Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Facts Are Stupid Things

[[R A D I O]] * Can we finally bury what seemed to have become conventional wisdom about Republicans being more politically savvy than their Democratic brethren? This summer’s spectacle of right-wing Bush apologists and Iraq war supporters, facing off (on talk-radio shows, in person, and in careening pickup trucks) against aggrieved and protesting Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq, brings to mind nothing so much as humorist Will Rogers’ famous quote: “I’m not a member of any organized political party, I’m a Democrat!” In this case, though, the disorganization is all on the part of Republicans. George W. Bush could’ve dispensed with Sheehan’s antiwar protest in five minutes, just by coming down from his mountain bike to speak briefly with her; instead, he’s bought himself five weeks of negative media coverage, during a time when other White House news is sparse on the ground, and reporters and consumers are open to anything out of the ordinary. Any half-wit off the street could have told him that, yet none of his “brilliant” advisors apparently did so.

Likewise, it doesn’t take a genius to see that Rush Limbaugh (who I didn’t even know was still blathering over the airwaves) must have been experiencing a full brain meltdown when he asserted, during his August 15 radio show, that Sheehan’s story about her dead son, Casey, dying on April 4, 2004, while serving with the U.S. Army in Sadr City, Iraq, “is nothing more than forged documents.” He sought to further deride Sheehan by associating her with Bill Burkett, the retired lieutenant colonel in the Texas Air National Guard who, in the run-up to last year’s presidential election, provided CBS-TV’s 60 Minutes Wednesday with some controversial (and, it turned out, unauthenticated) documents relating to Bush’s National Guard service. Here’s the relevant Rush rant:

I mean, Cindy Sheehan is just Bill Burkett. Her story is nothing more than forged documents. There’s nothing about it that’s real, including the mainstream media’s glomming onto it. It’s not real. It’s nothing more than an attempt. It’s the latest effort made by the coordinated left.
While it’s nice to know that Limbaugh thinks the American Left is organized (you’d never know it, most of the time), he couldn’t be more wrong about everything else here. Proof of 24-year-old Army Specialist Casey Sheehan’s existence and death isn’t hard to find on the Web (see here and here). But apparently, when you’re a serial husband, hypocritical pain-medication addict, and chicken hawk with a big microphone and the knowledge to turn it on, something so pedestrian as the truth no longer matters.

Is it any wonder that people who restrict themselves to a diet of FOX News and conservative talk shows such as Limbaugh’s have been found to be some of the most ill-informed?

READ MORE: Keith Olbermann: Rush Limbaugh “Worst Person in the World” (MediaMatters); “Rush Limbaugh: World’s Greatest Satirist,” by Bob Cesca (The Huffington Post); “Cindy Sheehan’s Tragic Critics,” by John Nichols (The Nation); “Cindy Sheehan: Anti-war Catalyst,” by Patrick J. Buchanan (WorldNetDaily); “Antiwar Protester Vows to Continue Vigil Despite Vandalism at Texas Site,” by Elisabeth Bumiller (The New York Times); “War Protest Moves to Bush Neighbor’s Land,” by Angela K. Brown (AP).

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