September 28th, 2007
11:10 AM ET
11 years ago

Dems seize on Limbaugh's 'phony soldiers' comment

Democrats are seizing on recent comments from Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - In the wake of the high-profile uproar from Republicans over a ad attacking Gen. David Petraeus, Democrats are seizing on recent comments from popular conservative talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh who said on a recent broadcast on Iraq that some veterans who criticize the war in the media are "phony soldiers."

Democrats are pointing to comments Limbaugh made Wednesday when he and a caller were discussing critics of the Iraq war:

"What's really funny is, they [Iraq war critics] never talk to real soldiers," the caller said. "They like to pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and talk to the media."

"The phony soldiers," Limbaugh then said.

In a statement issued Thursday, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, called Limbaugh's comments a "personal attack on our men and women in uniform" and "reprehensible."

"It minimizes the sacrifice our troops in Iraq and their families are making and has no place in the public discourse," he added. "Rush Limbaugh owes our military and their families an apology for his hurtful comments that minimize their service to our country."

Also Thursday, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, a veteran of the Vietnam War, called the comments a "disgusting attack."

“In a single moment on his show, Limbaugh managed to question the patriotism of men and women in uniform who have put their lives on the line and many who died for his right to sit safely in his air-conditioned studio peddling hate," Kerry said in a statement. "He is an embarrassment to his party, and I expect the Republicans who flock to his microphone will now condemn this indefensible statement.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Pennsylvania, an Iraq War veteran, said, "Someone should tell chicken-hawk Rush Limbaugh that the only phonies are those who choose not to serve and then criticize those who do."

And on the House floor Thursday, Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr., D-New Jersey, said Republicans should hold and Limbaugh to the "same standard."

"I wonder if Republicans who showed so much outrage towards yesterday will hold Rush Limbaugh to the same standard, and I wouldn’t hold your breath," he said.

On Wednesday, the House voted 341-79 to condemn the liberal group's recent newspaper ad dubbing Petraeus "General Betray Us?"

UPDATE: Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, a candidate for president, is the latest Democrat to weigh in on the comments Friday, issuing a statement saying, "It's ironic, if not remotely surprising, that Rush Limbaugh – who makes his living shooting his mouth off – would impugn the patriotism and service of American troops simply because they have voiced their opposition to this failed policy. It's clear that he has no idea what the brave men and women of our armed forces are ostensibly fighting for."

Filed under: Iraq • Rush Limbaugh
soundoff (402 Responses)
  1. David, Fort Worth TX

    What in the HELL is Congress coming to? Supposedly, there are all these *major* crises going on out there in the world, and yet they want to spend all their time denouncing this media pundit or that popular figure. First, they decided it would be worth Congress's time to condemn for "General Betray-us" (which was disrespectful) and now they want some official congressional position on Rush's one-sentence comment on a radio show that less than 10% of the nation listens to. What a waste of Congressional time and tax-payer money. I say we vote 'em all out at the next election and get in some fresh blood. And while they're at it, let's get them working on things that are really important like term limits. Nobody needs to serve in a congressional body for 30 years (i.e. Ted Kennedy)

    October 3, 2007 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  2. Jerry, Fort Myers, Florida

    CNN devoted a substantial amount of space to this column, but failed to include the actual context of his comments. Rush was talking about a specific actual phony soldier, Jesse Macbeth, who made all sorts of false claims about being some special forces decorated hero and such, as well as having witnessed all sorts of horrible abuses by the US Military in Iraq. Truth is he was kicked out of boot camp after 45 days. That’s his entire military career. So, I think that qualifies him as a phony. The Dems know this, and it is extremely disappointing that they would use this incident in such a manner. I actually was listening to the original Rush broadcast as it happened, and I know that Rush was simply talking about the likes of Macbeth. CNN, Reid, Pelosi, Clinton, Media Matters, MoveOn, you have been caught in a lie. I’m not a big fan of anyone in congress these days, but this represents a new level of low, and for that matter, irrelevance. I am actually paying taxes for these people to disparage our troops on the floor of congress, then accuse Rush Limbaugh of all people of doing just that. Congress approval rating should sink below the depths of Hades for this one.

    October 3, 2007 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  3. Julie Seattle WA

    Hey Rush, I'll tell my husband who is a former fighter Pilot, Fighter Ace, POW and disabled Vet how you feel about him and his fellow soldiers. Go suck an egg you coward.

    October 3, 2007 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  4. John Stone Salem SC

    "Phony" means false. If Limbaugh had intended to describe a soldier using his right to dissent from American policy, he would have used a different descriptor.

    October 3, 2007 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  5. elizabeth san diego, ca

    why do people get so offended by everything? how bout who cares cause it was just a statement. i mean cmon, you draw a peace sign on the flag and its freedom of expression. hardly anyone even takes their flags down at night or what about all the ripped car window flags or faded bumper stickers. no one attacks that. you all scream freedom of expression until its something you dont agree with. i have a OIF veteran father and a husband in iraq right now but i still have enough balance left in myself to laugh comments like this off and move on. its not worth it to attack this nonsense.

    October 3, 2007 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  6. Doug, Washington DC

    Ignorant is bliss for you lousy anti-American pro islam, coward democrats. Facts are just so pesty!!! To bad the new media (mainly Rush, Drudge, etc) have put an end to the drive-by media's grib of lies. GOP in 08 😉

    October 3, 2007 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  7. Erlanger, KY

    Anyone who thinks Rush needs to appologize for anything having to do with this bogus fiasco obviously didn't listen to the program in question–or the programs that have followed since. As someone who was listening... I can inequivocably say that teh Dem. who are blathering about about how Limbaugh should be censored are either: (1) intentionally lying–in which case they do not deserve to serve as gov. officials and should be removed from office or (2)so grossly incompetent that they pose a grave danger to the well being of our country–in whichg case they should also be removed from office.

    October 4, 2007 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  8. Damon Hastings, Menlo Park, CA

    At no point does Rush say or imply that anti-war soldiers are phony.

    I'm a liberal, but even I know that Rush talks about "phony soldiers" all the time. He uses that term to refer to the people who claim to be soldiers who've seen horrible things in Iraq, but it turns out they're in fact not soldiers at all, or they're soldiers who never deployed to Iraq. His callers know that the term "phony soldiers" refers to these liars and non-soldiers. So when Rush said "Phony soldiers" in that broadcast, he was asking for clarification from the caller that the caller was talking about "phony soldiers" as defined by Rush. Rush's inflection makes this clear; but of course that doesn't come through in the transcript. The caller then confirms that Rush is correct. The caller goes on to claim that actual soldiers all support the war (which is of course false), and Rush then changes the subject. You'd have to re-read the transcript to understand how completely this changes the reading. And a few minutes later, Rush again refers to the "fake soldiers" that they were "recently talking about" and he gives Jesse Macbeth as an example. That's the guy who lied about deploying to Iraq (he actually washed out of boot camp.) So that's an example of who Rush means by "fake soldier".

    In closing, Rush is still a brown stain on the underwear of American political dialogue. But he never said anti-war soldiers are phony.

    October 5, 2007 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  9. Shawn, Honolulu, HI

    If he was referring to one soldier, he would have said "phony soldier" NOT "phony soldiers". Does anyone really know what "taken out of context means"? Either you say something or you don't. Seems like some kind of blanket excuse for when you put your foot in your big, fat mouth.

    October 13, 2007 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  10. Lawrence, New York, NY

    Rush Limbaugh is an unfortunate result of free speech in this country. Unfortunate because all he does is bark right wing rhetoric and play on the narrow minded beliefs of his audience who seem to think that putting tax dollars to anything but the support of the Military Industrial Complex will result in all humanity breaking down in the US.

    The sad thing is that I've never met a Rush fan with an education above the 10th grade, yet he seems to have quite a rather large audience. Is this a sign of the US’s declining intelligence as a whole on the world stage? Sadly, if you are a Rush fan, it may be true for you and your progeny. "would you like fries with that" may be your war cry if you listen to Rush and take him seriously.

    Rush is a waste of oxygen, food and space. Too bad his listeners haven't figured out he's a liar and a hypocrite, but then again, perhaps he is just like his base audience – shallow, fearful of anyone different and narrow minded to the extreme.

    Misery loves company I hear...

    October 16, 2007 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  11. Sarah, Boulder (of course), Colorado

    Whether he was speaking about current soldiers or fake soldiers, he hit the nail on the head without meaning to. Our soldiers now are mercenaries, some go into service just for the money, some go for personal reasons, but they are sent to foreign lands to do the bidding of a very few in the US. If you believe our men and women soldiers have been sent on anything other than a mercenary’s mission in Iraq, I think you have been deceived. Do you feel any safer? I don't. Sometimes violence is the answer, but what the heck is really the question we need to answer so badly?

    October 16, 2007 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  12. Charles McBurneydim

    Anyone that demands Rush apologize apparently has no clue as to what was really said and has been misled by certain news organizations.

    October 19, 2007 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  13. Just me.

    Rush Limbaugh is an ego driven talking head and is obviously more out of touch with reality than realized. I laugh at those of you who try to 'Support' or 'defend' his idiocy. He has the right in this country to say stupid things as do all of we here. I have the right to turn the channel anytime I get a hint he is going to be on. People like him are not worth listening to because they have no idea what they are talking about or they enjoy twisting everything to their point of view. He is a talking windbag of lunacy. Nothing more, nothing less.

    October 19, 2007 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  14. Sheik Holy Cow

    Just me. You said nothing. I will turn the channel now. Thanks for nothing.

    October 19, 2007 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  15. Mary Peterson, Lexington MN

    What a surprising comment from this bloated windbag! He needs to go to on a tour to Iraq and identify these 'phony soldiers'...doesn't he have a prescription to fill?

    October 19, 2007 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  16. Paul, nashville, tn

    All of you and all the democrats that spoke out on this issue are ignorant and petty, because you took one little thing out of what he said instead of seeing the whole discussion. You are taking it out of context and are just trying to find something else to keep people from seeing the problems with your party by pointing out all the "so-called" problems with people that support the republican party even to this pitiful point. TYPICAL!!!

    October 19, 2007 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  17. Casey, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

    It was taken out of context. CNN sucks at giving the correct and complete information on a story! Despite what anyone may think of Rush, it was taken out of context. He was referring to "soldiers" who never even made it out of this country and LIED about war coverage.

    October 19, 2007 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  18. Mellyn Portland, Oregon

    So amusing when you read the comments. So many "Who cares about Rush?" and yet the Democrats are STILL trying to shut him up and shut Clear Channel down.

    October 19, 2007 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  19. Clyde Phoenix, AZ

    Hey Freak show never get to the truth Democrats. Why is it impossible for you to get the real story? Oh thats right you cant handle the truth. Rush was not talking about soldiers, but a boot camp wash out that never made it. This "phony soldier" is who you whacko Dems were loving and lapping up his lies. So Rush called this wash out a "phony soldier." Any one that knows the truth knows Rush is an avid supporter of our troops regardless of Politcs. Get it right Dems!

    October 20, 2007 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  20. Glenn, Las Vegas, NV

    I’m not a big Rush lover but, go back and skim this CNN article one more time. The lead paragraph announces the Democrats’ actions in the Senate regarding Limbaugh’s statement then the remainder of the article reports the reactions from the Chairman of the Democrat CCC, John Kerry, Patrick Murphy, Frank Pallone, and Chris Dodd—all Democrats. There isn’t a single response from a Republican in this article and the only statement from Limbaugh to explain his side of the story is a three word sentence, “The phony soldiers,” taken from what I’m told was a 2-day discussion on his radio program. If I hadn’t researched this myself I would have never known the truth! Not only is this story unbelievably biased, but it’s also factually inaccurate and incredibly unbalanced. Come on CNN, I expect more from you.

    October 20, 2007 01:15 am at 1:15 am |
  21. Mike, New Bern, NC

    I currently serve in the military, and from my point of view Rush is dead on about the PHONY soilders that go to the media and complain about the war. You never see the media talk to the military members that proudly serve the country and believe in what we are doing because that wouldn't make a good story now would it. When this war started, you have all kind of "PHONY" soilders saying i didn't join the military to go to War, i joined to recieve a free education or some other excuse that they threw out there, and thats the one's Rush would be talking about.

    October 20, 2007 02:13 am at 2:13 am |
  22. Ken K; Philadelphia, PA

    Limbaugh is a self-agrandizing, xenophobic, narrow-minded fascist.

    And anyway, when contemplating quotes from any celebrity, one must consider the source. In Limbaugh's case he should not be considered at all...

    October 20, 2007 07:17 am at 7:17 am |
  23. Brian Dover Jacksonville, AR

    I am currently deployed to Iraq. I noticed that this article was not fair and balanced. Show me where you ask Limbaugh about these comments. I have been a listener to his awesome show since 1994. Oh, and by the way, if you are going to report something, make sure you have your facts straight. Fair and balanced my ass!!

    October 20, 2007 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  24. David Bignell, Dayton Ohio

    This example of poor reporting is why alternative media is gaining ground in America. The real story here is that the government has waged war on an American citizen for speaking his mind. He was not being critical of the troops. Everyone knows the support he has provided them.

    Thanks for participating in the march toward Government controlling our lives and our speech.

    October 20, 2007 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  25. Matt, Mount Pleasant MI

    what a waste of time

    October 21, 2007 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
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