Rush Limbaugh on the Killing of Osama bin Laden

May 4th, 2011

By Tom Carter

President Barack Obama and Rush LimbaughI listen to Rush Limbaugh now and then, just as I sample the likes of Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow.  It’s interesting to hear what they have to say, given that they and talkers like them reflect — or guide — political thinking on the left and right.  For that reason, I tuned in to Rush on May 2 to hear what he had to say about the successful operation to capture or kill (take your pick) Osama bin Laden.

Limbaugh’s reaction was predictable, but it was snide and unjustified even by his own standards.  He opened the show with a long diatribe against President Obama, mixed in with praise for the military and pride in the fact that we had finally found and killed bin Laden.

Rush charged that Obama was overly self-referential in his announcement of the success of the operation; he noted numerous times that the President used the words “I,” “me,” and “my” over and over during the announcement.  He also pounded on the idea that most of the credit was due to President Bush and what he had done in the War on Terror, and he excoriated Obama for not giving credit to Bush.

I won’t provide a link to the transcript at Limbaugh’s site because you have to be a paying member to get it.  Here’s a sampling of what Rush said from one media source; there are many others:

“Ladies and gentlemen, we need to open the program today by congratulating President Obama,” Limbaugh said Monday afternoon at the start of his show. “President Obama has done something extremely effective, and when he does, this needs to be pointed out.”

While military experts wanted to bomb the Pakistani mansion where bin Laden was hiding, Limbaugh said, Obama may have “single-handedly [come] up with the technique” of attacking the target at the ground level, heaping more and more praise on Obama as he went for continuing the Bush-era policies of targeting the terrorist leader and causing destruction.

Ramping up his mockery, Limbaugh said, “President Obama, perhaps the only qualified member in the room to deal with this, insisted on the Special Forces,” Limbaugh said in a flat tone. “No one else thought of that…. Not a single intelligence adviser, not a single national security adviser, not a single military adviser came up with the idea of using SEAL Team 6 or any Special Forces.”

Limbaugh spent the next five minutes laying on more and more about Obama’s being “single-handedly” responsible for the military and intelligence strategy that was executed over the weekend.  …

“I, me, my – three of the most used words in President Obama’s media appearance last night. Not a single intelligence advisor, not a single national advisor, military advisor came up with the idea,” he said.

He continued for a long time in that vein, and the sarcasm was deep and obvious, at least to anyone who has spent much time listening to him.  However, some naive media types were fooled, and even before the show was over they were reporting on the miracle of Limbaugh praising Obama.  Rush noted this media reaction during the show, laughing openly at their failure to understand what he was saying.

There was one particularly disturbing thing.  A number of times Rush confused “Osama” with “Obama” and “Obama” with “Osama.”  That’s understandable, given the fact that they’re so similar, and he noted that he was going to have be careful not to confuse the names.  But then he kept doing it, and in some cases it seemed pretty clear that it wasn’t by accident.  There’s no forgiving or accepting this cheap behavior; no one is a more adept live radio talker than Limbaugh, and he could have avoided the problem.  If no other way, he could have used “bin Laden” instead of “Osama” or “the President” instead of “Obama.”

Finally, consider this:  If the operation had been a failure, conservatives like Limbaugh would have taken an entirely different approach.  There would have been no reference to the credit deserved by President Bush and his administration.  Not only would President Obama not have been given even grudging credit for making a gutsy decision — which it certainly was — he would have been reviled even more as an incompetent and a fool.  The fact is, in an operation like this there’s always a high chance of disaster which becomes very public and damages both the U.S. and the president personally.

The success of the operation doesn’t guarantee the President’s re-election; it will probably be little more than a minor factor.  But failure would most certainly have doomed him; just ask Jimmy Carter about Desert One.  Obama knew that, and he went ahead anyway.  Anyone who thinks he’s more interested in his own political future than the good of the country should remember that.

Here’s video of part of Rush Limbaugh’s commentary on the operation and the President’s role in it, followed by audio of his reaction to immediate press coverage of his comments, both via Huffington Post:


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2 Responses to “Rush Limbaugh on the Killing of Osama bin Laden”



  1. Lisa |

    Like Rush I also tire of Obama saying “I” all the time. It is amazing how one little word “I” used over and over again says so much.


  2. Tom Carter |

    Lisa, I agree that the President is overly fond of the vertical pronoun and it’s grammatical cousins. But he’s certainly not the only politician with that particular fault. Despite that, and the way the story has become more and more confused, Obama still deserves credit for making a tough decision that could just as easily have destroyed his political career. The likes of Limbaugh would do well to give him credit for at least that much.


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