In a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed – Rush Limbaugh: Liberals and the Violence Card – Rush Limbaugh was justifiably fierce in his response to the recent left-liberal anti-Tea Party offensive. He was particularly scathing in regard to Bill Clinton, who in a recent speech and op-ed left the distinct impression, without ever quite saying so, that Tea Party sentiment equated with incitement to new Timothy McVeighs. Limbaugh called Clinton’s past indictments of talk radio “slander,” and accused the left of advancing a transparent double standard – exhibiting no discomfort when leftists take to the streets in often violent protest against conservative governments and capitalism, but shrieking like frightened little children when someone from the right dares to speak up.
So far so good.
Yet here’s how Limbaugh closes his op-ed, when singing the praises of the “clear majority of the American people” who, according to him, oppose the “Obama way”:
They are motivated by love. Not hate, not sedition. They love their country and want to save it from those who do not.
How is Limbaugh doing anything categorically different from what he accuses Bill Clinton of doing? It’s not as though this was an op-ed about foreign policy. It was all about domestic politics. So who is supposed to be endangering the country? Who is it who doesn’t, according to Rush, love the country?
He is leaving the distinct impression, not just coming close to saying but pretty much saying, that the Obama Administration and its supporters do not love the United States of America, and are seeking to destroy it. The clear implication is that the liberal left are engaging in treason. They’re not fellow Americans any longer, but enemy invaders.
This isn’t some cherry-picked, decontextualized offhand remark from 15 hours/week of entertaining and engaging live radio. It’s the conclusion of a written op-ed. And in a few sentences it defeats Limbaugh’s entire purpose, of putting himself and people like him on a higher, more positive, more grown-up and also more truly American, dissent- and debate-friendly plane than those on the other side.