Limbaugh attacked Democrats for remaining seated when Bush touted decline in abortions -- but Republicans sat, too

››› ››› JEREMY SCHULMAN

Rush Limbaugh repeatedly criticized Democrats for failing to give President Bush a standing ovation following a segment of the State of the Union address in which Bush touted long-term declines in abortions and teen pregnancies, despite the fact that Republicans also remained seated.

On February 1, nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh repeatedly criticized Democrats for failing to give President Bush a standing ovation following a segment of the State of the Union address in which Bush touted long-term declines in abortions and teen pregnancies. Despite the fact that Republicans also remained seated in response to that line, Limbaugh insisted that "the feminists are not going to put up with the Democrats standing up and cheering that number" and that "abortion is the sacrament to the religion of feminism." In addition, Limbaugh baselessly asserted that "Democrats can't bring themselves to applaud the fact that there are even fewer abortions taking place and that teen pregnancy's down." In fact, footage of the speech reviewed by Media Matters for America shows Democrats as well as Republicans applauding this line.

From Bush's January 31 State of the Union address:

BUSH: In recent years, America has become a more hopeful nation. Violent crime rates have fallen to their lowest levels since the 1970s. Welfare cases have dropped by more than half over the past decade. Drug use among youth is down 19 percent since 2001. There are fewer abortions in America than at any point in the last three decades, and the number of children born to teenage mothers has been falling for a dozen years in a row. [applause]

After playing an audio clip of this segment of Bush's speech, Limbaugh told listeners, "The Democrats sat on their rear ends." Limbaugh added: "But they couldn't even -- because abortion is the sacrament to the religion of feminism, and the feminists are not going to put up with the Democrats standing up and cheering that number." Later in the show, Limbaugh told a caller that the Democrats were "sitting down during a discussion of cultural improvements like fewer abortions [and] fewer teen pregnancies. They sit down on that."

Limbaugh did not inform viewers, however, that Republicans also remained seated in response to Bush's statement on the decline in abortions and teen pregnancy. The video feed used by the major networks clearly shows prominent Republicans -- including Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) -- remaining seated while applauding. The camera then zoomed out, revealing a room full of seated Republicans. Democrats were not visible in the shot.

Limbaugh's assertion that "Democrats can't bring themselves to applaud the fact that there are even fewer abortions taking place and that teen pregnancy's down" also appears to be incorrect. Although the video feed used by the major networks does not show how Democrats responded to Bush's statement, C-SPAN used a different camera angle in which a number of applauding Democrats are clearly visible in the foreground. (However, most of the Democrats who attended the speech are not visible in this shot.)

From the February 1 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show:

LIMBAUGH: America stands and cheers; Democrats sit down. This is another -- this just nailed them, folks. Democrats can't bring themselves to applaud the fact that there are even fewer abortions taking place and that teen pregnancy's down. I mean, if there was an objective media anywhere -- even a media concerned about the plight of the Democrats rather than focused on what they hope to convince people is wrong with Bush -- when the president of the United States, because even the, you know, certain members of the pro-abortion crowd love to say, "Well, we're not really pro-abortion. We're just for freedom, civil liberties, the rights of the mother, blah-blah-blah-blah-blah." And they go out of their way -- "We're not" -- even Hillary said, "Abortion: we don't want it to happen, but we can't stand in the way." So here's a chance. OK, abortions are going down in America. That's something to cheer. No, not to the Democrats.

BUSH [audio clip]: America has become a more hopeful nation. Violent crime rates have fallen to their lowest levels since the 1970s. Welfare cases have dropped by more than half over the past decade. Drug use among youth is down 19 percent since 2001. There are fewer abortions in America than at any point in the last three decades, and the number of children born to teenage mothers has been falling for a dozen years in a row.

LIMBAUGH: The Democrats sat on their rear ends. They didn't -- I mean, folks, I mean, occasionally, well, [Sen.] Ben Nelson [D] would stand up now and then, from Nebraska. There'd be a couple of them like a jack-in-the-box, stand up real quick and then sit right back down. But they couldn't even -- because abortion is the sacrament to the religion of feminism, and the feminists are not going to put up with the Democrats standing up and cheering that number.

[...]

LIMBAUGH: They have become my parodies. They're, they're not going to realize they goofed up. They're, they're sitting around all day thinking they scored big home runs last night with these antics of theirs -- of sitting down during a discussion of victory -- of sitting down during a discussion of freedom -- of sitting down during a discussion of cultural improvements like fewer abortions, fewer teen pregnancies. They sit down on that.

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