WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV – D) called into question this morning whether conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh actually had a coronary episode while vacationing in Hawaii last month. With public support for a government run healthcare package rapidly declining, Reid suggested the chest pains Limbaugh experienced were nothing but a publicity stunt to derail the passage of a universal healthcare bill.
The basis of such a suggestion comes from the fact that Limbaugh did not have a heart attack or any other signs of heart disease. The premise of the story suggests that Limbaugh faked his chest pain so as to call attention to his ability to obtain quality healthcare without the involvement of a government run plan.
The accusation comes at the heals of the most recent publicity issue for Reid, namely when comments he made about Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign revealed what many consider to be racist remarks. In the upcoming book Game Change, Reid is quoted to have described in private then-Sen. Barack Obama as “light skinned” and “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.” Republicans have been quick to cry foul over the remarks, and have demanded the Majority Leader step down. Reid has no intention of doing so, and offered an immediate apology to the President for his “poor choice of words”. The apology was then followed up by a list of the black people that Reid knows and gets along with. President Obama immediately accepted Reid’s apology.
Reid’s accusation is not the first time he has used his position as Senate Majority Leader to attack the talk show host. In 2007, Reid took time to discuss comments made by Rush Limbaugh about “phony soldiers” on the Senate floor. Reid subsequently drafted a letter addressed to Limbaugh’s syndicator which requested repudiation of the remarks. In the letter, Reid suggested that Limbaugh referred to soldiers who have come out against the war in Iraq as “phony”. The letter was signed by 41 senators, including then-senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Limbaugh had actually used the term “phony soldiers” in reference to Jesse MacBeth, a man who falsely claimed to be a decorated war hero and an opponent of the Iraqi War. Limbaugh subsequently auctioned the letter from the Nevada senator on eBay for just over $2.1 million. He subsequently matched that sum and gave the entire proceeds to charity.
In the newest attack on one of his most outspoken critics, sources in Reid’s office speaking on the condition of anonymity revealed the senator’s intention to summon the healthcare professionals who attended to Limbaugh when he was admitted to the hospital with chest pains last month. Reid’s hope would be that such testimony would reveal the event to have been made up so as to fuel the fire for opponents of the universal healthcare legislation. The Senate will be hard pressed to compel such testimony though, as laws surrounding doctor and patient relationships keep the details of Limbaugh’s care private.
Repeated calls to Rush Limbaugh’s office for comment on Reid’s accusation have gone unanswered.