I’ve run out of adjectives to characterize this kind of behavior, so I am just going to blog it and let it speak for itself.
Limbaugh’s first remarks about the earthquake in Haiti came after Pres. Obama went on television to convey that the hearts of Americans went out to Haitians in their suffering, and that the United States would be actively and immediately involved in relief efforts. Limbaugh attacked Obama for responding to the earthquake (which was 7.0 on the Richter scale and basically has destroyed almost every structure in Port-au-Prince and killed tens of thousands of Haitians) faster than he responded publicly to the attempted airline bombing on Christmas Day, and then predicted that Obama would use the disaster for political purposes, to show the “light-skinned and dark-skinned black community” how compassionate and humanitarian he is.
Then he told his listeners (apparently in the same show), “We’ve already donated to Haiti; it’s called income tax.” And, for good measure, he tried to discourage callers from donating to private aid organizations that are trying to get food, water, medical care and other pressing necessities to Haitians affected by the earthquake. Today, he claimed that his intentions had been misunderstood, and responded abusively to a woman who called in to criticize his earlier statements (emphasis is in original):
Today, a woman named “April” from Paducah, KY called into Limbaugh’s show and asked where he got the “cojones” to make such statements. Limbaugh insisted that he never meant to discourage private donations to Haiti, but stood by his remarks that Obama will try to exploit the disaster for political gain:
RUSH: No, I’m not evading it at all. If I said it I meant to say it, and I do believe that everything is political to this president. Everything this president sees is a political opportunity, including Haiti, and he will use it to burnish his credentials with minorities in this country and around the world, and to accuse Republicans of having no compassion. […]
CALLER: [A]re you implying that the Huffington Post as the one and only resource that I [read]? I even watch Fox News once in a while.
RUSH: No, no, no, no, no. I’m not implying that. … What I’m illustrating here is that you’re a blockhead. What I’m illustrating here is that you’re a closed-minded bigot who is ill-informed. … And if you had listened to this program for a modicum of time you would know it. But instead you’re a blockhead. You’re mind is totally closed. You have tampons in your ears. Nothing is getting through other than the biased crap that you read.
The only support I’ve seen for Limbaugh on the right over this one is from Jim Geraghty at National Review Online. Geraghty seems to think that the politicking is coming from those who are condemning what Limbaugh said, rather than from Limbaugh himself, and he declares that Limbaugh has his facts right. The title of Geraghty’s post is “Unsurprisingly, Rush Is Right“:
You knew it was just a matter of time before partisan angles emerged about the disaster in Haiti. The Huffington Post takes umbrage at Rush Limbaugh: “Limbaugh also seems to feel we’ve done enough already for Haiti: ‘We’ve already donated to Haiti. It’s called the U.S. income tax.”
Obviously, when people are struggling to crawl out from rubble and with meager medical systems stretched to the breaking point, you’ve got to mobilize. But on the facts, Rush is right.
The tale of U.S. foreign aid to Haiti is maddening, as well-meaning Americans dump more and more money to alleviate suffering, only to see little or no actual improvement in the living conditions on the ground.
The thing is, not only does no one deny this, but all the news coverage that I have seen on Haiti since the earthquake struck, has pointed out this fact repeatedly and discussed it in great detail. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, and despite years and years of foreign aid and both financial and human resources poured into the country from vast numbers of non-governmental humanitarian aid organizations, the majority of Haitians (by far) still live below the poverty line. I personally have heard analyses of this and interviews with all kinds of experts about it numerous times in the last 24 to 48 hours. It’s not a secret and it’s not being ignored. It’s just that, for most people — government agencies, Pres. Obama, ordinary Americans, aid workers, charitable organizations, and even the journalists I’ve seen who are in Haiti right now and appear devastated by what they’ve seen — it’s not the time right now and it’s certainly not the point to be disparaging relief efforts, or the eagerness of Americans as well as people all over the world to help, or the motivations of the POTUS, on the basis that Haiti is dirt poor, always has been, and we’re wasting our money there. At a time like this, you do what has to be done to help other human beings who are going through unimaginable suffering.
On Keith Olbermann tonight, he opened with some reaction shots of survivors. One woman, lying on the ground with the thousands of other injured waiting for help, had her head raised, and this is what I heard her saying, in a broken voice, over and over: “Why? Why? Why? Why?”
A good question for Rush Limbaugh at this moment too, I would think.
And yeah, I know I ended up giving my own thoughts. Can’t help it.