Politics & Policy

Fraternity Rush

Now comes a well-financed media campaign against Rush Limbaugh in a fruitless attempt to discredit him as a forthright apologist for the detainee abuse. Conservatives should take heart. First, the un-listenable (in every sense) Air America squanders buckets of liberal cash and now the Left is generously funding David Brock as their utterly implausible media watchdog. His first big target is Rush. The Left has always regarded the most-successful radio-talk-show host in history as a malevolent propagandist, and their acolytes in the White House press corps eagerly embraced the Brock smear and badgered Scott McClellan to repudiate the phony charge. They were sensibly blown off. But, a partisan parasite finding eager hosts among White House reporters is a depressing spectacle. And, just as calls for Don Rumsfeld’s resignation are aimed at President Bush, the attack on Rush is designed to discredit conservatives.

I had resolved to ignore “Media Matters” given that we have a war to win and can count on its own silly, shoddy analysis to render it irrelevant, but I’ll take the bait this once because it presents a classic example of Brock’s m.o. in his latest reincarnation. Rush fans who might have missed the broadcasts now being used to attack Rush are thoroughly familiar with both parties and so are likely to assume that Brock and company are firing blanks. They would be right.

The manufactured outrage accuses Rush of callously dismissing the evidence of detainee abuse as “no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation” on his May 4 show. But, he didn’t. Before he made the crack about Yale’s secret society, which he later explained he mentioned to taunt the media given their contempt for how Bush spent his years in New Haven (Caution: Rush listeners should be accompanied by a sense of humor), he had repeatedly condemned the MP’s behavior.

On May 4, in the latest display of Rush’s unerring sense of the sentiments of America’s non-elites, Rush was ready to punish the guilty, knock off the self-flagellation, and get on with winning the war. He shared the unanimous condemnation of the guards’ behavior, but feared an over-correction that would jeopardize lives if legitimate coercive interrogation techniques were abandoned. He said, “Now, yeah, it’s bad. It’s unfortunate, shouldn’t have happened. It’s over! We found out about it. We’re going to do something about it. We’re investigating it. Fine. Fini, exclamation point, it’s over, get used to it!” And later, “It’s bad enough as it is, without having to blow it up into something that’s going to tie our hands and hamper us in the effort that we’re engaging in over there.” Rush was an early welcome tonic to the media and politicians who preferred to wallow in the isolated despicable abuse in an orgy of self-recrimination.

Unlike the Left, that transparently prefers this latest image of the American military to the daily evidence of their courage, character, and self-sacrifice, Rush went on to defend our troops. “And that’s the thing that is dangerous, bad, and wrong. And that is not to defend what happened and it is not to suggest that it’s harmless and no big deal, but then expanding on this and trying to say this is the kind of behavior that defines the U.S. military, that’s being done on purpose by people who wish to wound the U.S. military, and they are probably the same people who try to make us believe they support the troops.” This is Rush’s true offense. He’s dangerous because he convincingly explains what the Left is up to. Not for the first time, he was more prescient than I was. As though I were a natural blonde, it took me longer to fully appreciate the same thing.

No wonder these liberals are doomed in talk radio. They apparently think that a host has to repeat himself over and over to provide the perfect context for every remark he makes. During that three-hour broadcast Rush had made his condemnation of the detainee abuse clear. Brock’s case rests on ignoring about two hours and 59 minutes of Rush’s show.

Rush’s angry, frustrated critics discount how hard it is to make an outrageous charge against him stick. But, we listeners have spent years with him, we know him, and trust him. Rush is one of those rare acquaintances who can be defended against an assault challenging his character without ever knowing the “facts.” We trust his good judgment, his unerring decency, and his fierce loyalty to the country he loves and to the courageous young Americans who defend her. For millions of us, David Brock is firing blanks against a bulletproof target.

– Kate O’Beirne is Washington Editor for National Review.

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