I hesitate to write yet another piece on either of these stories, as they've sort of been beaten to death here and elsewhere. You could argue that they are no more relevant than the typical news frenzies over Paris Hilton or Britney Spears, only in the political realm. And you just might be right.
But I'd like to point out why these stories interested me enough to write about them so extensively. It has little to do with the actual events themselves (a political advertisement, and a talk-radio host being himself). It has more to do with the way each story ended up being spun.
Let's start with MoveOn.org. Their ad contained a play on words (Petraeus/Betray Us), a pun that Rush himself employed to other ends. The rest of the ad detailed--fairly strait-forwardly--the reasons MoveOn.org doubted "The Petraeus Report."
The response was overwhelmingly negative, and still goes on some three weeks later. Republican politicians and right-wing pundits pounced, leading to condemnations by both houses of Congress, the President, and (sadly, in my view) many Democrats. But they weren't upset about the ad--not really. It was the play on words within the ad that provided the ire. Notice that the content of the piece was rarely discussed. Those two words, "Betray Us" provided a nuclear blast of faux outrage, far out of proportion to what the ad actually said.
Now, the Rush Limbaugh part of the story. Rush--who loudly railed against the MoveOn.org ad--essentially said that former and active duty soldiers who vocally oppose the war were "phony soldiers." When he was called on it, he backtracked, and insisted that he was referring to a particular soldier, Jesse Macbeth, who turned out to have been precisely that, a phony soldier.
It is true that Rush had done a ridiculous "Morning Update" mentioning Macbeth, who he falsly held up as a "left wing poster boy" who turned out to be a fraud. Fraud he may have been, but I've never heard of him. Not on The Randi Rhodes Show, The Thomm Hartmann Show, The Stephanie Miller Show, The Rachel Maddow Show, Countdown with Keith Olbermann--nowhere. Rush even brought up Macbeth later in the same show, a couple of minutes later, quite removed from his earlier statements.
I would argue that the mention was a "cover your butt for what you said earlier" moment. But whatever it was, Rush edited the recording of his show in a later broadcast in order to put the statements closer together. He did so, claiming it was "the entire segment." He lied.
The reaction to all of this was a staunchly defiant Limbaugh, and a fawning lock-step allegience from his listeners. Harry Reid read a statement into the record denouncing Limbaugh, and other Democrats spoke out against him. No resolutions though, other than one entered to commend him. Even with Limbaugh digging his hole deeper, it looks like the story will peter out, and it really is time for that, I'd agree. It's time to--ahem--move on.
Both stories boil down to a little tit-for-tat, a lot of faux outrage, and a bit of hypocrisy. Pundits like Sean Hannity will to this day quote every alleged negative remark about "the troops" made by any prominent Democrat, no matter what the context. Rush however is sacrosanct, for some reason. You will never see Hannity tapping his fingers as he rattles off his "outrages," and hear Limbaugh's remark in his list.
It all boils down to this. Democrats, when accused of making or not denouncing "negative" remarks will back down, apologize or not comment. They tend to take whatever spin FOX "News" has established, and work from there. They let the opposition frame the argument.
Republicans in the same scenario, circle the wagons, deny it was ever said (even if it's on tape!), or insist it was taken out of context. Even in the face of evidence, they will remain defiant, as evidenced by Rush who is now saying that he is owed the apology.
It speaks volumes to why I think the Republicans should be out of power, and why I believe that the Democrats may be too namby-pamby to take that power back.