by Scoobie Davis
The Blankley/Limbaugh Poison
It was fun listening to Rush Limbaugh getting creamed on his own show by Greg from Orlando (scroll down to 12/6 for the transcript). However, there was something in the transcript that is more important than Greg’s direct hits to the radio thug and Bush. When things got too hectic for Limbaugh and he muted Greg, he said something in his pseudo-conversation with Greg that deserves mention and discussion. Limbaugh cited Tony Blankley’s Washington Times column on John Kerry. Here is the part of Blankley’s column that Limbaugh cited:
Tim Russert asked whether there was any turning back on the presidential quest. Mr. Kerry responded: "Well, I mean, I hope not, but on the other hand, if you find that — you know, I can remember in times of war when you turn around and the troops aren't there behind you. . . ." Does he really remember that? He was a combat officer in Vietnam. Did his men fail to follow his lawful order? Did he attempt to rally the deserting troops? Was insubordination involved, or only a failure to keep track of his men's whereabouts during combat? Or, was he just slipping into his comments a sly reference to his military service?
Here’s Limbaugh’s take on Blankley’s column in his make-believe conversation with the Greg--who couldn’t answer back because Limbaugh muted him:
There’s just a story in the paper today, Greg, and I’m sorry, you missed this. I forget who wrote it—it might have been Tony Blankley’s column today. John Kerry said something, “You know, I’ve learned a lot with my military experience and if you’re leading the way and you turn around and the troops aren’t behind you, you got a real problem.” Now what he was trying to say is: Bush is trying to take us into areas nobody wants to go, but the answer to the question—or the question that is: “Oh, Senator, you were commanding officer in Vietnam and you actually turned around and troops weren’t there? What kind of commanding officer were you?” We can play this any number of ways you want, Greg, baby.
It was obvious to anyone living in reality that Kerry was speaking metaphorically about turning around and not having the troops there when he was in Vietnam. Blankley and Limbaugh chose to take Kerry’s innocuous remark, put it under a microscope, and give the most jaundiced possible interpretation to it. Limbaugh was correct when he said “we can play this any number of ways you want.” I agree: it’s just that Limbaugh and Blankley played it down and dirty. ldabney put it well: "But what he's doing is called "reifying your metaphor", treating something that's abstract as if it's concrete. Tsk, tsk! The ability to understand metaphor and analogy is a higher order thinking skill, and I doubt that Rush wants his "dittoheads" mucking around with such things, even though, as we can see, he understands it very well."
It is manifestly ridiculous to suggest that Kerry was alluding to a concrete situation in Vietnam in which he faced soldiers who were flouting his authority. What would these guys know about Kerry’s tour of duty anyway? Limbaugh, as we all know, had the pimple on the ass excuse to avoid Nam. To the best of my knowledge, in the 1960’s, Blankley’s primary activities involved creating a phony front group, the Filthy Speech Movement, to discredit the Berkeley Free Speech Movement (Obviously, this was good training for being the Washington Times’ chief political operative, er, I mean, editorial page editor). When Kerry was risking his life in the Mekong Delta, Blankley and Limbaugh were chugging beers at the Delta House. Am I alone in my outrage over these two clowns questioning the fitness of a commanding officer who was awarded a Bronze Star, a Silver Star, and THREE Purple Hearts?
A larger lesson should be learned here: The issue of a political opponent’s Vietnam era status is irrelevant to the hard right:
1) If you are the hard right’s political opponent who avoided the Vietnam draft (even if you opposed the war), then the hard right calls you a draft dodger (conveniently ignoring the shitload of Republicans who were in favor of the war and whose fathers pulled strings to keep them out of Southeast Asia).
2) If you are the hard right’s political opponent and you not only served in Vietnam but also spent years of your life in the Hanoi Hilton, you become the victim of a whispering campaign by Rove and company that you are mentally unstable because of your imprisonment. During the 2000 campaign, Limbaugh even had a parody commercial "The McCain Mutiny" that had John McCain as the paranoid Captain Queeg. John McCain, it’s time to leave the GOP.
3) If you are the hard right’s political opponent who served in Vietnam as a highly-decorated commanding officer, then the hard right will come up with a reason to question your competence as an officer—no matter how many medals you were awarded.
This reveals a fundamental truth: the hard right (which encompasses most of the Republican Party) cannot be reasoned with—it must be discredited and defeated. One exception: if you are a pushover like Juan Williams or Alan Colmes, you can be friends with the right and get a cushy deal with Fox News to be pushed around by the Neanderthals on that network.
UPDATE: Even many Freepers are not buying Rush's attacks on John Kerry. Some of the posts are downright pro-Kerry (at least regarding his military service) and anti-Limbaugh.