Kathryn Lopez

Is the truth necessary only when it suits your political agenda?

No. Anyone who has ever attended kindergarten knows that truth -- and being honest -- are required in all aspects of life, especially in political forums.

But Senate Democrats, in condemning talk-radio king Rush Limbaugh, have proven yet again that they should have flunked out of preschool.

Limbaugh had an on-air conversation with a caller about "phony soldiers" -- people who pretend to be U.S. soldiers either to get at money allocated for vets or simply to get attention in order to amplify their views; in other words, actual frauds.

People who don't actually listen to Limbaugh (I do -- where else does one go for sanity in New York City?), like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and former NATO commander Wesley Clark, decided that Limbaugh was accusing soldiers who don't agree with him of being phony soldiers. But Limbaugh, who has nothing but the utmost respect for those who wear the uniform, and a solid record of honoring them, was doing nothing of the sort. Suggestions that he would do such a thing are based on pure ignorance and malice or jealousy.

Days after Limbaugh's broadcast, I assumed that no reasonable person could believe this charge against him. But the case against Limbaugh and his "phony soldiers" comment was already the talk of television and the U.S. Senate. Reid called him "unpatriotic," and some 40 senators -- including presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama -- apparently signed a letter demanding that Clear Channel drop Limbaugh. Clear Channel wasn't interested, whether out of principle or profit. It was right to dismiss the Senate Dems. Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa took it an unnecessarily tasteless step further: "What's most despicable is that Rush Limbaugh says these provocative things to make more money. So he castigates our soldiers. This makes more news. It becomes in the news. More people tune in. He makes more money. Well, I don't know. Maybe he was just high on his drugs again. I don't know whether he was or not. If so, he ought to let us know, but that shouldn't be an excuse."

What a disgrace.

Instead of condemning Harkin's outrage, his colleague, Democratic Sen. Ken Salazar of Colorado, expressed his desire for the Senate to censure Limbaugh.

That, despite the fact that Salazar's own brother, U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., introduced legislation, which passed the House and Senate unanimously last year, to prosecute people claiming medals they had not earned on the battlefield (Stolen Valor Act). Rep. Salazar is currently working on a database of those who have been awarded honors.

But the Senate doesn't get outraged by its own easily. Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois wasn't censured in June 2006 for comparing American troops to genocidal tyrants. And the Senate didn't censure Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy when, in May 2004, he used the occasion of those awful photos from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq to say, "Shamefully, we now learn that Saddam's torture chambers reopened under new management." Those were inappropriate, awful pictures that debased human dignity, but they weren't the torture chambers of Saddam Hussein, and Kennedy knew it. But the Senate doesn't get outraged at Kennedy. There is only Senate outrage when it's politically convenient -- when it means aiding a push to get Limbaugh kicked off Armed Forces Radio, when it means distorting the truth about someone whose popularity they know is a threat to their political agenda.


Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.