So Harry Reid is calling on all Senators to sign a letter condemning Rush Limbaugh for referring to soldiers in Iraq who have serious reservations about the war "phony soldiers."
I really don't know which is more exasperating -- that our Senators think it is their job to tell people at large how they should exercise their right to free speech, or that they fire back at Limbaugh in such a weak and meaningless way. I suppose they have to do something or we will be treated to an endless parade of Cornyn amendments where the Village Elders tell us all how displeased they are with such "uncivilized" rhetoric via fiat. They're only in this jam because they foolishly let the Cornyn MoveOn censure bill onto the floor in the first place. But now it's done, and they can't put the toothpaste back in the tube. Would that their gesture was something more effective than stomping their feet and shouting "I know you are, but what am I?"
From Reid's statement:
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.
No, Harry, actually he didn't. Rush may be drug gobbling bloviator who evaded military service courtesy of a giant butt pustule, but his comments were well in line with what is considered free speech in this country, and that actually isn't any of the Senate's business.
What is the Senate's business, however, is that Rush Limbaugh is on Armed Forces Radio Network. His show is broadcast daily to nearly a million troops in 177 countries. In a poll conducted earlier this year, only 35% of service members said they approved of George Bush's handling of the war while 42% disapprove, and 41% say the US is not very or not at all likely to succeed. A full 37% say the US should never have gone to war. It's their network, too.
These young men and women do not deserve to have to listen to their commitment being besmirched by Rush Limbaugh, who never served in the armed forces and whose idea of personal valor is sending his $380 a week housekeeper out to buy his drugs for him. He's got no business on the radio launching attacks on military personnel like that, and his right to free speech does not guarantee him placement there at government expense. I'm sure the GOP would fight like hell to keep him on -- look at all the effort they went to in order to keep Republicans on the reservation with Ari Fleisher's ads and the Petraeus three ring circus -- but that's because removing him would actually be meaningful.
Take Rush off the air. Really, Senators, protecting the troops from this kind of abuse actually is what you are elected to do.
Update: Limbaugh, with the help of Fox News, cuts 1 minute and 35 seconds of the 1 minute and 50 second discussion and pretends he never made the offending comment. Credulous wingnuts everywhere will no doubt take the bait. The entire clip is can be found here.
Jane Hamsher blogs at firedoglake.com.