Limbaugh and Buckley attacked Langston Hughes; ignored Bushes' praise of poet Limbaugh called a "communist"

››› ››› ANDREW SEIFTER

On June 30, radio host Rush Limbaugh attacked Senator John Kerry's (D-MA) recent campaign trail use of award-winning Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes's slogan "Let America be America again," making the top headline of his website, "Communism lives in the Democratic Party?" Limbaugh's comments echoed recent statements by FOX News Channel chief political correspondent Carl Cameron, The Wall Street Journal's OpinionJournal.com editor James Taranto, and National Review founder and editor-at-large William F. Buckley Jr.

Limbaugh also linked to a transcript of his remarks from the June 30 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show, during which he stated, "You've got a Democratic presidential nominee quoting from a poem written in the 1930s that is anti-America and pro-communist, Marxist-Leninist, what have you." On his June 29 show, Limbaugh said, "John Kerry either doesn't find anything wrong with the fact that Langston Hughes is a communist, or is banking on the fact that nobody will know it."

Under the same headline, the website also linked to a National Review Online column by William F. Buckley Jr. that attacked Kerry's campaign slogan:

Langston Hughes was asking America to "be America again," meaning, not an America that history had known and chronicled, but an America realizable in a new and different vision. The land of Marx and Lenin and Stalin.

Limbaugh read that excerpt from Buckley's National Review commentary on his June 30 show as well.

Limbaugh is not the first to attempt to draw a parallel between Senator Kerry and communism through his quoting of Hughes. As Media Matters for America previously noted, Wall Street Journal OpinionJournal.com editor James Taranto wrote on May 24, "The poet who inspired John Kerry's new campaign slogan, 'Let America be America again,' turns out to be a favorite of communists." And on June 15 -- as MMFA also documented -- FOX News Channel chief political correspondent Carl Cameron noted that Kerry was quoting someone (Hughes) who "praised communism."

In suggesting a connection between Kerry and communism through Hughes, Limbaugh, Cameron, Buckley, and Taranto all disregarded President George W. Bush's and First Lady Laura Bush's own high regard for the poet. In a proclamation celebrating Black History Month in February 2001, President Bush described Hughes as one of the writers "that inspire us." Also, at a March 2002 "Harlem Renaissance event" at the White House, the first lady recited a Hughes poem, including the esteemed poet among those writers whose "words ... opened us to the truth at a time when it most needed to be heard."

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