Talk Radio would not exist were it not for Rush Limbaugh. That’s a plain and simple fact, and talk radio has been a vital tool for maintaining freedom and prosperity in this country since Rush’s program began airing nationally more than 31 years ago. He has been that important to the conservative political movement for the last three decades, far more important than any other individual over that period of time.
Rush has played the vital role of the conservative Happy Warrior, a role the country needed someone to step into as the great Ronald Reagan – or, as Rush loves to call him, Ronaldus Magnus – was winding down his presidency. With 95% of the nation’s news media slanted irrevocably and increasingly leftwards and becoming ever more corrupt by the day, American conservatives needed a prominent voice to stand up and shout the truth.
William F. Buckley famously once said that one of the roles for American conservatism was to be the lonely warrior who stands athwart history shouting “stop!”
For 31 years, Rush Limbaugh has stood athwart the passing scene shouting “stop!” with a smile on his face, a gleam in his eye, and joy in his heart. This has been no easy job.
Of all Americans of the 21st Century, no one, not even candidate and President Donald Trump, has been defamed, besmirched, libeled and slandered as often or as viciously as has Rush Limbaugh. His personal foibles – his divorces and addiction to prescription drugs and the cigar smoking that likely brought on his lung cancer – have become the fodder for unfunny late night talk show hosts and untalented talking heads on cable television.
He has been the target of too many opportunistic, flailing politicians to catalog, including American presidents. He was actually blamed by the despicable Bill Clinton for the Oklahoma City bombing. Barack Obama called him a danger to our society. For three decades he has served as the favorite boogeyman of the American left.
That’s because for three decades he has been right about them, and for three decades he has made himself and his voice relevant, an indispensable part of the fabric of our society. After all, if he weren’t right or so utterly relevant, they’d just ignore him. The fact that they cannot ignore him tells you how powerful his voice became.
One of his radio talk show colleagues – I forget which one now – once referred to Rush as the Babe Ruth of talk radio, and that is an appropriate analogy on several levels. Just as Ruth became a legendary, larger-than-life figure who turned his profession into a national pastime, Rush is a legendary, larger-than-life figure who saved AM talk radio and turned it into a massive media industry that dominates the airwaves.
But, more poignantly, Babe Ruth also habitually smoked cigars, and he also contracted lung cancer.
Our medical industry has advanced by light years since the 1940s, and everyone living today probably knows someone who has fought cancer and won their battle. We can be sure that Rush will fight this cancer with every fiber of his being, and that he will have access to the best medical care available.
I first discovered the Rush Limbaugh show one Sunday afternoon while listening to my pocket radio while mowing my lawn in 1988. Dallas AM station WBAP 820 at the time aired 3 hours of Rush’s show on the weekends – it wasn’t available on a daily basis until at least a year later. I’ve been a loyal listener of the show ever since that day more than 31 years ago.
All I and Rush’s many millions of other listeners can do now is hope and pray for his recovery. In closing his show on Monday, he said “Every day I’m not here, I’ll be thinking of you and missing you.”
I and many millions of other Americans will be missing thinking of and missing you, too, Rush. Godspeed.