Rush’s words are torture, but not for the White House

Topics: War Room,

Though most people expressed unadulterated disgust when the Iraq torture story first broke, a few right-wingers began to equivocate in the last week. Some may be expressing their sincere personal beliefs, while others seem more determined to deflect some of the damage that the explosive scandal is currently visiting upon the Bush administration.

Radio host Rush Limbaugh remains in a category of his own. After making a series of outrageous comments on the issue earlier this week, he was at it again on Thursday, calling the abuses by U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison “pretty thoughtful” and “a brilliant maneuver.”

Maybe his ratings have dropped. Maybe he’s back on the prescription pain killers. There’s no reasonable explanation for his astonishing words:

“All right, so we’re at war with these people. And they’re in a prison where they’re being softened up for interrogation. And we hear that the most humiliating thing you can do is make one Arab male disrobe in front of another. Sounds to me like it’s pretty thoughtful. Sounds to me in the context of war this is pretty good intimidation — and especially if you put a woman in front of them and then spread those pictures around the Arab world. And we’re sitting here, ‘Oh my God, they’re gonna hate us! Oh no! What are they gonna think of us?’ I think maybe the other perspective needs to be at least considered. Maybe they’re gonna think we are serious. Maybe they’re gonna think we mean it this time. Maybe they’re gonna think we’re not gonna kowtow to them. Maybe the people who ordered this are pretty smart. Maybe the people who executed this pulled off a brilliant maneuver.”

Limbaugh also seems to think that there was appropriate restraint involved, anyway.

“Nobody got hurt. Nobody got physically injured. But boy there was a lot of humiliation of people who are trying to kill us — in ways they hold dear. Sounds pretty effective to me if you look at us in the right context.”



Apparently Limbaugh isn’t aware of Sy Hersh’s account in the New Yorker of photos from Abu Ghraib showing “the battered face of prisoner No. 153399, and the bloodied body of another prisoner, wrapped in cellophane and packed in ice” and “an empty room, splattered with blood.” And clearly he hasn’t taken the time to familiarize himself with the Army’s harrowing Taguba report, which describes behavior by military police and interrogators that included “breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on detainees, beating detainees with a broom handle and a chair, threatening male detainees with rape, sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick, and using military working dogs to intimidate  and actually bite a detainee.”

Today, as Media Matters.org reports, White House chief spokesman Scott McClellan refused to repudiate Limbaugh’s disturbing comments during a White House press conference — even as President Bush, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and other administration officials have apologized for the appalling acts of torture at Abu Ghraib, and even as administration officials reiterate the importance of condemning them unequivocally to the rest of the world.

“REPORTER: Scott, there’s a segment of society that differs with the White House as it relates to these pictures and the investigation of the U.S. soldiers’ conduct to include Rush Limbaugh who, Tuesday, agreed with the caller, equating the pictures to a college fraternity prank, and said the U.S. soldiers should not be punished because it was an emotional release as they were letting off steam. What’s the White House say about that?

“McCLELLAN: April, I think the White House says what we said yesterday and what the President has said over the last few days.

“REPORTER: No, but Scott — no, seriously. This man is a conservative —

“McCLELLAN: And I actually got asked a question earlier today about that matter.

“REPORTER: But none —

“McCLELLAN: And I addressed it then  The President’s views have been very — have been made very clear.”

The administration may have good reason to stand by and let Limbaugh run his mouth: By measure of his sizable audience alone he’s an influential conservative voice in America — and he also has some close ties to the Bush White House. According to Media Matters.org, in 1992 Limbaugh was an overnight guest in the White House of then-President George H.W. Bush. And on March 22 of this year, the White House tapped Limbaugh to help it run damage control during the political firestorm set off by Richard Clarke’s book and damning testimony before the 9/11 commission on Bush’s national security policy. In an unusual public-relations move, Vice President Dick Cheney went on Limbaugh’s radio show as a guest where he sought to undercut the former counterterrorism director by calling him “out of the loop.” Together with Limbaugh, the essential thrust was to mock Clarke, in hopes of discrediting him.

But Limbaugh’s mocking the horrors perpetrated in Iraq is far worse. If the White House wants the world to believe President Bush’s regrets about the torture scandal, and his pledge to get to the bottom of the abuses, the administration should be willing to denounce Limbaugh’s offensive remarks. They directly contradict the White House message of responsibility and reconciliation put forth during the last 48 hours — and to much of the world still reeling from the shocking images out of Abu Ghraib, they only make America look uglier.

Mark Follman is Salon's deputy news editor. Read his other articles here.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 14
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Pilot"

    One of our first exposures to uncomfortable “Girls” sex comes early, in the pilot episode, when Hannah and Adam “get feisty” (a phrase Hannah hates) on the couch. The pair is about to go at it doggy-style when Adam nearly inserts his penis in “the wrong hole,” and after Hannah corrects him, she awkwardly explains her lack of desire to have anal sex in too many words. “Hey, let’s play the quiet game,” Adam says, thrusting. And so the romance begins.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Elijah, "It's About Time"

    In an act of “betrayal” that messes up each of their relationships with Hannah, Marnie and Elijah open Season 2 with some more couch sex, which is almost unbearable to watch. Elijah, who is trying to explore the “hetero side” of his bisexuality, can’t maintain his erection, and the entire affair ends in very uncomfortable silence.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Charlie, "Vagina Panic"

    Poor Charlie. While he and Marnie have their fair share of uncomfortable sex over the course of their relationship, one of the saddest moments (aside from Marnie breaking up with him during intercourse) is when Marnie encourages him to penetrate her from behind so she doesn’t have to look at him. “This feels so good,” Charlie says. “We have to go slow.” Poor sucker.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and camp friend Matt, "Hannah's Diary"

    We’d be remiss not to mention Shoshanna’s effort to lose her virginity to an old camp friend, who tells her how “weird” it is that he “loves to eat pussy” moments before she admits she’s never “done it” before. At least it paves the way for the uncomfortable sex we later get to watch her have with Ray?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Hard Being Easy"

    On the heels of trying (unsuccessfully) to determine the status of her early relationship with Adam, Hannah walks by her future boyfriend’s bedroom to find him masturbating alone, in one of the strangest scenes of the first season. As Adam jerks off and refuses to let Hannah participate beyond telling him how much she likes watching, we see some serious (and odd) character development ... which ends with Hannah taking a hundred-dollar bill from Adam’s wallet, for cab fare and pizza (as well as her services).

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Booth Jonathan, "Bad Friend"

    Oh, Booth Jonathan -- the little man who “knows how to do things.” After he turns Marnie on enough to make her masturbate in the bathroom at the gallery where she works, Booth finally seals the deal in a mortifying and nearly painful to watch sex scene that tells us pretty much everything we need to know about how much Marnie is willing to fake it.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Tad and Loreen, "The Return"

    The only sex scene in the series not to feature one of the main characters, Hannah’s parents’ showertime anniversary celebration is easily one of the most cringe-worthy moments of the show’s first season. Even Hannah’s mother, Loreen, observes how embarrassing the situation is, which ends with her husband, Tad, slipping out of the shower and falling naked and unconscious on the bathroom floor.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and the pharmacist, "The Return"

    Tad and Loreen aren’t the only ones to get some during Hannah’s first season trip home to Michigan. The show’s protagonist finds herself in bed with a former high school classmate, who doesn’t exactly enjoy it when Hannah puts one of her fingers near his anus. “I’m tight like a baby, right?” Hannah asks at one point. Time to press pause.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Role-Play"

    While it’s not quite a full-on, all-out sex scene, Hannah and Adam’s attempt at role play in Season 3 is certainly an intimate encounter to behold (or not). Hannah dons a blond wig and gets a little too into her role, giving a melodramatic performance that ends with a passerby punching Adam in the face. So there’s that.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and Ray, "Together"

    As Shoshanna and Ray near the end of their relationship, we can see their sexual chemistry getting worse and worse. It’s no more evident than when Ray is penetrating a clothed and visibly horrified Shoshanna from behind, who ends the encounter by asking if her partner will just “get out of me.”

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Frank, "Video Games"

    Hannah, Jessa’s 19-year-old stepbrother, a graveyard and too much chatting. Need we say more about how uncomfortable this sex is to watch?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Desi, "Iowa"

    Who gets her butt motorboated? Is this a real thing? Aside from the questionable logistics and reality of Marnie and Desi’s analingus scene, there’s also the awkward moment when Marnie confuses her partner’s declaration of love for licking her butthole with love for her. Oh, Marnie.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Vagina Panic"

    There is too much in this scene to dissect: fantasies of an 11-year-old girl with a Cabbage Patch lunchbox, excessive references to that little girl as a “slut” and Adam ripping off a condom to ejaculate on Hannah’s chest. No wonder it ends with Hannah saying she almost came.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>