Last week, right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh declared that soldiers who support American withdrawal from Iraq are "phony soldiers".
Today, Majority Leader Harry Reid gave a seven-minute speech on the floor of the Senate condemning Limbaugh and calling on his colleagues — both Democratic and Republican — to sign a letter of disapproval to the CEO of Clear Channel. He said that Limbaugh, whose show is broadcast on Armed Forces Radio, "owes the men and women of our Armed Forces an apology” for his comments that “went way over the line."
Reid also hit the hypocrisy of his conservative colleagues. Last week, 72 senators voted for the highly politicized, "bait and switch" resolution that condemned a newspaper ad by MoveOn.org. Yet most of those lawmakers have been silent on Limbaugh’s comments.
Reid’s statement below the fold.
Personally, I think Congress should have better things to do than pass resolutions condemning political commentary. But since the precedent last week for just that thing, then one wonders why Congress should be reluctant to do it now.
By the way, when Rush attempted to defend himself, he selectively edited the audio recording of his show and the transcript.
M. President, freedom of speech is one of our country’s most cherished values.
Nothing sets us further apart than the countries and regimes we oppose than our belief that everyone’s opinion matters, and everyone has the right to express it.
That is why, when we hear things on the radio that are offensive, by and large, we tolerate them.
But last week, Rush Limbaugh went way over the line — and while we respect his right to say anything he likes, his unpatriotic comments cannot be ignored.
During his show last Wednesday, Rush Limbaugh was engaged in one of his typical rants.
This rant was unremarkable and indistinguishable from his usual drivel, which has been steadily losing listeners for years — until he crossed that line by calling our men and women in uniform who oppose the war in Iraq “phony soldiers.”
This comment was so beyond the pale of decency that it cannot be left alone.
And yet, he followed it up with denials and an attack on Congressman Jack Murtha, a 37-year active member of the Marine Corps.
M. President, we have been debating the Iraq war here in the Senate and throughout the country for not months, but years.
There are good, patriotic Americans who favor the war — and good, patriotic Americans who oppose President Bush’s handling of it.
Neither party holds a patent on patriotism.
I know all my Republican colleagues would agree with that.
Yet Rush Limbaugh took it upon himself to attack the courage and character of those fighting and dying for him and for all of us.
Rush Limbaugh got himself a deferment from serving when he was a young man.
He never served in uniform.
He never saw in person the extreme difficulty of maintaining peace in a foreign country engaged in civil war.
Ye he thinks that his opinion on the war is worth more than those who are on the frontlines.
And what’s worse — Limbaugh’s show is broadcast on Armed Forces Radio —
– Which means that thousands of troops overseas and veterans here at home were forced to hear this attack on their patriotism.
Rush Limbaugh owes the men and women of our Armed Forces an apology.
On Friday, many Democrats joined me in drafting a letter to the Chief Executive Officer of Clear Channel, Mark Mays that we will send out this week. […]
I can’t help but wonder how my Republican colleagues would have reacted if the tables were turned — if a well-known Democratic radio personality had used the same insulting line of attack against troops who support the war.
The letter I read will be available on the Senate floor for the entire day. My colleagues on both sides of the aisle will have every chance to add their names to it, and I encourage all of us to do so.
If we take the Republican side at their word that last week’s vote on another controversial statement related to the war was truly about patriotism, not politics, then I have no doubt that they will stand with us against Limbaugh’s comments with equal fervor.
I am confident we will see Republicans join with us in overwhelming numbers. Anything less would betray a double standard that has no place in the United States Senate.
I ask my colleagues, Democrat and Republican alike, to join together against this irresponsible, hateful, and unpatriotic attack — by calling upon Rush Limbaugh to give our troops the apology they deserve.