How You Helped Rush Limbaugh

14 Jan

Sure is quiet in here sometimes.

Right now it’s quiet because although I’m a pretty liberal guy, I just got through accusing a lot of my fellow liberals of doing exactly what they accuse Republicans of, when they circulated the scathing, vitriolic Wrath of Fools.

As a very liberal guy, the reason that I was speaking up about the Wrath of Fools is that it is destructive instead of constructive, and because it isn’t true.

Sure, there’s lots of truth in it.  No doubt about it.  The right wing spin machine is vicious and efficient and cynical, and yes, frequently disturbing.  Eliminationist rhetoric is the catch phrase these days, and yes, I’ve seen some disturbing examples of it in the right wing. 

I’m wondering why I can’t acknowledge the eliminationist rhetoric, and then still not buy into Pitt’s assertion that the rhetoric eliminated the six people Loughner shot with the weapons in his hands.  Anyone?

For all the truth in the article, it just isn’t connected to the killings in Arizona – there’s not even a whisper of a connection.  And that’s Pitt’s main point, stated clearly over and over and over – the right wing did this.  All of them did this. 

And that’s a lie.  A partisan lie, and it’s embarassing and sad.

It would be one thing if Loughner had a copy of Going Rogue in his pocket, with key phrases underlined.  It would be easier to say, look, he did this because of all these true things.  Even then – quite a stretch to blame it on the whole party.  People have been shooting each other – and at elected officials – a long time.  And an awful lot of people were exposed to the same rhetoric that day, and didn’t kill anyone.

Everyone simply assumed this was a right wing, Fox News gun nut, responding to the rhetoric, and it isn’t true.  So yes, plenty of truth in Pitt’s article and plenty of melodramatic namecalling, too, and all of it packed tightly around a central, horrible lie.

It made me sad, because turning into the right wing is exactly why I spoke up.  I don’t want to be like them.  And spreading such partisan nastiness, dropping a quick sound bite, then putting your fingers in your ears at the sound of rationality – well who does that sound like to you?

An enlightened liberal, or a big fan of Fox News?

Now only a few days later, I found this article by David Corn entitled Worst Things Said This Week: Rush Limbaugh Wins In This Category.

In it, Corn discusses this horrible quote by Limbaugh:

“What Mr. Loughner knows is that he has the full support of a major political party in this country. He’s sitting there in jail. He knows what’s going on, he knows that. . . . The Democrat party is attempting to find anybody but him to blame. He knows if he plays his cards right, he’s just a victim. . . . That smiling mug shot — this guy clearly understands he’s getting all the attention and he understands he’s got a political party doing everything it can, plus a local sheriff doing everything that they can to make sure he’s not convicted of murder — but something lesser.”
Now don’t worry – I know that Limbaugh’s horrible and ridiculous statement isn’t true.  It’s a typical line of crap for him really – he’s been doing this for what, thirty years?  But the fact is it’s got a really skewed, out-of-context truth in it.

A huge swath of our party is definitely trying to blame someone besides Loughner.  The disgusting lie that Limbaugh has stapled to this truth is the notion that we don’t want to blame Loughner at all.  But a lot of liberals are, in fact, engaging in a concerted rhetorical effort to blame the right wing.  And because we’re doing it, Limbaugh has that little sliver of reality he needs to wrap around this poison pill like a bit of cheese for his dog.

That’s in a nutshell the other half of my problem with Wrath of Fools.  It plays right into their hands.  We could have had the conversation about the eliminationist rhetoric without making the clearly invalid logical leap to It Caused Loughner To Do This.

It didn’t, plain and simple.  And the rhetoric is still a very bad thing, even in a world where we admit that it didn’t.  Instead as always, it’s a world where nobody who needs to change wants to listen to us, because we’re in the middle of flipping them off and calling them murderers.

I’m quite sure Rush Limbaugh appreciates it, though.  I’m quite sure I don’t.


Posted by on January 14, 2011 in Arizona Shootings, News/Commentary


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 responses to “How You Helped Rush Limbaugh

  1. Bill V

    January 15, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    Tommy, I hope your more left leaning friends settle down an come to their senses about what you have written. Reasonable, rational voices like yours get drowned out by the hot air rhetoric machines on cable.
    I am a Democrat, an educator and a patriot. I support almost everything having to do with progress and rational exploration of issues in our country. History has illustrated what happens when the church or the rich rule a county. I’m disappointed in our culture and have often thought of leaving for a different place with different quirks. Even though I am left leaning, I am a pro gun, NRA member. I chalk that up to the residual effects of being a slack jawed hay seed from Delaware County who once served in the Army Reserve. I believe our party needs to maintain some fire power for when the Right sets up a quazi martial law and sends us to internment camps or gas chambers. So, I find myself in the middle and really dislike when persons in the extreme wings of either party use the media and hyperbolic language to attract viewers. Some people just adopt the party line from the TV and never stop to think about what they, “believe.” Like you, I don’t believe that the media had anything to do with the situation in Arizona. The article Steve Spangler posted from NPR ( gives some scientific findings about guys like the shooter and provides valid insight into their motives.
    I find most on the left to be well educated and open minded. This open mindedness is strength in intellectual circles. It is a tragic flaw in the political arena. Where conservatives lack formal education they make up for it in knowledge of the party line and rigid adherence to it. Add in the religious and KABANG! We have Neo Cons. Dem’s don’t seem to have such a hard line. Granted, we have them but seem willing to be reasonable about them.
    Alright, Tommy C., I’m signing off here. I realized my long winded babble can wear on a person. Take care and thanks for being rational.

  2. sparrow1969

    January 17, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Hi Tommy,

    I read the article, and then tried to find your comments, but apparently I am a little late to the party as there are a lot to wade through, and I didn’t get to ready your actual comment. Given what you wrote here in your blog, though, I can just about imagine. And I’m sure I would agree.

    It’s more than a little scary to me that so many people think that Mr. Pitt’s excoriating rant on why the right wingers are all to blame for this is rational and acceptable. Quoting people like Ann Coulter and Dick Cheney points to the fact that this guy is stupid enough to show everyone how little in depth he thinks about these things. The way he flails around as he’s ranting also tells me a lot.

    What really gets me about this whole thing is that this terrible tragedy has nothing to do with politics necessarily. It has every thing to do with the fact that his Loughner was stark-raving mad. For whatever reason he chose these people as his targets, nobody is to blame but him. He could have easily decided to go to any other establishment in town that day, or any other day, but this is what he chose to do.

    So sad that people are such opportunists to use this event to further their own agendas in the never ending temper tantrum that is the preferred communication style of our political establishment.

    • Tom Chalfant

      January 18, 2011 at 2:44 am

      Opportunistic is the exact word that came to my mind. It really rattled me, how people on my side were so unwilling to listen to reason the second they realized I wasn’t on their side. I think it was easier for them to argue with right wingers, so they could just write them off as right wingers. Very strange experience, really truly made me question a lot of things about the left, I’m not joking.

      Not like I’m Johnny Right Wing all of the sudden, just more like I lost a little faith in the party I usually identify with.


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