Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Should Rush Limbaugh and Chris Matthews be sharing a cell in federal prison?

TIME magazine columnist, Joe Klein, for all intents and purposes accused Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck of sedition during an appearance on Chris Matthews' show April 18. He said, "I did a little bit of research just before this show--it's on this little napkin here. I looked up the definition of 'sedition,' which is conduct or language inciting rebellion against the authority of the state. And a lot of these statements, especially the ones coming from people like Glenn Beck, and to a certain extent, Sarah Palin, rub right up close to being seditious."

Since we're consulting dictionaries, Merriam-Webster Online defines sedition as:

Main Entry: sedition
Pronunciation: se·di·tion
Function: noun
Date: 14th century
incitement of resistance to or insurrection against lawful authority

A visit to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary of Law shows an even more serious definition of the word:

Main Entry: sedition
Pronunciation: se·di·tion
the crime of creating a revolt, disturbance, or violence against lawful civil authority with the intent to cause its overthrow or destruction— compare CRIMINAL SYNDICALISM

Those are some serious accusations, Joe. Everything from inciting rebellion, to inciting resistance or insurrection, to a crime intended to overthrow or destroy the government.

Even so, it wasn't long before others jumped on Klein's bandwagon. John Heilemann of New York Magazine agreed with Klein and even added Rush Limbaugh to the list of the "seditious." His reason? "I'll name Rush Limbaugh, who uses this phrase constantly and talks about the Obama administration as a 'regime.' That phrase, which has connotations of tyranny."

This isn't really new. I've heard a lot of rumblings lately about how the right is stooping so low as to use the heinous word, "regime" when describing Obama's administration.

It does sound kind of wrong to accuse any American administration of being a "regime." After all, didn't we say, "Sadam Hussein's regime," before we took him out?

Chris Matthews sure doesn't like it. He said, in an on-air rant: "I've never seen language like this in the American press, referring to an elected representative government, elected in a totally fair, democratic American election... fair, free, and wonderful democracy we have in this country.... We know that word, 'regime.' It was used by George Bush, 'regime change.' You go to war with regimes. Regimes are tyrannies. They're juntas. They're military coups. The use of the word 'regime' in American political parlance is unacceptable, and someone should tell the walrus [Limbaugh] to stop using it." Matthews continued, "I never heard the word 'regime' before, have you?" he asked NBC's Chuck Todd. "I don't even think Joe McCarthy ever called this government a 'regime.'"

But it sounds so familiar. I know there are other examples...oh, yes, of course! I remember now.

The Bush Regime.

NewsBusters.com has compiled video of MSNBC staff and former staff, including Chris Matthews, using the term "Bush regime" several times.

Progressive organization Center for Media and Democracy's "Source Watch" cites a Wikepedia-like definition for the term Bush regime. The term shows up in The World Can't Wait's website 92 times. Political analyst and free-lance writer, Ted Lang, writes about "The Nazi Bush Regime" on rence.com.

If you're looking for a gift for your lefty friends, you can purchase a Bush Regime deck of cards, detailing the "52 most dangerous dignitaries." Or,

you can download a "Wanted" poster titled, "Wanted for Mass Murder: The Bush Regime," complete with "mug shots" of various Bush staffers, including Condoleezza Rice.

There are articles about the Bush Regime trying to postpone the elections; there's the Bush Regime Historical Society that was taking design ideas for a monument; Sidney Blumenthal wrote the book, How Bush Rules: Chronicals of a Radical Regime; the term was used 16 times in the New York Times and 24 times in the Washington Post.

I could go on, but there are too many references to cite.

To those progressives who clutch their pearls every time Rush Limbaugh says the words, "Obama regime," I say, "If the right is guilty of sedition, which is a federal crime, shouldn't Chris Matthews and his friends be broadcasting their rants from federal prison?"

Or maybe the left should just let this go.