Air O’Reilly-ca

Air America Minnesota hit a new low on Labor Day, seems to me. Fill-in host Elaine Boosler laughed at John McCain’s being shot down and imprisoned in Vietnam. Let’s not stoop to O’Reilly’s tactics and attitude, fellow liberals. Good God, let’s have a little humanity.

The issue was fair game for commentary and lampooning. To meet America’s Mayor’s claim to being presidential timber — that he was alive and in New York and stood tall when the terrorists hit — the flagging McCain campaign is now re-emphasizing McCain’s experience as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Boosler, sitting in for Stephanie Miller, mocked the attempt, fairly challenging the logic that because McCain was shot down and imprisoned, he is therefore a leader. You can argue either way on that one, but it’s fair to argue.

But Boosler went farther. Too far. “He screwed up, got captured, does that make him a leader?” Did McCain screw up? This 1967 flight was his 23rd mission over Vietnam during the war. He got shot down. It wasn’t his screwup. It was Lyndon Johnson’s screwup to have us in that awful war, and all those in Congress who went along. McCain paid the price for dreadful political decisions, as too many Amercians and Iraqis are paying the price for similar dreadful decisions today.  

Then Boosler and her sidekick wondered how McCain got the footage of him being questioned by the North Vietnamese during his capture, which is now being shown in a video about McCain at “house parties” during his campaign. They laughed about filming interrogations being part of the services the Hanoi Hilton (the ironic nickname given the prison complex in North Vietnam) provided to its guests, along with directions to the bar mitzvahs and other parties going on at the “hotel.” Oh, they giggled uproariously. About a guy who was tortured. Who served his country when his leaders called — wrong as those leaders may have been, in my view. How dare any of us laugh at a man’s torture? I’ll bet Boosler was outraged when American soldiers tortured Iraqis in this war.

Boosler and her giggling partner pictured the house parties — “Try the brie, and watch this guy get slapped around,” Boosler said, impersonating a hostess at a McCain party. Again, the issue is fair game — does McCain’s war experience make him a leader? But the laughter and the mocking — that’s Bill O’Reilly/Rush Limbaugh crap, and we should be more human than they are. It ain’t that hard.

–Bruce Benidt