Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

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Thursday, February 24, 2005
Rush's GOP world tour
Let's start with the premise that in general, I have no problem with Rush Limbaugh per se. He's an entertainer who has a popular show on the radio, (okay, and an overly chubby, hypocritcal drug addict....) and this is America, so that's fine. What I have a problem with is the U.S. government climbing into bed with him, i.e., airing his one-sided, right-wing, GOP-promoting program on Armed Forces Radio, or dispatching his fatness to Afghanistan as some sort of goodwill ambassador. Limbaugh just doesn't belong on an overseas trip that is in any way connected to the government.

Even worse: On his official trip to the poppy capital of the world, Rush used his time with American troops to bash George W. Bush's political opposition. (Armstrong must be jealous ... Rush gets an overseas trip, and all he got was cash.) Next we'll find out Rush isn't his real name and that he's pimping himself out via an online escort service ...

Media Matters is on the story, though they haven't come to a conclusion as to who paid for El Rushbo's (and right wing oppo-wife Mary Matalin's) trip. (WaPo's Al Kamen dropped the nugget last week that Limbaugh was originally to be accompanied by his soon-to-be fourth wife -- yeck -- CNN anchor Daryn Kagan, before she dropped out). Could be Rush is paying for his own ticket. But by his own admission, he is staying at the headquarters of the very governmental agency USAID, and was ushered into a meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. And NewsMax reported this bit of info last week, indicating Rush sought the trip by contacting his buddies at the Pentagon:

America's top talk radio host Rush Limbaugh is planning to travel to Afghanistan next week to visit the troops and highlight the U.S. success in bringing democracy to Osama bin Laden's former headquarters.

Limbaugh confirmed the visit to NewsMax Friday morning, saying that seeing the troops are his "main reason for going." The top conservative talker has scheduled three meetings with U.S. forces, with locations to be announced later for security reasons.

Limbaugh said he had been asking the Defense and State Departments to arrange a troop visit for two years. He will also be meeting with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai. White House advisor Mary Matalin, a former talk radio host herself and friend of Limbaugh's, will also be on the trip, according to Reuters.

The trip is reportedly being arranged through the U.S. Agency for International Development.

So what was Rush up to in Karzai country? This from the Limbaugh show transcript:

SYCOPHANTIC GUEST HOST: Rush Limbaugh in Afghanistan. Rush, I gotta tell you, I was going to tell you that it was important to convey, as you did, our just gratitude beyond the describing of it for the sacrifice made by our young men and women who are over there doing that. Can you describe the kind of quarters you have? I mean, given that it is a country with not a lot of infrastructure, what have they offered you?

RUSH: Well, the place I am is part of the US AID, Agency for International Development compound, which is down the street from not only the Karzai residence, but from the US embassy, and it is all Americanized. Generators run and it's all -- I don't need any foreign power converters. I only have one English-language television station here, and that's the BBC. It's as boring as it can be. I've had enough of that and CNN International while I was over in Dubai, so (raspberry) to that. But I don't need any television here. I've got Internet. I can't get my personal e-mail to work on their LAN connection here, but we'll get that worked out before I leave.

It's just -- I'll tell you, you know, you talked about the opportunity to convey to the troops. It is. I can talk about them on the radio program as you do and we salute them and so forth, but I just felt so small compared to these people standing before them, and they're just as eager. They're excited to see people from back home. And, by the way, folks, if you're wondering I didn't go politically correct on them. I told them exactly who's saying what about them in an opposition fashion. I told them what I think is the sort of phony baloney, plastic banana, good-time rock 'n' roller of some members of American left saying they support the troops but they don't support their mission -- and I haven't run into anybody who has snickered.

A bit later:
GUEST HOST: We are on the phone with the Doctor of Democracy himself, America's anchorman in Afghanistan, live with us. Rush, getting back to your schedule. If you could give us some idea about it: A meeting with Karzai, the government, the ordinary Afghanis, again, meeting with troops. How much of the country are you going to be able to see?

RUSH: Well, all of it. I mean, it's an incredible itinerary. ... I just now got to where it is I'm staying. From the moment we got off of the airplane it was over to the US Agency for International Development to meet with them because they're working with the military, sort of a unique alliance. It's all part of the president's agenda to make sure that after routing the Taliban, that the country of Afghanistan does not descend back into what it was, and so his recipe of human freedom is the foundation for this, and the military is working with the USAID people to actually develop this country, to develop the infrastructure. They're building roads over here to improve commerce -- and, you know, ideas travel on roads, too. The Taliban hated road construction because ideas move on roads. So we stopped there. That was about an hour. From there, went over for a scheduled meeting with the president, Hamid Karzai, and by the time we got there -- and the schedule was up in the air. He had requested we move it to Friday, which was fine with me because I'd rather talk to him after having seen a lot of the country than not having seen it all. From there went back to the embassy, met the ambassador, got a briefing from him. Everybody wants to tell me what they're doing, what their area is responsible for and how well they're doing and what their challenges are. And then from there it was back over here to what they call the Kabul Compound, which is part of the embassy, but it's separated.

And one more bite:
GUEST HOST: Now, Rush, in those question-and-answer sessions with the troops that were describing there, what kind of questions are you getting from them?

RUSH: It's amazing. They're asking, "Are you gonna run for office? What do you think...?" I only had a couple policy questions about things going on in Afghanistan. One of them was, "Do you think that the US system should be what they should adopt or do you think we should allow them to adopt their own system?" and I said, "A great question, and you know, I actually wouldn't impose anything on them. Just give them their freedom. I trust freedom. I trust free people. Let free people make up their own minds about things and you can trust the results," and I said, "There are a lot of people in America who don't trust free people to do the right thing. I won't mention a political party; you all know it, and I won't mention the ideology; you all know it.

Media Matters, your ball ...
posted by JReid @ 5:44 PM  
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