The Friday Rush: Limbaugh health care falsehoods here, there, and everywhere

››› ››› GREG LEWIS

In less time than it takes to fly from Maui to Molokai on your private jet, Rush Limbaugh abandoned one discredited talking point for another -- from referring to Obama's back-to-school "indoctrination speech" to declaring that Obama "just gave a speech that he doesn't believe a word of" and was "100 percent conservative in its message."

"It was disgusting, and it was reprehensible, and it was predictable."

Those were the words Rush Limbaugh used to describe President Obama's address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night. But the words also perfectly describe Limbaugh's own reaction to the speech on his Thursday broadcast.

Rush wasted no time at all at the start of his Thursday show, describing the president's speech as "inappropriate," "childish," and "disgusting." Beyond the "petulant" name-calling, Rush made a bold accusation: that the president "lied through his teeth" during the speech.

Limbaugh's entire program that day was based around the notion that Obama was "lying ... from the moment he opens his mouth until he ends the speech." And yet, we'd say it was Rush who hopped from one lie and skipped to the next for three solid hours.

For example: Limbaugh capped off his weeklong insistence that "death panels" are implicitly -- not explicitly -- in the House bill by responding to Obama's charge that the idea of death panels "is a lie, plain and simple" by saying:

LIMBAUGH: It's not a lie, plain and simple. [...] It's in the bill. You want them run out of the White House. They are going to determine who gets treated and who doesn't. [...] So we're not lying. We're not spreading bogus claims. You call us out, we're gonna hit back twice as hard.

Rush also rehashed the tired falsehood that under the House bill, if "you change any aspect [of your insurance], including the price of the premium of your current plan, you are automatically disqualified from it and you are sent to the public plan, you're sent to the government-run option." Wrong.

And as Rush treated every health care fiction as fact, he also defended the "You lie!" outburst from Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) during Obama's speech. "I was ecstatic when I heard that last night," said Rush. Of the Wilson-invoked idea that Obama's plan would cover illegal immigrants, Rush trotted out this twisted bit of logic:

LIMBAUGH: It will cover undocumented aliens. Now, it may not specifically say so in the bill, but we have to know that what's coming is amnesty. They're going to be made legal. We're gonna have all of this. If Obama gets his way, we're going to legalize 12 to 20 million illegals, and then they're gonna become citizens, and they're gonna get coverage. And they're -- at the end of the day, going to still be illegal, regardless of the law, and amnesty, and everything else.

This can best be described as a circle of illogic -- according to Rush, the bill will cover illegal aliens because a separate law will be passed making them legal, at which point they'll be covered, but they'll still be illegal because you have to disregard the law that makes them legal, which enables them to be covered.

But let's not stray too far from the point at hand. Media Matters has addressed this falsehood, and PolitiFact specifically fact-checked Wilson's outburst. End of discussion (unless you want to discuss how undocumented immigrants probably should be covered under health care reform).

Keep in mind, Rush repeated all of these tired falsehoods under the guise of fact-checking Obama. "There are no bogus claims," declared Rush. "We are spreading the truth, Mr. President, to save America." He later added: "You are the one lying. You are the one with bogus information. You, sir, are the one without a plan."

Rush ran with this idea even further on Friday's show: He called for Obama to resign for "lying and defrauding the American people" during his speech:

LIMBAUGH: This is why I'm just angry as hell people say Joe Wilson ought to apologize -- President of the United States needs to apologize. He actually needs to resign.

That's an audacious charge, even for Rush, and we're curious if the media will pick up on it in the following days.

While we're discussing Friday's show, Rush's call for the president to quit was actually a brief aside during what was otherwise a three-hour rant about the horrors of community service. Yeah, you read correctly -- Rush devoted much of his airtime crying foul over the idea that the president might ask citizens to help their communities. "Community service is one of the baby steps toward fascism," said Rush.

Rush later added:

LIMBAUGH: The term community service offends the hell out of me. [...] It is nothing more than a well-sounding compassionate label. But it means something entirely different. It means turning you into a robot. It means turning the focus of your life into how can you serve Obama by serving his agenda.

We've long been amazed by Limbaugh's ability to take what appears to be harmless policy and make it sound like Obama is the villain in a James Bond movie. But he just made community service -- community service! -- sound like Mussolini's most horrific endeavor. Leave it to Rush to clear his own path through a forest of lunacy.

Speaking of lunacy, we had trouble following Limbaugh's various pivots throughout the week. No sooner does Rush take a stance on an issue then he entirely backs off it. Most prominent was what occurred on Monday's show. For those of you who enjoyed your Labor Day weekend, we'll recap what happened last week. It became known that Obama would give a speech to the nation's students to deliver a message of staying in school, working hard, and the "importance of education." But to conservatives in the media, this clearly was code language for a Marxist indoctrination of our children.

So while Rush was off strutting around in funny shorts on Hawaiian golf courses, he completely missed out on the conservative freak-out of the week. Probably sore from being left out, Rush started off on Tuesday by describing how Obama's back-to-school "indoctrination speech" was going on at the same time his own show began. But by the time Obama's school speech concluded -- about 20 minutes into Rush's show -- it was obvious that the right overreacted to the president's rather benign message about personal responsibility.

What did Rush do when he realized the "indoctrination" buzzword was no longer apt? He simply changed course. Rush declared that Obama "just gave a speech that he doesn't believe a word of," and even called the speech "100 percent conservative in its message."

In less time than it takes to fly from Maui to Molokai on your private jet, Limbaugh abandoned one discredited talking point, only to pick up another.

And that wasn't his only shift in attitude of the week. Out of nowhere on Monday's show, Rush baselessly accused the Oval Office of calling town hall protesters Nazis. This was a variation of a previous falsehood -- that Nancy Pelosi called protestors Nazis (she didn't) -- which Rush had harped on for weeks. However, by Thursday, this momentary lapse was forgotten and Rush was back to pinning the blame on Pelosi. Wrong either way you look at it, but a nonetheless bizarre double-about-face.

Anyway, enjoy your always-Rush-free weekends. Remember, Limbaugh would be "proud" of you if you attended the 9/12 tea parties, so bear that in mind if you've considered attending.

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