Rush Limbaugh caught several media outlets off guard Monday when he opened his radio show by offering what appeared to be genuine praise for President Obama.
"We need to open the program today by congratulating President Obama," Limbaugh said at the start of his show, the first since news broke Sunday that U.S. forces had killed Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan. "President Obama has done something extremely effective, and when he does, this needs to be pointed out."
A number of media outlets were quick to lump Limbaugh in with a number of his conservative brethren, who have offered their own congratulations to Obama for ordering the raid of the al-Qaida leader’s secret Pakistani hideaway.
But even if Limbaugh’s opening contained even a hint of sincerity (and, in fairness, the first few moments make it difficult to tell), what came next should have been a tip off to anyone listening closely that the conservative commentator was having some fun at the media's expense.
Rush’s opening: (emphasis added)
President Obama has continued the Bush policies of keeping a military presence in the Middle East. He did not scrub the mission to get Bin Laden. In fact, it may be that President Obama single-handedly came up with the technique in order to pull this off. You see, the military wanted to go in there and bomb as they always do. They wanted to drop missiles and drop bombs and a number of totally destructive techniques here. But President Obama, perhaps the only qualified member in the room to deal with this, insisted on the Special Forces. No one else thought of that. President Obama. Not a single intelligence adviser, not a single national security adviser, not a single military adviser came up with the idea of using SEAL Team 6 or any Special Forces.
Among those that must have tuned out a little too soon was the New York Daily News, which called it “the rarest of kumbaya moments” and said that Limbaugh “hailed Obama for his plan to snuff out the world’s most wanted man":
Limbaugh lauded Obama's focus, saying his decision to send a Specials Forces team to take out the terror kingpin amounted to a brilliant piece of military strategy.
Mediaite, meanwhile, had this to say:
You know how people always talk about getting back to the way we were on September 12th? It may have just happened.
Updated at 4:27 p.m.: It's official. Limbaugh broke into laughter multiple times later Monday while reading a media report that missed the sarcasm in his earlier comments. Media Matters has the audio.
Watch the original video here:
Over on main Slate we’re overflowing with original insight and analysis on story of the day.
-Fred Kaplan explains what Bin Laden’s death means for al-Qaida and for U.S. relations with Afghanistan and Pakistan.
-Christopher Hitchens takes a look at what Osama’s legacy will be.
-Brian Palmer explains why the US buried him at sea.
-John Dickerson tells you how Obama’s focused, hand-on pursuit of the al-Qaida leader paid off.
And for all you visual learners, we’ve got a slideshow of people celebrating the news.