Sunday, February 10, 2008
Steamboat Springs Last Sunday, I suggested idolatry toward the Clintons should be cast aside by those who tilt left. Today, I proffer conservatives do the same with their iconic couple - Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter. Why? Because rhetoric aimed solely at divisiveness is no more appealing dressed in red than blue.
Last Thursday, Mitt Romney pulled out of the race after realizing a candidate who changes positions based on prevailing political winds can't buy the presidency - no matter how many hedge fund dollars inhabit his piggy bank.
Meanwhile, the affable Mike Huckabee is hanging on. But Huck is doing so with an eye toward staking a claim at Number One Observatory Circle with a V.P. nod.
That leaves John McCain with a path to the White House. A path blocked by Barack or Billary flanked on the right by political suicide bombers consisting of Rush, Coulter and dittoheads inhabiting the world of talk radio and Townhall.com.
Don't get me wrong. I've worked in talk radio as a commentator and show host. My political compass points right. My comments once so enraged the mayor of Baltimore he rushed to the studio, barged in while I was on-air and proposed a fight. Had pistols been at hand it might have been Burr/Hamilton II.
Hard punches because of policy differences should be the norm. But there is a limit to what is acceptable in attacking a politician personally. Limbaugh and Coulter have exceeded the limit.
Coulter, whose career consists of distorting the truth, has taken to calling McCain a liar for taking positions true conservatives disagree about. In pure gutter journalism - a place where she thrives - Coulter continually makes snide remarks belittling McCain's five years as a prisoner of war.
Here's Coulter two weeks ago: "These days, McCain gives swashbuckling speeches about the terrorists who 'will follow us home.' But he still opposes dripping water down their noses. He was a POW, you know."
Just this week Coulter wrote, "(McCain) hysterically opposes waterboarding terrorists and wants to shut down Guantanamo."
Putting aside the fact that Coulter is the one who routinely exudes hysteria, for her to denigrate McCain's POW status - a man who was tortured to the point he can't raise his arms high enough to comb his hair - is vile. It would be bad enough for a fellow vet to make such remarks. But for Coulter, who has sacrificed nothing for her country, to ridicule McCain's perspective on the value and efficacy of torture would be laughable if it weren't so disgusting.
Limbaugh is no better. Recently, he uses each show to berate McCain with personal attacks. As with Coulter, Limbaugh's attacks often are designed to personally belittle McCain's policies concerning how the U.S. treats those captured on and off the battlefield. Policies McCain truly believes will better protect our servicemen and women.
This is the same Rush Limbaugh who, after dropping out of college and losing his draft deferment, claimed he suffered from a cyst near his buttocks in order to sit out the Vietnam War while 58,000 of his contemporaries gave their lives. Compare Rush's demonstration of character to McCain, who volunteered to serve and refused his captors' offer of release until his fellow POWs were freed.
Given that history, Rush should show humility and deference when it comes to McCain's view on what constitutes torture and appropriate treatment of the enemy.
But humility is not in the repertoire of Rush, or Coulter. They seek to destroy McCain in a misguided belief the carnage will benefit the Republican Party come 2012.
But in their selfishness, are Rush and Coulter willing to aid al-Qaida? Evidently, that is what Romney fears.
In withdrawing from the race this week Romney stated: "If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of (McCain's) national campaign and make it more likely that Sen. Clinton or Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign be a part of aiding a surrender to terror."
Perhaps Rush and Coulter should listen more and talk less.
Rob Douglas spent 10 years as a political commentator and radio talk show host for ABC Radio and Hearst-Argyle Television, following an earlier career as a Washington, D.C., private detective. He currently works as a security consultant.