A few years back a friend and I were catching up, talking about everything from old times to politics. At one point we got to talking about talk radio, how it shaped our thinking, and how our respective jobs now make it difficult to tune in like we used to. And then my buddy said something I thought perfectly captured what Rush Limbaugh means to tens of millions of us.
“I don’t get to listen to Rush as much as I’d like,” he said. “But I sure feel better knowing he’s out there.”
My friend didn’t say that as though he had given it a moment’s thought, or like he was saying something profound. It was just an offhand comment about the way he felt, but it immediately struck me as a nail hit on the head.
Since 1989, the unwritten rule in this house is that if you have the opportunity to listen to Rush Limbaugh, you listen to Rush Limbaugh; if you’re in the car between noon and three, you listen to Rush Limbaugh. In fact, because we live in the sticks and often travel an hour or two from home, the presets on the car radio are there for only one purpose: to ensure that as soon as our local station goes to static, and regardless of which direction we’re headed, with the touch of a button we don’t miss a word.
Unfortunately, we don’t get to listen to Rush as much as we used to, as much as we’d like, but we sure feel better knowing he’s out there.
Why we feel this unique comfort is obvious to anyone who has ever given his show a real chance: Rush Limbaugh is the voice of reason. No one better articulates, examines, exposes, and explains what’s happening in the world. No one does it with more energy, humor, truth, and insight. Rush has never sold us out, never condescended, lectured, or talked down to us. And just knowing that voice is out there, that someone is making the case, making sense of things, and articulating what we instinctively feel to millions and millions of Americans, is an enormous comfort.
Now I’ll tell you a true story about how Rush makes the political left feel…
When Rush first launched his national radio career, he toured the country in a series of Rush to Excellence appearances. My wife and I attended one in Milwaukee all the way back in ’89, and it was fabulous. Rush is so good at what he does, makes it seem so easy, you take for granted his ability to make you think and laugh. He’s our George Carlin. I still have the ticket stub.
Anyway, after the show, as we filed out of the venue, we bumped into an extended family member waiting outside. Can’t say I knew him well. We’d met at a few events over the years. Nice guy. College professor. Die hard lefty.
“Hey, what are you doing here?”
“Oh, I heard this guy was in town and wanted to get a feel for what he’s about.”
“You didn’t go to the show?”
“No, just wanted to take the temperature.”
He said this as he was looking over the crowd as though we were specimens in a social experiment.
“Well, we had a great time.”
That got his attention.
“Really? What did he talk about? What did he want?” he asked anxiously.
“He didn’t want anything. It was like his radio show, but focused more on broader issues and funnier.”
“This guy worries me,” he said, and drifted away still eyeing everyone suspiciously.
Rush faces more hate, more venom, more lies, more fake news than anyone not named Donald Trump, and has for decades. And this college professor, who was so anguished by Rush’s mere presence in his city that he drove all the way downtown late on a weeknight to see what was going on, explains why.
Sure, they call him all the “ists” and all the “phobes,” but that’s just cover. They hate him because he’s effective, the single most effective communicator of our time. He not only sees right through them, he can’t be bought, and this rejection they resent more than anything.
You see, one of the ways the left plucks and dilutes members of our team is through bribery: You don’t have to sell out completely. Just say one bad thing about Donald Trump and you’re in the club. We’ll put you on TV. We’ll treat you like a pet. You’ll be one of us, and all you have to do is say one bad thing about Donald Trump.
How many Vichy Conservatives have taken that deal? How many have we lost to the darkside?
His fidelity to us is one of the reasons we love him. In 30-plus years he has never let us down.
Rush Limbaugh is also a member of the most exclusive club in history: a legitimate genius.
We throw the word “genius” around a lot, and I’m as guilty as anyone, but what that word really means, at least to me, is someone who changes the way we all do things.
There just aren’t that many geniuses out there anymore.
Like Louis Armstrong changed music, Marlon Brando changed acting, David Chase changed TV, Steve Jobs changed the way we communicate, Matt Drudge changed the way we consume the news, and Andrew Breitbart changed the way we fight the left, Rush singlehandedly revolutionized talk radio.
Yes, there was Larry King’s overnight show with guests and interviews and callers. But that format had been around forever, and as good as King was at what he did, all he really did was keep you company.
King was comforting, he wasn’t vital.
Rush is vital.
So vital, he not only saved AM radio, a format that was headed to the scrap heap, he launched — what, hundreds, maybe thousands of conservative talkers? If you’re not old enough to remember BR (Before Rush) and AR (After Rush), you can’t begin to imagine this revolution. But it was not just a revolution in creating an entirely new radio and political format, it was a revolution that forever changed how tens of millions of Americans consume both radio and political commentary.
Oh, and at long last, we had someone who saw right through the establishment media, the biases, the lies, the agenda.
At long last we knew we weren’t alone…
And yet, as all this competition blossomed around him, with all the talk radio talent out there, Rush has not only remained number one, not only stayed on top – there simply is no equal.
How many people can say that?
No one stays at the top of the charts for 30 years. No one remains king of the hill for 30 years. No one.
The man is irreplaceable, and now he has advanced lung cancer… And still he knows his audience so well, he comforted us… Of course he’s going to fight. Of course he’s going to do everything he can to beat this thing. But what a generous thing it was for this intensely private man to share the comforting news that he’s focusing on his relationship with God.
We love the guy. He’s family. And the prayers we send will come from us, from family. Rush has already beat the cancer of the left-wing hate machine, the cancer of the establishment media’s character assassination, the cancer of Media Matters blacklists…
He’ll beat this.