Paul Waldman writes a good piece about Rush Limbaugh saga. I especially like his connecting Rush' New McCarthyism techniques to the Republican Party New McCarthyism on Iraq:
Think about how much time and effort they expend on convincing Americans that progressives and Democrats are “anti-military,” “hate the troops,” and even “hate America.” So any progressive veteran who criticizes Bush administration policies represents a profound threat to all the arguments they have made. It becomes particularly thorny when nearly the entire current leadership of the conservative movement — not only media figures like Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly, but also political figures including President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Karl Rove, Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, and many others — were of draft age during the Vietnam war but managed to stay out of harm's way.
But Democrats and their allies like Move On do not win this battle by aping this strategy, as Move On wrongly did; this battle is won by Democrats standing up against these McCarthyite tactics and, more importantly, standing up to Bush on Iraq. That means not funding the Iraq debacle after a date certain. More.
In essence, the Republican message on national security is that Democrats are wimps. And Democrats like Carl Levin (D-MI), who write things like this, confirm the GOP message:
I voted against going to war in Iraq; I have consistently challenged the administration's conduct of the war; and I have long fought to change our policy there. But I cannot vote to stop funding the troops while they are in harm's way, conducting dangerous missions such as those recently begun north of Baghdad.
When Republicans portray Democrats as wimps, people like Carl Levin confirm that view with their mealy mouthedness. And pundits like Jon Alter reinforce this view:
It isn't easy to make the case for capitulation and gamesmanship when human lives are at stake, but I'm going to try. That's because many Americans—especially on the left—don't understand why Democrats in Congress had no choice but to proceed the way they have this week on the war in Iraq.
Last May I wrote in response to Alter:
I'm going to concentrate only on the politics of the situation here, let's leave the human lives at stake aside. Ahhhhhh. Just writing that sentence tells us what is wrong with this thinking. The POLITICS won't let us leave that aside. For this is the essential Democratic problem, they are viewed as standing for nothing. For having no principles. As Ruy Texeira and John Halpin put it:
The thesis of this report is straightforward. Progressives need to fight for what they believe in — and put the common good at the center of a new progressive vision — as an essential strategy for political growth and majority building. This is no longer a wishful sentiment by out-of-power activists, but a political and electoral imperative for all concerned progressives. . . . [T]he underlying problem driving progressives' on-going woes nationally [is] a majority of Americans do not believe progressives or Democrats stand for anything.
Alter's thinking is a reflection of this.
This is why pushing back on Limbaugh is important, but not as important as not funding the Iraq Debacle.