Rush Limbaugh's characterization of service members who advocate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq as "phony soldiers" was not the first time that he has labeled a military service member a "phony." On his June 27 radio show, Limbaugh said of Sen. John Kerry, whose Vietnam record was the subject of a smear campaign by the discredited Swift Boat Veterans and POWs for Truth: "The guy's a fraud! He's a total phony, and people were able to see it!"
As Media Matters for America documented, on the September 26 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio program, Rush Limbaugh characterized service members who advocate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq as "phony soldiers." It was not the first time, however, that Limbaugh has labeled a military service member a "phony." On the June 27 edition of his radio program, Limbaugh claimed that the discredited Swift Boat Veterans and POWs for Truth's smear campaign against Sen. John Kerry's (D-MA) Vietnam record "worked because it was true," adding: "The guy's a fraud! He's a total phony, and people were able to see it!"
As Media Matters documented, the Swift Boat Veterans' attacks against Kerry's military service during the 2004 presidential election were debunked or discredited.
From the June 27 broadcast of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
LIMBAUGH: So you've got -- you've got discord on the Democrat side, and now this [Washington Post columnist] Richard Cohen piece comes along -- "How the GOP Could Win." Some of you might think this is sophomoric, but to me it indicates two things, and I'll give you the details of it here in just a second. Cohen is worried about the McGovernization [sic] of the Democrat [sic] Party. Something I have told you is happening for two years. Because of their anti-war stance, because of their open hostility to victory, because of their investment in defeat -- they own it. You know it and I know it. That this is going to come back to haunt them at some point.
It's just off the page right now because of the immigration bill. People only have an emotional reservoir of so much content, and the immigration bill is attracting all the attention. But if you dig deep, you can find the Democrats out there a little worried. He said -- he starts his piece this way. "There are two ways to predict the winner of the '08 presidential race. You can check the polls or read some history. The polls tell you that with Bush's approval ratings abysmally low, with the war in Iraq becoming increasingly unpopular, with the GOP lacking a dominant candidate, and with the party divided over immigration, social issues and even religion" -- what's that mean -- "Mitt Romney's Mormonism," anyway, "the next president is bound to be a Democrat, but history begs to differ."
The history Mr. Cohen refers to is 1972. "By the end of that year, 56,844 Americans had been killed in Vietnam, a war that almost no one thought could still be won and that no one could quite figure out how to end. Nevertheless, the winner in that year's presidential election, Richard Nixon. Forty-nine of 50 states he won. The war, of course, went on. Just as it is hard to understand how the British ousted Winston Churchill after he had led them to victory in Europe in World War II, so it may be hard now to appreciate how Nixon won a landslide while presiding over such a dismal war.
"In the first place, he was the incumbent, with all the advantages and so forth. In the second place, back then the Vietnam War was not as unpopular as you might think -- or for that matter, as the Iraq war is now. In '72 almost 60 percent of Americans approved of the way Nixon was handling the war.
"But maybe more to the point, most Americans didn't endorse the way the Democrats would handle the war, nor the way the antiwar movement was behaving. Nixon seized on those sentiments and, in a feat that historians will be challenged to explain, characterized McGovern as something of a sissy. In fact, the Democrat [sic] presidential nominee was a genuine World War II hero, a B-24 pilot with 35 combat missions, and a Distinguished Flying Cross on his chest. Nixon, in contrast, had served during the war but never saw combat, but he had, however, seen the polls.
"This is similar to what happened in the '04 campaign. The Bush-Cheney ticket consisted of two Vietnam slackers. Bush had served in the Air National Guard, and Cheney had obtained five deferments. Their opponent was the much-decorated John Kerry. Yet during the campaign, the Republican ticket and its allies in the Swift Boat Veterans movement managed to paint Kerry as a quivering liar. The character attack was so bold, so outrageous, that it of course worked." No, it worked because it was true! The guy's a fraud! He's a total phony, and people were able to see it!
"Now we come to the current race. The war in Iraq is not -- or not yet -- an issue for Republicans. With the exception of [Rep.] Ron Paul [R-TX] and [former Virginia Gov.] Jim Gilmore [R]." Well, of course, he doesn't factor in [Sen. Richard] Lugar [R-IN] and [Sen. George] Voinovich [R-OH] jumping ship yesterday. But he goes on, to get to the end of this he says "this is where history raises its ugly head. The GOP is adept at painting Democrats as soft on national security."