CALLER 1: I mean, sometimes you really gotta know when you're wrong.

LIMBAUGH: Well, yeah, you do. I'm not wrong on this. The worst thing that can happen is losing this, flying out of there, waving the white flag. Do you have --

CALLER 1: Oh, I'm not saying that. I'm not saying anything like that, but, you know --

LIMBAUGH: Well, of course you are.

CALLER 1: No, I'm not.

LIMBAUGH: Bill, the truth is -- the truth is the truth, Mike.

CALLER 1: We did what we were supposed to do, OK. We got rid of Saddam Hussein. We got rid of a lot of the terrorists. Let them run their country --

LIMBAUGH: Oh, good lord! Good lord.

[...]

CALLER 1: How long is it gonna -- how long do you think we're going to have to be there for them to take care of that?

LIMBAUGH: Mike --

CALLER 1: How long -- you know -- what is it?

LIMBAUGH: Mike --

CALLER 1: What is it?

LIMBAUGH: Mike, you can't possibly be a Republican.

CALLER 1: I am.

LIMBAUGH: You are -- you are --

CALLER 1: I am definitely a Republican.

LIMBAUGH: You can't be a Republican. You are --

CALLER 1: Oh, I am definitely a Republican.

LIMBAUGH: You are tarnishing the reputation, 'cause you sound just like a Democrat.

CALLER 1: No, but --

LIMBAUGH: The answer to your question --

CALLER 1: -- seriously, how long do we have to stay there --

LIMBAUGH: As long as it takes!

CALLER 1: -- to win it? How long?

LIMBAUGH: As long as it takes! It is very serious.

CALLER 1: And that is what?

LIMBAUGH: This is the United States of America at war with Islamofascists. We stay as long -- just like your job. You do everything you have to do, whatever it takes to get it done, if you take it seriously.

CALLER 1: So then you say we need to stay there forever --

LIMBAUGH: I -- it won't --

CALLER 1: -- because that's what it'll take.

LIMBAUGH: No, Bill, or Mike -- I'm sorry. I'm confusing you with the guy from Texas.

CALLER 1: See, I -- I've used to be military, OK? And I am a Republican.

LIMBAUGH: Yeah. Yeah.

CALLER 1: And I do live [inaudible] but --

LIMBAUGH: Right. Right. Right, I know.

CALLER 1: -- you know, really -- I want you to be saying how long it's gonna take.

LIMBAUGH: And I, by the way, used to walk on the moon!

CALLER 1: How long do we have to stay there?

LIMBAUGH: You're not listening to what I say. You can't possibly be a Republican. I'm answering every question. That's not what you want to hear, so it's not even penetrating your little wall of armor you've got built up.
I included this exchange because it shows Limbaugh's SOP of dealing in absolutes and broad characterizations. This caller said he was a Republican and a veteran, yet Rush kept asserting that just because the caller criticized the Iraq war he could not possibly be a Republican. I happen to know some Republicans who to a meaningful degree have criticized the war, and trust me, they are definitely Republicans. However, in Limbaugh's world, anyone who is against the Iraq war in any way is a Democrat, not a Republican.

With that in mind, here is the transcript of the conversation with the next caller.
LIMBAUGH: Another Mike, this one in Olympia, Washington. Welcome to the EIB Network. Hello.

CALLER 2: Hi Rush, thanks for taking my call.

LIMBAUGH: You bet.

CALLER 2: I have a retort to Mike in Chicago, because I am a serving American military, in the Army. I've been serving for 14 years, very proudly.

LIMBAUGH: Thank you, sir.

CALLER 2: 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."

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.

CALLER 2: 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 --

CALLER 2: 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.

CALLER 2: Exactly, sir.

_

LIMBAUGH: -- 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.

CALLER 2: Exactly, sir. And, and my other comment was -- and the reason I was calling for -- was to report to Jill about the fact that we didn't, didn't find any weapons of mass destruction. Actually, we have found weapons of mass destruction in chemical agents that [inaudible] been using against us for awhile now.

I've done two tours in Iraq. I just got back in June and there were many instances of -- since [inaudible] not know what they're using in their IEDs [improvised explosive devices]. They're using mustard artillery rounds. The VX artillery rounds in their IEDs.

Because they didn't know what they were using, they didn't do it right, and so it just kind of -- it, it didn't really hurt anybody but there are -- those munitions are over there, it's just -- it's a huge desert. If they've buried it somewhere, we're never gonna find it.

LIMBAUGH: Well, you know, that's a moot point for me right now --

MIKE: Rush --

LIMBAUGH: -- the weapons of mass destruction. We gotta get beyond that. We're, we're there. What -- who cares if, if -- we all know they were there and, and Mahmoud [Ahmadinejad, Iranian president] even admitted it in one of his speeches here about -- talkin' about Saddam using the poison mustard gas or whatever it is on his own people -- but that, that's moot, right? What, 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, and your colleagues over there is, is a great threat to them.

LIMBAUGH: It's just, it's frustrating and maddening, and it is why they must be kept in the minority.

Look, I want to thank you, Mike, for calling. I appreciate it very much. I gotta -- let me see -- got something -- 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. And they have their celebrities.

One of them was Jesse MacBeth. Now, he was a "corporal," I say in quotes -- 23 years old.

[reading from "Morning Update" (subscription required)]

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, though. 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, a 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 -- 44-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 of the drive-by media and the Democrat [sic] Party as to who a genuine war hero is.

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 of the left is fiction, is what serves their purpose. They have to lie about such atrocities 'cause they can't find any that fit the template of the way they see the U.S. military.

In other words, for the American anti-war left, the greatest inconvenience they face is the truth.
(emphasis added). The emphasized portion is significant because of Limbaugh's spin once he started catching heat for the "phony soldiers" crack. As explained by Media Matters, Limbaugh
claimed that he had not been talking "about the anti-war movement generally," but rather "about one soldier ... Jesse MacBeth." Limbaugh further asserted that "Media Matters had the transcript, but they selectively choose what they want to make their point." To support this claim, Limbaugh purported to air the "entire" segment in question from the September 26 broadcast of his show. In fact, the clip he then aired had been edited. Excised from the clip was a full 1 minute and 35 seconds of the 1 minute and 50 second discussion that occurred between Limbaugh's original "phony soldiers" comment and his reference to MacBeth[.]
The emphasized portions are what Limbaugh left out of his version of the "entire" segment. Ah, but this is par for the course for him--do the very thing you accuse your critics of doing..

Given Limbaugh's penchant for absolutes and broad generalizations in name-calling, I have no doubt that "phony soldiers" was not limited to Jesse MacBeth. My opinion finds support in what Limbaugh and his corporate masters at Clear Channel have done in the last few days, but that will be discussed in subsequent posts.

And for anyone who wants to defend Limbaugh, I have a question: has he once said that those who have actually served or are currently serving in Iraq who have criticized the war are not in his mind phony soldiers? If he has made such a statement, I am not aware of it. Making such a statement would clarify this matter once and for all and bring an end to the controversy.

Ah, but Rush is not interested in clarifying anything. Clarification could bring calm and reduce emotion, and calm and lack of emotion don't sell--especially in Rush's world. And whether Limbaugh actually believes that those who criticize the war are "phony soldiers" is not his ultimate motivation. Making himself the news so that he stays in the spotlight so that he can get free publicity and more listeners and more money is what really motivates him. So in addition to being a lying, hypocritical, cowardly jackass, he is also a self-centered, greedy whore.

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