Conservatives are apoplectic about some of the vile, hate-filled comments generated online in response to the hospitalization of Rush Limbaugh. And rightly so, as a quick glance at Twitter reveals. But before the right-wing faithful rush to condemn "liberal hate," they would do well to look in the mirror first. After all, theirs is a movement that in recent months prayed for the deaths of President Obama and two Democratic Senators.
On this point, Rush Limbaugh himself can speak from personal experience. Before he admitted his Oxycontin addiction, Limbaugh reacted to the death of Jerry Garcia by calling the musician a "dirtbag" and "just another dead doper." This March, Limbaugh happily predicted the ailing Ted Kennedy would be dead before the health care reform he championed ever became law:
"Before it's all over, it'll be called the Ted Kennedy memorial health care bill."
After Kennedy's death, Limbaugh gloated over his prescience, "I predicted it, and I caught all kinds of grief for it out there."
But Ted Kennedy wasn't the only target of right-wing death wishes this year. Just days after several Republican Senators joined the usual suspects among the religious right in a "prayercast" to plead to the Almighty for the defeat of health care, Oklahoma's Tom Coburn on the eve of the Senate health care vote declared:
"What the American people ought to pray is that somebody can't make the vote tonight."
In response, Limbaugh's online allies at places like Free Republic assumed Coburn was referring to the 92 year old West Virginia Democrat Robert Byrd and dutifully followed the call.
Then there are the right-wing threats and conservative pleas which in ways subtle and not seek the death of the President of the United States.
Just one episode should suffice to tell the tale. With the buttons, bumper stickers and teddy bears displaying "Pray for Obama: Psalm 109:8," Obama haters were turning to the Bible to "let his days be few; and let another take his office" and "let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow."
And so it goes. Before decrying some of the celebratory and disgusting remarks making the rounds about Rush Limbaugh, the conservative commentariat would do well to turn to another part of the Bible: "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone."
In the meantime, in the words of MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Wednesday, "All best wishes to Mr. Limbaugh tonight, for a full and speedy recovery."
(This piece also appears at Perrspectives.)