Friday, September 08, 2006

Rush Limbaugh: Brave Slayer of Straw Men

I admit that I am undecided on the choice of Katie Couric as Dan Rather’s replacement on the CBS Evening News. I probably watch the network evening news 2 or 3 times per week on average and also listen to other news sources and Sunday morning pundit shows, as well as read various news periodicals on-line.

My fear is that Katie Couric will function as a soft news source with a cute smile and no gravitas. The verdict is still out. One item that is interesting, however, is the “Free Speech” segment where sundry mouthpieces are given a few minutes to voice their opinions. This week the topic is “The War on Terror” in observance of the looming 5 year anniversary of 9-11 and tonight’s guest was Rush Limbaugh, the tireless drug-addicted self-promoter with “intelligence on loan from God.” On the off chance that my radio tuner has accidentally fallen on his AM afternoon screech-fest, I am always impressed with his ability to whine on and on about some irksome non-issue and make absolutely no sense.

So I was interested to see what Rush would do with a few minutes of a legitimate news show like CBS. Not that his audience on radio is any smaller, but certainly network news carries a bit more cache, so what would Rush have to say with his 3 minutes (transcript) of air?

My friends, it's time to face a hard cold fact: Militant Islam wants to kill us just because we're alive and don't believe as they do. And they have been killing us for decades. It is time to stop pretending these are mere episodic events and face the reality that our way of life is in grave danger. Now, this threat is not just go away because we choose to ignore it.”

While I may not give “militant Islam” so much credit as to threaten our “way of life”, I would agree that ignoring it is not a viable option. But then, who exactly is advocating ignoring Islamists who threaten us? Do the militants want to kill us really because we’re “alive” and don’t “believe as they do”? Or could our support of despotic regimes such as the Saudis and other illiberal governments foment hatred among the burgeoning underclass within the Arab and Asian world? Can we pursue a dialog about justice throughout the Muslim world at the same time we pursue our security? Is our “addiction to oil”, as President Bush finally realizes, part of the equation?

Some say we try diplomacy. Yeah, well tell me, how do we negotiate with people whose starting point is our death? Ask them to wait for 10 years, before they kill us? When Good negotiates with Evil, Evil will always win. And peace follows victory, not words issued by diplomats.”

Rush develops his straw man further with the famous “some say” who want to “try diplomacy.” This “some say” bullshit may work with presidential town hall meetings of Stepford Republicans, but sorry, it won’t fly on CBS News. Who the hell are the “some” who want to negotiate? And with whom? Is the President’s leniency on Pakistan as they harbor Osama bin Laden part of the “diplomacy” that Rush finds so abhorrent? Did Reagan’s negotiations with Iran over arms and hostages in the 1980’s weaken our hand now as they pursue nuclear capabilities?

But some Americans, sadly, are not interested in victory. And yet they want us to believe that their behavior is Patriotic. Well, it's not. When the critics are more interested in punishing this country over a few incidents at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay than they are in defeating those who want to kill us; when they seek to destroy a foreign surveillance program which is designed to identify those who want to kill us and how they intend to do it; when they want to grant those who want to kill us, U.S. constitutional rights, I don't call that patriotic.”

Again, the straw men “some” Americans are 1) “not interested” in victory, 2) “more interested” in criticizing America and 3) seeking to “destroy” our clandestine services? Who? How? What I have been hearing the last few years is intelligent argument from the loyal opposition in response to illegal surveillance programs and criminal torture of prisoners, a discussion that acts to strengthen our position versus illiberal enemies by demonstrating our resolve for justice and against tyranny, even when the perpetrators are our own. "Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither."--- Ben Franklin. That means you, Rush.

“Patriotism is rallying behind the country, regardless of party affiliation, to defeat Islamo-Fascism. Patriotism is supporting our troops on the battlefield, not undermining the mission and morale. But let there be no doubt about this. America will prevail. We're the same country that survived a bloody Civil War, defeated the Nazis and the Soviets. Each generation has a responsibility to the next. Our generation will not disappoint.”

Rush Limbaugh, the “patriot” who avoided military service during the cold war, a time when our way of life was truly in jeopardy, is lecturing about patriotism: and on national television no less. No wonder, Dick Cheney chooses Rush’s show to present major policy announcements, where chickenhawks feel comfortable. Rush, the pathetic self-loathing addict, then lectures about “responsibility.” Ha! I had to look at the clock because I thought maybe this was Letterman’s comedy show, but no it’s still Couric.

I realize that Rush’s polemic will have no substantive effect on the national debate. Fearful warmongers will gobble this up as further evidence that we should forsake our Constitution as soon as we feel threatened by a bunch of thugs. More rational folks will dismiss Rush as “just another infotainer” who should not be taken seriously. Is such divisiveness on such important issues really entertaining?

I appreciate that Katie Couric is interested in giving voice to various opinions, but such undeveloped lines of unreason as Rush’s screed may serve only to dissociate the viewers from reality. There may be some valid arguments in favor of torture and surveillance, and against the tyrannical oppressors in the world, but Rush’s nitwitted idea of “patriotism” as blind “support for our troops” with no room for democratic debate 4 years into a military misadventure is ridiculous.

If Couric’s point was to show us Rush is an idiot, then she’s already a success. Now tell us some news, Katie.

1 comment:

Delilah said...

Ah yes, Katie Couric's "free speech" segment. If only it were actually a manifestation of the constitutional right to free speech... Bill Maher recently noted that he was asked to contribute to this segment and when he said he wanted to talk about religion, he was told that was off limits. So much for free speech. (Interesting that it was the centerpiece of that bloviating fool, Limbaugh's piece). Another interesting thing was Couric's conclusion to one of these "free speech" segments in which she concluded by saying that free speech was a privilege. Note to Ms. Couric: Is there anything in that head of yours??? The first amendment is a RIGHT not a privilege. That's why its the first entry in that document called the Bill of RIGHTS.