Rush Limbaugh. How can one possibly sum up such a well-lived life?
One way? To suggest that Rush was, as it were, both the substance and the music of the conservative movement – and of America itself.
As the Clinton era dawned at the end of 1992, Rush received this letter out of the blue:
Thanks for all you’re doing to promote Republican and conservative principles. Now that I’ve retired from active politics, I don’t mind that you have become the Number One voice for conservatism in our Country.
I know the liberals call you ‘the most dangerous man in America,’ but don’t worry about it, they used to say the same thing about me. Keep up the good work. America needs to hear ‘the way things ought to be.’
Ronald Reagan knew a conservative leader when he saw one, and Reagan, whose career began as a local radio star in Davenport, Iowa. Reagan was a sportscaster for five years between 1932 and 1937, a job that opened up his Hollywood career – the latter in turn opening his political career.
Along the way Reagan became a thoroughly well-read conservative, all of which he was able to translate into his countless speeches, more radio shows and television broadcasts.
This, too, was the essence of Rush Limbaugh. He knew his substance – and he communicated it on radio with innovative music, skits, soundbites, imitations and more. As a Rush 24/7 member I always found the skits and musical numbers laugh out loud funny. One Democrat after another was lampooned in hilarious fashion from both Clintons to Barack Obama, Ted Kennedy and more. Republican liberals never escaped the same treatment, with merciless skits starring, among others, an imitator of the late Senator John McCain.
It was that very ability to entertain, to make people laugh and not least to poke fun at himself that, combined with the quite serious conservative substance, built Rush’s audience of 20 million listeners on some 650 radio stations around America. Rush fans could be driving anywhere in America and know with certainty that a scan of the dial between noon and 3 Eastern Time would with certainty bring in the famous voice and an update on the news of the day.
Critical to Rush was context. He wrote this in his last “Limbaugh Letter”:
“I’ve never forgotten for a moment that one of my self-assigned duties as your host is to unravel what the drive-by media is saying or ignoring. I provide critical context and background that the media either suppresses or lies about. I make the complex understandable. I can tell you in a few minutes what The New York Times tries to lie about in five pages.”
Exactly. That is just what Rush did. Context, context, context.
He was so good at providing context that his exasperated critics came up with a term for it: “Whataboutism.” And as I frequently would say, “whataboutism” is liberal speak for “double standard.”
Rush was, most importantly, ever the optimist. “I’m not trying to be optimistic for the sake of spin. I am optimistic because we live in America.”
The well-lived life of Rush Limbaugh leaves forever a legacy of optimism and a love for America. A legacy that can stand as a sterling example for generations of Americans unborn. It is a legacy that will, without doubt, be carried forward by his great friends Sean Hannity and Mark Levin, not to mention so many more in and out of talk radio and conservative media.
Farewell, friend Rush. And thank you.
Thank you for the substance – and the music.