Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Rush Limbaugh and "Phony Soldiers"

A couple of weeks ago ... when this was all 'current news' ... I followed this story.

To recap, Limbaugh referred to "Phony Soldiers" during a session of his radio show. For whatever reason, Liberals in Congress pounced on this conservative commentator with all talons out. Besides speeches in Congress, a baker's dozen of United States Senators signed their name to a letter to the president of Clear Channel Radio (host of Limbaugh's show)castigating him for his lack of support for the troops.


By now we all know the story: Limbaugh put the original letter up for sale on EBAY, with a promise to match the winning bid, and the letter sold for a huge amount of money. With Limbaugh's matching funds, the total was millions of dollars, all of which was donated to a fund benefiting the families of servicemen who had died in combat.

This not only re-established the already long-established support of troops by Limbaugh, but resulted in an embarrassment for the congress-critters who were signatory to the letter.

One of the signers was, sadly, a Democratic senator from the great state of Oregon, Ron Wyden.

Background: Wyden was elected to congress on the basis of his personal support for 'old folks' in Oregon. He had initiated a group which he chose to call the "Grey Panthers" in an effort to get more Federal funding to support retired persons in Oregon. I thought it was a worthwhile goal, although suspiciously smacking of Nanny-statism, so I supported Wyden even though I knew him from the days when he was a City Councilman in Portland, and later a State Representative. (I once was visited by Wyden when he was door-to-door campaigning for the House in Oregon, and told him that he didn't have my vote because I didn't agree with his politics ... even though I was a registered Democrat at the time. This was Long, Long Ago and Far, Far away.)

Moving up to Current Era:
When I saw that one of the signers was a senator from my home state, I wrote to him to express my disappointment that he had allowed himself to be distracted from the important business of the Senate to lend his name, and the prestige of both his office and his constituency, in the service of a purely partisan attack on a private citizen. I thought that Limbaugh had established the appropriate context for his comment, and that it had been validated at least twice (here and here) in sufficient detail to confirm that his reference was NOT intended to castigate serving military personnel who disagreed with current use of the military, but rather to identify and disavow private citizens who were NOT 'serving military personnel' although they claimed to be such for their own personal aggrandizement ... a la Jesse MacBeth.

In my email, I stated these facts (although without the links which you see here.)

Why do I bring this up after the controversy is essentially over?

Because today, LONG after I had taken my U.S. Senator to task for supporting the vituperative and odious attack on a private citizen, I received an email from U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) which attempted to justify his participation. I offer the full text of Wyden's letter here, without comment, so that you can know the perfidy of our serving senators:

Dear Mr. *********:

Thank you for contacting me about statements made by Rush Limbaugh regarding American soldiers. I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue.

During a September 2007 radio broadcast, Mr. Limbaugh used the term "phony soldiers" in reference to soldiers who are critical of the U.S. effort in Iraq. In response, I joined several Senate colleagues in sending a letter to the CEO of Clear Channel Communications, which syndicates Mr. Limbaugh's show. Our letter called on Clear Channel to repudiate Mr. Limbaugh's comments and to request that he apologize to our men and women in service.

I have heard from many Oregonians who condemn Mr. Limbaugh's comments and many who defend his right to free speech. Let me be clear: our letter did not call for Mr. Limbaugh's termination or threaten his right to express himself as he wishes. Instead, the letter simply expressed the belief that the brave men and women risking their lives in Iraq deserve the right to question the wisdom of the war without having their military service or patriotism called into question.

Thank you again for keeping me apprised of the issues that are important to you. If I may be of assistance in the future, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Ron Wyden
United States Senator

To write to me, go to http://wyden.senate.gov/ and choose the "E-mail Ron" link. Please do not reply to this e-mail. Mail sent to this address cannot be answered.

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