GIVE DENNIS HIS DUE: When Dennis Kucinich lost his re-election bid on March 6, the country lost something too. The Congressman from Ohio was that rare politician who makes real the cliché “speak truth to power.” Kucinich was never afraid to take the positions that should have been at the core of the Democratic Party. He was among the few who opposed the Patriot Act. He opposed the Iraq invasion, “whipping” three-fifths of House Democrats to vote against it too. Later he pushed to defund the war when few in his party were willing to go along. And with almost no political support, he introduced articles of impeachment against Dick Cheney for lying to get us into the war.
Kucinich railed against the abuse of executive power, under both Bush and Obama. He pushed to investigate the politicization of 9/11. He called for an end to hostilities in Gaza and warned, as he still warns, of fearmongering that would lead to another war of choice, this one with Iran. And he stood on the side of all who believed that a battle against economic inequality was the war worth waging.
Kucinich has been a frequent contributor to The Nation, and his political courage was praised in its pages by Studs Terkel and Gore Vidal. I have not always agreed with Kucinich’s views or tactics. But I have great respect for how hard he tried to move the conversation in Washington back toward the left. When we lose outspoken progressives like him or Russ Feingold, we lose the counterbalance we need against the powerful forces that have gathered on behalf of the 1 percent. Such leaders cannot just be replaced by people who quietly vote the same way. It is the public debate that stakes out progressive positions to help define the true national center. Kucinich believes in the power of progressive ideas and ideals and did his best to force the media to pay attention to them. That’s what made him matter more than the average Congressman. Indeed, more than most. KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL
PULLING THE PLUG ON LIMBAUGH: Rush Limbaugh upped the volume on his vitriol when he moved from his usual trashing of prominent women like Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton to attacking Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke, calling her a “slut” and a “prostitute” because she dared to defend reproductive rights.
While the GOP presidential candidates, who continue to bow and scrape before Limbaugh, chose not to call him out—the best Mitt Romney could do was say he would have chosen different language—Limbaugh’s advertisers finally decided to make a break with the man who dismisses feminists as “femi-Nazis.” Ten days after Limbaugh’s slut talk, the Clear Channel Communications subsidiary that distributes his show listed ninety-eight national companies that had requested their spots not be aired during programs “deemed to be offensive or controversial.”
Advertisers weren’t the only ones revolting against Limbaugh’s revolting remarks. The host has always tried to spice up his show with rock music. But it’s going to be harder now. When Peter Gabriel learned his song “Sledgehammer” was playing in the background while the host attacked Fluke, the “appalled” British rocker demanded that Limbaugh stop playing his music. The Canadian band Rush threatened legal action unless Limbaugh agreed to “immediately stop all use” of its work. And when Tom Morello and his bandmates learned Limbaugh was playing their music, they summed up a lot of sentiment with this message: “Hey Jackass, stop using our music on your racist, misogynist, right wing clown show. Sincerely, Rage Against The Machine.” JOHN NICHOLS