I started listening to you way back in the early years of the first Clinton administration. I couldn't stand Bill and Hil or any of their associates, and hearing you and the other conservative talk-radio jocks light into them made their eight years in the White House a little more bearable for me. I even bought your books for my elderly mom, who was a big fan of yours and listened to you regularly until my elderly dad became more dependent on her and made it difficult for her to do so. While I didn't agree with you on everything back then, we were generally on the same page and when we weren't I wasn't particularly bothered. That hasn't been the case since George W. Bush took office, and particularly since 9-11 and his administration's atrocious response to that atrocity.
Since the Iraq War began I find myself listening to you less and yelling back at you on the radio on those rare occasions when I do listen. Things like: "You bombastic idiot! How I'd like to go one-on-one with you on that?" I know, you think that I'm out of my gourd if I think I can keep up with you one-on-one in a debate on anything, but I suspect that I can. You see, Rush, I'm not as impressed by your intellect as you seem to be, and I'm not convinced that you're a very good debater because you don't really allow any debates on your show. And that's what really bugs me — you don't allow anyone to challenge you. Of the very few guests you have, none of them disagree with you, and you talk over and interrupt the few callers who dare to question your pontifications. That's why I've never bothered to try to get through to argue with you over the phone. You regularly interrupt callers (even those who agree with you) who are already aware that they have a limited amount of time to make a complex point, and in doing so you make it even more difficult for them by disrupting their train of thought. And then again, I don't call because I've got better things to do than hang on the phone for ages until the Your Highness allows me the privilege of exchanging a few words with you before you cut me off. So I'm taking out my frustrations through this open letter to you. You probably won't even hear about it, but if you do you'll surely just dismiss it as the work of some liberal idiot. But maybe, just maybe, one of your worshippers will read what I have to say, and maybe, just maybe, come to question some of your preachments.
One of my biggest gripes has to do with the way you dismiss those who question American involvement in Iraq as liberals who hate Bush and want the war to go badly so that Republicans are discredited and Democrats can regain the White House in 2008. I voted for Bush twice, or more accurately, I voted against Al Gore and John Kerry, and I think that the war is a huge, even criminal, blunder and that Bush and his merry band of neoconservatives are a total disaster. Of course, in your great wisdom, you surely think that I'm the print equivalent of one of those "seminar callers" you claim are always trying to smuggle their liberal views on your show under the guise of conservativism. Okay, let's check out my credentials apart from the war.
I'm a retired sociology professor. I know you think that's just about the worst kind of professor there is. And I'm not now nor have I ever been religious — I come from a nonreligious family, third generation. I can hear you screaming. "Seminar writer! Seminar writer!" But wait! I'm a strict constructionist/original intenter concerning the Constitution and a no-compromise supporter of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms who has written many critiques of the gun-prohibitionist movement (you can check me out on the Internet) and has belonged to the National Rifle Association since 1955. In my hawkish younger days, I'm proud to say, I was an Air Force officer. I've already stated my views concerning the Clintons, and I feel the same way about such Democrat senators as Kennedy, Kerry, Durban, Schumer, Boxer, and Feinstein. In my 72 years I've never voted for a Democrat for president, the U. S. Senate, or governor, and I've only voted once or twice for a Democrat for the U. S. House of Representatives, but I'm an anti-liberal, not a Republican. I'm for securing our borders and clamping down on illegal immigration, eliminating the Department of Education and other such boondoggles by way of reducing the size of the federal government and getting it out of our everyday lives, balancing the budget, eliminating the national debt, and returning to the gold standard. I agree with you that liberal bias permeates the mainstream media and that our popular culture is decadent. I don't support officially sanctioning gay marriage (though I couldn't care less what's done unofficially), officially promoting or forcing diversity, preaching in classrooms, or political correctness in any form. You can believe what you wish, but I'm no seminar writer, so I'll get back to my first gripe — your dismissal of opponents as wascally liberals, whether they are or not, so that you don't have to respond to their challenges.
When you do this, Rush, you're either being less than honest with your listeners, or showing that you aren't as informed as you want them to believe you are. I suspect the former. I can't believe that you don't know that Pat Buchanan and those who write for his The American Conservative magazine and the Rockford Institutes Chronicles magazine have been extremely critical of the Bush Administration and the policies that have got us involved in Iraq. Then there are syndicated columnists Paul Craig Roberts, once President Reagan's assistant secretary of Treasury, who has called for Bush's impeachment (right on!), and George Will, who has ridiculed the administration's simpleminded Wilsonian efforts to transform Iraq into a Western-style democracy. Robert Novak is hardly a Bush or war fan. The late outspoken and much decorated Col. David Hackworth (USA retired), whose blog provided a voice for the common soldier, considered the war to be a blunder and unrelated to combating terrorism. Columnists Charley Reese and Joe Sobran, Pentagon whistle blower, Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski (USAF retired), former Republican strategist Kevin Phillips, and author James Bovard have been scathing in their criticisms of Bush in general and the war in particular. Ron Paul and John Hostettler, Republican congressmen from Texas and my part of Indiana, respectively, were among the six members of the House who voted against going to war with Iraq, and the former has hardly been shy about putting his criticism of the war in writing. Do you claim that all of these folks are closet liberals, Rush? Give me a break! You know better! I hear that you even finally acknowledged conservative opposition to the neocon-generated war in Iraq after Bill Buckley threw in the towel on that bloody and idiotic venture. Since I'm no longer a regular listener of yours, I missed your rationalization of Bill's defection. But now and again I do listen to you, and I haven't noticed any new reluctance on your part to denounce all critics of the war as liberal Bush- and/or America-haters.
Then, Rush, there's the matter of your own vaunted conservatism that I'd like to ask you about. You're big on getting at the original intent of the Constitution, strict construction and all that. We're on the same page there — I'm no judicial activist. And you're big on the Founders. Me too, though I'm not as inclined to deify them as you seem to be. But Rush, it seems to me that you're rather selective when you refer to the paper trail the Founders left us. Consider George Washington's farewell address — I think I've heard you mention it. He had a lot to say about how we should relate to other nations, but this sentence about sums it all up: "The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible." The italics are mine. Then there was Thomas Jefferson: "Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none." And John Quincy Adams: "America . . . goes not abroad seeking monsters to destroy." These Founders weren't isolationists — they were all for trade with other nations. But they encouraged only such political alliances with them as might benefit us at any given time, and they didn't want us messing with the internal affairs of other nations. Rush, what do you think that the Founders would think about American troops being stationed in over 130 other countries? I can't even name 130 countries. And what do you think they'd have to say about our government's regime-changing/puppet-government-establishing endeavors over much of the past century? And what do you think that they would have to say about the country they founded having a military large enough to be stationed all over the world and to carry out this meddling in the affairs of other nations?
The Founders weren't nearly as fond of large professional militaries as you are, Rush. Consider Washington's warning that we should "avoid the necessity of those overgrown military establishments which, under any form of government, are inauspicious of liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty." Elbridge Gerry considered a standing army to be "the bane of liberty," and newspapers of the 1780s referred to the standing army as "that great support of tyrants" and as a "manifest danger to public liberty." I'm sure that, historical authority that you would have your listeners believe you to be, you've read The Federalist Papers. Do you recall anything in those pages that would lead you to think that the Founders wouldn't be appalled by the huge professional military establishment we now have? Do you consider the Founders' fears concerning the potential use of a large professional (mercenary) military to establish a tyrannical regime in this country to be outdated? If so, what do you know about the workings of governments that they didn't know that would lead you to believe that we can now ignore their concerns? And then there's that business about the "military-industrial complex" that President Eisenhower warned us about more recently.
Rush, I'd like to take this opportunity to point out that you have a great deal in common with Osama bin Laden. You both have causes that you don't question, and for which you're willing to see other people die. To Osama, his version of Islam is the one true faith, and the United States in many ways, from support for Israel to military incursions into the Muslim world, etc., poses a mortal threat to all he and his hold sacred. To you, your version of the American Way incorporates universal values, and American support for Israel and military incursions around the world are all in the cause of "liberation" — doing the benighted a huge favor by pushing them toward democracy (that our own Founders rejected in favor of a republic) and the "freedom" and stability that you assume go with it. (Oops! Where'd Hamas come from?) Osama was willing to spend the lives of nineteen willing young men to run airliners into selected buildings in the United States in the service of his cause. You support a war to "liberate" Iraq that has taken the lives of more than 2,000 American troops (some more willing than others) and seriously injured many thousands of others. Osama's nineteen young men killed some 3,000 innocent Americans — a horrible deed to be sure — in the cause of fundamentalist Islam. American ground troops and aircraft have killed tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis who happened to get in the way of the Bush administration's "liberation" efforts. I wonder what the relatives and friends of this "collateral damage" think about their "liberation."
But while you and Osama have things in common, you also have your differences. Osama is, or at least, was, a very wealthy man who could have lived out his life in luxury, but instead chose to strike out at the most powerful country in the world and put his own life at risk for his cause while living on the run, making it difficult to get the medical care he needs for his kidney condition. Dangerous fanatic? Of course! Chicken hawk? Nope! You're a very wealthy man who private-jets around from one palatial residence to another, or from one prestigious golf tournament to another, risking nothing for your cause while acting as a fawning cheerleader for the troops you cavalierly note volunteered to put themselves in harm's way. I suspect that the fawning is motivated by the chicken-hawk guilt you feel for not having seen fit to risk your own precious hide in the military helping to make over the rest of the world by force in accordance with the harebrained utopian agenda you share with the neocons. Oh! By the way, how are your listeners to know that the military folks who call your show claiming that things are really going well in Iraq aren't administration-prompted seminar callers?
And a final gripe. You regularly state that those of us who don't support the war with Iraq are America haters. How disingenuous! Since when does criticizing your government indicate that you hate your country? I love my country as much as you do, you pompous ass. But I think that it's now being run by a bunch of neoconservative idiots as bad as the liberal idiots who ran it during the Clinton years. When you criticized Clinton and his foreign policy, did you hate America? Personally, I think that both the neocons (with much assistance from you and your talk-radio ilk) and the liberals (with much assistance from the mainstream news and entertainment media and academia) are undermining our Constitution and heading us toward totalitarianism. Liberals have abridged the First Amendment's protection of freedom of speech through campaign finance reform, done their best to define the Second Amendment's protection of the right to keep and bear arms out of existence, and engaged in judicial activism to circumvent the Constitution, among other statist shenanigans. You and your neocon heroes are willing to allow the president to override the Bill of Rights in the name of national security. And you regularly criticize folks for being concerned about the rights of terrorists. I'm not concerned about the rights of terrorists; I'm concerned about the rights of innocents accused of being terrorists. If you didn't have that half of your brain tied behind your back, as you like to brag, Rush, you might be able to recognize the distinction.
A former regular listener, William R. Tonso
March 24, 2006