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Rush and the Infamous Reid Letter.

On the genuine value of political theater.

Come, I will hide nothing from you: I don’t listen to Rush Limbaugh.

I don’t listen to talk radio at all, really – although now that I know the trick (use IE instead of Firefox) I’ll be probably catching Erick’s show from time to time – and (just in case it wasn’t screamingly obvious by now) I’m a slightly different flavor of conservative than Rush is. Style differences, ideological differences, temperament differences… however it goes, I don’t really feel the urge to tune in every day. Not that it matters, of course: I don’t think that he’s pining over the fact that I’m not a listener.

All of that being said? The Reid Letter thing that he did to the Senate Democrats was made of concentrated, purified awesome.You remember the Reid Letter thing, right? Caller got on the air, mentioned all those fake/misrepresenting soldiers that the antiwar movement would bring up to try to give their cause any fragment of moral authority…

Oh, by the way: Not In Your Name, you miserable grawlixes. Not then, not now, not ever.

…and Rush agreed with said caller, calling them “phony soldiers.” The meaning of which, from context, would have been obvious to anyone of average intelligence… so of course Harry Reid missed the point, and got 41 other Democratic Senators* (including the last two Democratic candidates for President standing) to write a particularly whining letter to Mark Mays of Clear Channel calling for Rush’s apology. On genuine US Senate letterhead paper, and everything.

So, of course Rush Limbaugh took the letter and auctions it on e-Bay for charity. “Of course,” he says: the reality is that I wouldn’t have thought of that, and probably neither would have you. Certainly not Harry Reid: that letter that he and his colleagues signed ended up going for 2.1 million in the auction, all benefits going to the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation. Then Reid tried to muscle in on the good publicity by pretending that he and his had been willing partners in this, prompting Rush to – here, let me let Rush speak for himself:

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Harry Reid in a speech on the Senate floor at 12 noon today, a little over an hour ago, attempted to horn in on all this and take some credit for it, claiming that he and I had buried the hatchet, or implying that that had been the case, and then kept using the pronoun “WE” in discussing how good this was, the money going to the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation. So the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation, it’s now official, is going to get in excess of $4.2 million because I am matching Betty Casey’s bid on eBay — $4.2 million. I asked Senator Reid to match and all the other senators who can afford to do so. I haven’t heard from them on that.

You probably won’t, either. Reid no doubt recognized the sensation he was feeling at that point as being akin to the ones he gets just about every time that he attempts to oppose Mitch McConnell’s will: the subject was thus dropped. Quickly. And it’s going to be a while before Senate Democrats are going to try to be that unofficially-officially heavy-handed against a media organization again. All in all, this went down pretty much perfectly – and he made it look easy, which isn’t, in and of itself.

As I said: I don’t listen to Rush Limbaugh. But it’s things like this that tell me why so many people do.

Moe Lane

*Is your Democratic Senator up for re-election on that list? I don’t know: but if he or she gets replaced with a Republican then there’s no worries, right? Hint, hint.

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