Cindy Sheehan accomplished a lot this week, but one thing's for sure: She made Rush Limbaugh go 'round the bend. The radio bully's been beside himself day after day, hurling increasingly crazy charges at Sheehan and, we're proud to say, at Salon.
Sheehan's been smeared by most of the right's bully boys, but Limbaugh's been the most vicious. He's regularly compared her to Bill Burkett, the former Texas Air National Guard officer who was the source for the questionable documents that brought down CBS News' Dan Rather, insisting on Monday: "Cindy Sheehan is just Bill Burkett. Her story is nothing more than forged documents. There's nothing about it that's real, including the mainstream media's glomming onto it. It's not real." Then on Thursday he flipped out when critics quoted him and suggested he was saying Sheehan hadn't lost her son Casey in Iraq. Limbaugh brayed about "being quoted out of context," insisting that of course he knew Casey really died in Iraq; he was only making the point that Sheehan's protest was "staged." As Joe Conason points out in his Friday column, what protest isn't staged?
Meanwhile, as usual, Limbaugh's been busy quoting other people out of context. He listed me by name alongside other so-called traitors who are rooting for the defeat of American troops in Iraq, because I said Sheehan's success gave war opponents "reason to be optimistic about the administration's unraveling in Iraq." From that he concluded I was "rooting for the administration's unraveling in Iraq ... that's exactly what they're doing! They are actively urging our defeat!" (Thanks to Media Matters for the transcript.)
Let me break it down for Limbaugh, and for his allies like Washington Times columnist Frank Gaffney, whom I debated Tuesday night on the "News Hour With Jim Lehrer" (you can watch it here): I'm not rooting for the defeat of our troops. When I hail the administration's "unraveling," as the piece made clear, I'm referring to the unraveling of public support for the war, which is tied to the unraveling of the administration's ever-shifting stories about why we went to war -- some call them lies -- and now, the unraveling of its claims about what we're fighting for. No longer are we promised a democratic Iraq -- my piece linked to a Washington Post article in which unnamed administration officials confessed that the best we can expect in Iraq is some sort of Islamic republic. That's quite an unraveling.
Don't let Limbaugh get away with smearing Cindy Sheehan -- or Salon. There's no better time to become a Salon member. Membership gets you access to our pioneer online community, Table Talk. All this week I kept checking the Cindy Sheehan thread, where developments at Camp Casey unfolded faster than I could find them on the news. Membership also gets you access to events with Salon editors and writers. (Look for an expanded fall roster of parties coming soon.) And you'll be the first to preview our impending redesign -- and give us feedback!
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