David Brock's Media Matters group is going on the offensive about last week's Rush Limbaugh quotes that the military guards at Abu Ghraib heaping abuse upon Iraqi prisoners were simply "having a good time." They're running a TV ad about it:
VOICEOVER: 'SECRETARY RUMSFELD CALLED THE TORTURE OF IRAQIS SADISTIC...CRUEL...'
RUMSFELD: 'FUNDAMENTALLY UN-AMERICAN.'
VOICEOVER: 'BUT HERE'S WHAT RUSH LIMBAUGH SAID:'
LIMBAUGH: 'THIS IS NO DIFFERENT THAN WHAT HAPPENS AT THE SKULL & BONES INITIATION...I'M TALKING ABOUT PEOPLE HAVING A GOOD TIME. THESE PEOPLE -- YOU EVER HEARD OF EMOTIONAL RELEASE? YOU EVER HEARD OF NEEDING TO BLOW SOME STEAM OFF?'
VOICEOVER: 'THIS IS THE MOST LISTENED-TO POLITICAL COMMENTATOR IN AMERICA?'
That's pretty damn awesome. Media Matters has truly become a thorn in Rush's side. He's spent quite a lot of airtime talking about it:
LIMBAUGH: And there's this new website that the Libs have set up out there, and one of the things they have is a couple of guys that transcribe this program, and they select certain out -- outtakes or excerpts, and they put them on the Website, and it's become a clearinghouse for Lib propaganda. So the Lib media goes there, sees what's there, and then repackages it as news.
I'm not sure how you take "they were having a good time" out of context. This goes on and on, by the way, it reads like 10 minutes of airtime. I'm going to be beat over the head for this, but one of the things Rushie boy says kind of rings true in a demented way:
LIMBAUGH: You know, there are all kinds of people in this country, some of them Democrats, elected Democrats, who say, "We need to see all these pictures from this prison, from the Abu Ghraib prison. Need to see them. We need to see every sordid detail, because we have a right to know, the American people need to know what's being done in their name, we want to see it. All the sodomy, we want to see those light sticks, have you heard about this?" What are those light sticks? I can't think of the name of them. Some prisoners were apparently sodomized with these light sticks. Now, remember when a cigar was used in the oval office? "Hey, it's just sex. It's not going to get in the way of the way anybody leads or does their job. There's nothing here." Now all of a sudden, we've got to see all of these pictures.
OK, I'm not about to compare prisoner abuse favorably to consensual sexual activity. However, I do believe that the reason this story is still hanging around in the media is because there's a sexual angle. Literally dozens of scandals have come and gone through the last few years of the Bush administration: Enron, WMD, Valerie Plame, dishonest accounting with the Medicare bill, to name a few. But Valerie Plame wasn't outed as a high-class hooker, or a cross-dresser, she was outed as a CIA operative. That stays in the news for a day and a half. But at Abu Ghraib, we have naked men, and women holding dog collars around their necks, and the like. This would be a horrible story if it was just beatings, but the nakedness does tend to keep it in the news cycle. That's more a critique of the media attention span than public outrage over Abu Ghraib. If there weren't any pictures, but acknowledged abuse, it'd be a two-day story, and we all know it. Such is the prurient interest of this deeply repressed, almost deviant society in which we live. I'd add to that as further proof the shocking number of Google hits for the full Nick Berg beheading video, as this Daily Kos story makes clear. The other multitudes of scandals Bush has caused are no less damaging to our democracy and our status in the world. But you see, this one has pictures. With naked bits all blurred out and stuff.