Rush Limbaugh, Chris Matthews and the ‘regime’ question

Byron York
Washington Examiner
4/3/2010

On Friday, I asked Rush Limbaugh for his response to President Obama’s description of him as “troublesome” and of his program as “vitriol.” Limbaugh told me he does not believe Obama is trying to do what is best for the country and added, “Never in my life have I seen a regime like this, governing against the will of the people, purposely.”

By using the word “regime,” Limbaugh was doing something he does all the time: throwing the language of the opposition back in their faces. In the Bush years, we often heard the phrase “Bush regime” from some quarters of the left. So Limbaugh applied it to Obama.

Apparently some people didn’t get it. On MSNBC, Chris Matthews appeared deeply troubled by the word. “I’ve never seen language like this in the American press,” he said, “referring to an elected representative government, elected in a totally fair, democratic, American election — we will have another one in November, we’ll have another one for president in a couple years — 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 didn’t stop there. “I never heard the word ‘regime,’ before, have you?” he said to NBC’s Chuck Todd. “I don’t even think Joe McCarthy ever called this government a ‘regime.'”

It appears that Matthews has suffered a major memory loss. I don’t have the facilities to search for every utterance of Joe McCarthy, but a look at more recent times reveals many, many, many examples of the phrase “Bush regime.” In fact, a search of the Nexis database for “Bush regime” yields 6,769 examples from January 20, 2001 to the present.

It was used 16 times in the New York Times, beginning with an April 4, 2001 column by Maureen Dowd — who wrote, “Seventy-five days into the Bush regime and I’m a wreck” — and ending with a March 6, 2009 editorial denouncing the “frightening legal claim advanced by the Bush regime to justify holding [accused terrorist Ali al-Marri].”

“Bush regime” was used 24 times in the Washington Post, beginning with a January 22, 2001 profile of Marshall Wittmann by Howard Kurtz…

Read the entire article at the Washington Examiner.

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