Limbaugh's Loose Lips

(AP)
As discussed in this space last week, there's a lot of inappropriate things said and done that are trumped up into Major Media Controversies. Left-leaning groups and right-leaning groups – the screaming monkeys on both sides – are always trying to publicize things and raise their profile on the nation's agenda. So you weigh their claims see if the event meets the threshold for attention.

Bill O'Reilly's insipid observation about African-American restaurants earlier this week seemed like a media diversion that – given all the other events this week – didn't tip the scales into an actual problem.

But some things are outrages despite being spotlighted by ideological groups.

Take what was said by Rush Limbaugh this week, as reported on Talking Points Memo – inspired by the liberal group Media Matters -- yesterday:

In a conversation on Rush Limbaugh's radio program, a listener named Mike said that antiwar people never talk to "real soldiers," adding that they take their cues from soldiers who are against the war and "talk to the media."

To which Limbaugh rejoined: "The phony soldiers."

According to the account, Limbaugh also later added:
"What is the imperative in pulling out? What's in it for the United States to pull out? I don't think they have an answer for that, other than, `It's gonna bring our troops home. Save the troops. Keep the troops safe. Or whatever. It's not possible intellectually to follow these people."
Maybe it's because my father was a Marine. Maybe it's because my brother has been deployed to both Afghanistan and Iraq in the past few years. But suggesting that a soldier who has qualms with the military's operations in Iraq and chooses to vocalize those reservations is phony ... well, it tips this reader's scale.

It's too early to know how much is going to be made of this story, but it'll be interesting to see how the coverage of Rush belittling some soldiers compares to MoveOn.org's ad criticizing General Petraeus. (Labelled a "misstep" here.) He might not generate the media buzz he once did, but Rush still ranks as the number one most influential talk show host… and is heard on the Armed Forces Radio Network.

Regardless of how zealously (or not) they support our military engagement in Iraq, each and every soldier deserves our respect – a sentiment echoed in polls commissioned surrounding the Petraeus testimony. Are their wounds or scars "phony" if they take issue with our foreign policy?

Coincidentally or not, I see a small left-generated online campaign has begun to urge the Armed Forces Radio Network to remove Limbaugh from its airwaves. And the network's website today indicates that "there was a hard drive failure yesterday" at the site.

Stay tuned.

Update: (12:27pm) In writing this post, I reached out to a few sources. Al Jazeera's Josh Rushing -- the former Marine press liason who now serves as a correspondent for the English-language Al Jazeera network.

His thoughts? "It's ... exactly the kind of rhetoric that is devestating to the hope of having a fruitful dialog about Iraq.

"It assumes that all service members think the same way, undermining the idea that our military represents a cross section of our society with a wide representation of the views on the subject."