Is this year’s stunning Super Bowl victory by the New England Patriots somehow un-American?

That question is being examined by radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, in the wake of celebratory remarks by Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. Limbaugh is reacting to Kennedy’s statement on the Senate floor congratulating the team for the first NFL title in its 42-year history.

Sen. Edward Kennedy

“At a time when our entire country is banding together and facing down individualism,” said Kennedy, “the Patriots set a wonderful example, showing us all what is possible when we work together, believe in each other and sacrifice for the greater good.”

“Nobody sacrificed anything on the Patriots for the greater good!” exclaimed Limbaugh in response during yesterday’s national broadcast. “That’s so close to the Communist Manifesto, it’s frightening. …

“These are socialists, folks, this is what you have got to understand. To Sen. Kennedy, the New England Patriots typify socialism. That’s what he means when he talks about a bunch of people sacrificing, believing in each other, working together for the greater good.”

The Patriots, who went into this week’s Super Bowl as underdogs, surprised many football fans with their performance, culminating with a thrilling 20-17 win over the St. Louis Rams in the final seconds. Kennedy says the victory could not have come at a more poignant time for the U.S.

“Since Sept. 11, the courageous acts of countless Americans have set a new standard for the nation,” Kennedy said. “Indeed, a new American spirit has been forged. That spirit is characterized by sacrifice, humility and a refusal to quit in the face of adversity. … In Boston, April 15 is Patriot’s Day – a day when we celebrate the brave men and women who fought for our nation’s independence.”

“Yes, senator – independence,” said Limbaugh rhetorically. “What does that mean? Freedom, independence. It has the same root as individual.”

The conservative radio host spent 10 minutes assailing Kennedy – a longtime liberal voice – for alluding to last year’s terrorist attacks in his comments.

“Have we been facing down individualism?” Limbaugh asked. “Who are we facing down since Sept. 11? We’re facing down terrorists – they are individualists. Do you see? This is exactly what liberals try to do. They are equating rugged individualism. There would not be an America were it not for that, ladies and gentlemen.

“This is a country founded by rugged individuals, and at the time there was no common good when some of them were out there doing what they were doing. They didn’t know what the common good was going to be. All they knew is they were oppressed, and they were seeking freedom.

“So now, individuals are said to be terrorists. Individuals are these people who hijack jet aircraft and fly them into the World Trade Center, according to Sen. Kennedy. …

“Since when did anybody say we’re facing down individualism? Nobody has, but we know, thanks to Sen. Kennedy, this is what is in their minds. They are seeking to use … the events of Sept. 11 to further their own socialist agenda. And thanks to the New England Patriots for helping it along, with their silly notion of being introduced as a team prior to football games.”

Limbaugh was referring to the Patriots’ season-long decision to be introduced as an entire team, rather than having the names of individual players announced before the start of each contest.

“This is not what football is; this is not what football represents. Yes, there’s teamwork, but teams are made up of individuals performing individual tasks to the best they can for a common good, but it’s individuals doing what they’re supposed to do at the right place, at the right time which adds up to a common good being met.”

Repeated calls to Kennedy’s office and the New England Patriots for comment were not returned.

For years, Limbaugh has promoted the concept of “rugged individualism,” heralding it as one of the ideas that has strengthened the nation’s character.

“All the human beings that have lived … no two of them are identical,” he stated. “Just in that vein alone, but then you add such things as intelligence, ambition, gumption, you name it. Equality? There’s no such thing, and thank God for that. Everybody’s unique! Every individual is unique. And that’s what this country celebrates … the recognition that we are different.”

He says perhaps statements like Kennedy’s bother him more than they should, but notes it’s the kind of remark that people who want to feel good about themselves lap up.

“‘Sacrifice for the common good.’ Well, that sounds wonderful,” said Limbaugh. “Ya know, if I did that I could really feel good about myself saying I did it. I sacrificed for the common good. Well, that’s socialism. And the common good ends up to be common mediocrity and misery, and you can spread that equally … and that’s what people like Ted Kennedy are trying to do.”

Limbaugh even borrowed a line from President Bush’s State of the Union speech, referring to House and Senate Democrats as an “evil axis,” but he admitted he wasn’t sure if Kennedy himself was aware of the meaning behind his Senate statement.

“I’ve often asked myself, ‘Do liberals really know?’ And I’ve said they can’t be this stupid; they have to know, which makes it even more evil.”

Limbaugh also took a swipe at Kennedy for what he believes is the Democrat’s jumping onto the Super Bowl bandwagon.

“I don’t think Sen. Kennedy gave a rat’s rear end about the New England Patriots till they won the title,” opined Limbaugh. “I never heard him talk about the Patriots. I’ve never seen him at a Patriots game, probably because they don’t have any skyboxes where you can drink in private.”

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