Rush Limbaugh, Vindicated

The ruckus over the Rush Limbaugh "phony soldiers" statement is dying down. It ought not to. There is a huge story here.

What did Rush say? In a September 26 conversation with a caller to his program who claimed the media never interview "real soldiers," but just people out of the blue, Rush added for emphasis, "the phony soldiers."

The left saw its opportunity and pounced with a vengeance. Led by the George Soros-funded and Hillary Clinton-inspired Media Matters outfit, it unleashed a scorched-earth attack on Limbaugh for insulting the military, stating that any servicemen or women who might oppose the war in Iraq had been defamed by the talk show host as "phony soldiers."

The television networks, newspapers, and leftist blog sites were ablaze with stories about Democratic outrage. There were calls for his show to be yanked from the Armed Forces Radio Network. There were demands that Clear Channel make Rush apologize, and that advertisers pull their sponsorship.

Presidential candidates denounced him. Congressional leaders -- the usual crowd of Reid, Pelosi, Harkin, Kerry, etc. -- denounced him. A formal congressional resolution condemning Limbaugh was drawn up by Rep. Mark Udall (D- CO) and reportedly had more than one hundred Democrat (and one Republican) signers. The message was clear: Limbaugh's anti-military insult could not, and would not be tolerated.

How disingenuous was this leftist attack on Limbaugh? Let us count the ways.

1.  Before reviewing the facts of the case, one has to shake his head in disbelief that anyone would accuse Limbaugh of an anti-military bias. A day doesn't go by when he isn't praising our military on his radio program. He's visited the troops on the battlefield in Afghanistan, and brought comfort to our wounded at the Walter Reed Army hospital. He's raised and donated millions to military charities. It is no wonder that he is the single most popular personality on the Armed Forces Radio Network.

2.  Less than two minutes after uttering the words "phony soldiers," Limbaugh elaborated on the subject, explaining exactly what he meant by the term. He named one Jesse Macbeth as an example of a phony soldier. Macbeth had become an overnight darling of the far left, a self-described Iraq war veteran and Purple Heart recipient man who posted a YouTube video denouncing American military atrocities he'd witnessed. Except he was never awarded a Purple Heart. He was never in Iraq. In fact, he was never in the military, period. He was tossed out of boot camp after four months. Macbeth is now in prison serving a five-month term for falsifying Army records and applying falsely for veterans' benefits. Limbaugh was right.

Limbaugh also pointed that that he wasn't the first to discuss the Macbeth phony soldier story. Brian Ross had filed a report on this man several nights before, on ABC's World News. Mr. Ross even used the term "phony soldier" -- and not a soul on the left found fault with that.

3.  So the left returned with another charge: Limbaugh had used the plural, "phony soldiers," therefore Limbaugh's sole example -- Macbeth -- was inadequate. So are there any other "phony soldiers" out there?  Jeffrey Sullivan, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington, thinks so. Besides prosecuting Macbeth, he's prosecuted another five "phony soldiers." Jim O'Neill, the assistant inspector general for investigations at the Veterans Administration, confirms that the federal government is presently conducting another 60 such "stolen valor" cases. Rush was right, in spades.

And when Rush fought back, that military hawk Sen. Tom Harkin took to the floor of the Senate to denounce him for engaging in a publicity stunt, for ratings. In other words, Rush had no right to defend himself.

4.  The left knows Rush was correct, yet, just as with the spurious racist accusations against Bill O'Reilly the week before, the attacks continued for days, unabated. This is no accident, and no coincidence. Yesterday it was MoveOn. Today it's Media Matters. This is the far left at its repugnant worst, perfectly content to destroy a man's reputation through dishonest attacks if it will further its agenda. Josef Stalin would be proud of this movement.

Rush has beaten them all back now. In fact, as with the Petraeus/"Betray Us" attacks by MoveOn, this newest round of attempted character assassination backfired, and did nothing but re-energize conservatives. But this won't stop the left. Tomorrow it will be Sean Hannity, or Mark Levin, or maybe Laura Ingraham. This group plays for keeps.

And what of all those media outlets giving aid and comfort to the leftists who attacked Rush? Now that we know there are several dozen cases of "phony soldier" scandals, just as Rush suggested, how many stories have they devoted to them, thus vindicating Rush? Check for a Jesse Macbeth story in a Nexis database search on CBS, NBC, and NPR. Search Time and Newsweek. Look up the Washington Post, the New York Times and USA Today.

You won't find a one.

L. Brent Bozell III is President of the Media Research Center.