Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Limbaugh and Lee Harvey Oswald's Mother

"President Obama Ordered the Killing of Three Black Muslim Kids" is his own headline for this week's Rush Limbaugh rant about the weekend rescue of Capt. Richard Phillips from Indian Ocean pirates:

"You know what we have learned about the Somali pirates, the merchant marine organizers that were wiped out at the order of Barack Obama, you know what we learned about them? They were teenagers. The Somali pirates, the merchant marine organizers who took a US merchant captain hostage for five days were inexperienced youths, the defense secretary, Roberts Gates, said yesterday, adding that the hijackers were between 17 and 19 years old. Now, just imagine the hue and cry had a Republican president ordered the shooting of black teenagers on the high seas."

Trying to imagine is hard, but the boggled mind eventually finds a precedent for Limbaugh's brand of logic in the reaction of Lee Harvey Oswald's mother when she was called to testify before the Warren Commission about her son's assassination of JFK.

Mrs. Oswald was miffed, she told reporters, about not being invited to the White House by Lady Bird Johnson, the new First Lady. "After all," she explained, "my son was killed in the same incident in which her husband became president."

For my editorial sins, I later had to have several phone conversations with Mrs. Oswald, and her shaky cause-and-effect connections became even clearer as she pursued her celebrity career as "a mother in history," eventually capped by calling JFK's death a "mercy killing" because he was suffering from Parkinson's Disease.

As he expands his own role in our era, Limbaugh is in as much danger as Mrs. Oswald of losing sight of reality before launching into grandiose analogies.

"They were kids," he said this week. "The story is out, I don't know if it's true or not, but apparently the hijackers, these kids, the merchant marine organizers, Muslim kids, were upset, they wanted to just give the captain back and head home because they were running out of food, they were running out of fuel, they were surrounded by all these US Navy ships, big ships, and they just wanted out of there. That's the story, but then when one of them put a gun to the back of the captain, Mr. Phillips, then bam, bam, bam. There you have it, and three teenagers shot on the high seas at the order of President Obama."

Somewhere in loony heaven, Marguerite Oswald must be nodding in agreement.

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