Rush Limbaugh's chief excuse for the inexcusable -- publicly hoping for the failure of President Obama's economic-recovery efforts -- is that those mean, nasty Democrats did it to Bush:
Limbaugh: Did the Democrats want the war in Iraq to fail?
[Crowd shouts:] Yeah!
Limbaugh: Well, they certainly did. And they not only wanted the war in Iraq to fail, they proclaimed it a failure! There's Dingy Harry Reid, waving a white flag, 'This war is lost. This war -- ' They called General Petraeus a liar before he even testified! [Boos.] Mrs. Clinton -- [Loud boos] ... Said she had to suspend, willingly suspend disbelief for whenever one had to listen to Petraeus. We were in the process of winning the war and the last thing they wanted was to win. They hoped George Bush failed.
Later, he amplified a bit more:
Ladies and gentlemen, the Democrat Party has actively not just sought the failure of Republican presidents and policies and now wars, for the first time. The Democrat Party doesn't stop at failure. Talk to Judge Robert Bork, talk to Justice Clarence Thomas, about how they try to destroy lives, reputations, and character. And I'm supposed to say, I don't want the president to fail?
And it's been picked up by every other right-winger out there -- including Michael Steele, in the same back-and-forth that produced his now-infamous rip on Limbaugh, which was followed in short order by Steele's abject butt-kissing:
Steele: How is that any different than what was said about George Bush during his presidency?
Sean Hannity trotted it out last night on his show too:
Hannity: He's not a senator, he's not a congressman. Senators, congressmen, repeatedly called George Bush every name in the book. And I didn't hear anyone complaining. They didn't want George Bush to succeed in Iraq. They said the surge would fail, the war was lost. They called our troops terrorists.
On all of which we call: bullshit.
I'd like to challenge Hannity, or Steele, or Limbaugh, to search the public record to find any leading Democrat -- congressman, senator, talking head, or otherwise -- who ever said: "I hope George Bush fails in Iraq."
Particularly not in the months leading up to, or after, the invasion. Indeed, the congressional authorization of the invasion passed the House 297-133-3 (82 Democrats voted yes) and the Senate 77-23 (29 Democrats voted yes). Moreover, it wasn't until many months had passed and it became clear the Bush Administration had no exit strategy in Iraq -- and indeed intended an indefinite occupation -- that Democrats began openly criticizing Bush's war policies. But even then, there were no open expressions of a desire to see the U.S. "fail" in Iraq -- only the open recognition that we were headed for failure, which is quite a different creature.
There was even greater unanimity in the days after the 9/11 attacks, which was the last time the nation faced a grave crisis and came together accordingly. The Authorization to Use Military Force Against Terrorists passed the Congress with the full backing of Democrats as well as Republicans. It passed the House 420-1-10, and the Senate 98-0-2.
The nation now faces another serious crisis in the economy, one at least as grave as the one we faced after 9/11: Our entire way of life is at risk if we do not get the economy moving again. Republicans seem to be positively rejoicing in the ongoing decline on Wall Street -- one for whom they share the lion's share of the blame -- because they think it proves them right. What they seem not to be considering is the effect their constant badmouthing of the Obama recovery program might be having on the Wall Street psychology as well.
It would be one thing if Republicans were simply warning that Obama's stimulus plans were doomed to failure. We'd understand that. It certainly would mirror how we felt about the Iraq war: we believed it was a doomed enterprise that would not only cost far more in human lives than anything that might possibly be gained from it, but would actually worsen the conditions for terrorism it purportedly meant to combat. We recognized that Bush's rosy scenarios might come to pass, but we doubted it deeply -- and said so, and rightly.
But it's another thing altogether to openly hope for failure -- in the case of the Iraq war, because it meant American soldiers would die needlessly, an outcome no one who loves America would want; and in the case of the economy, because it means that America is doomed to slide into a Depression. It will mean that millions of Americans will lose their jobs, millions will slide into poverty, and misery will be rampant.
Wishing for that outcome means that ideas are more important than people -- which is the mark of the blinkered ideologue. It is monstrous, it is perverse, and it is un-American. And we won't apologize for saying that, either, Rush.
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