Rush Limbaugh has died. It’s a sad time for his family and for everyone who listened to him. No one will ever replace him. He was a radio genius who didn’t just change everything when he entered the scene, but he remained ahead of everyone else right up to his last broadcast in early February. And one particular example of his genius sticks out to me this day.
I want to start by briefly covering how long I’ve listened to Rush. Rush started his national radio career in 1988. That was right around the time I was a teenager. I don’t recall exactly when I first heard his program or when I started becoming a regular listener. But I knew about him almost right away.
One of my earliest memories of Rush comes from his television show, which started in the early 1990s. When I was home on summer break from school, I had a lot of work I had to do. Some might call such work “chores” but they were a bit more extensive than that. I grew up in a rural place, and a sizable amount of wilderness surrounded us. We weren’t homesteaders but at times it could seem like we were. We had a garden, we had a small orchard, and we even foraged for wild raspberries.
So during mornings on summer break, I’d work at tending to the garden and harvesting crops, and doing the same with the fruit trees and raspberries. And I had a ton of other work too, including mowing grass, cutting back weeds from the edge of the grass (it wasn’t really a lawn), taking care of flowerbeds, digging out stumps, and so forth. But when I got done with those things in the morning, I’d head inside for lunch. And I’d watch Rush on TV at noon.
Think about that. I was a teenager who spent summers watching a talk show host discuss politics. That’s how good Rush was at what he did. He made politics fascinating to a teenager. That’s just incredible. By the way, if you ever catch a clip of Rush’s TV show, you’ll notice it’s similar to The Daily Show . . . except Rush was way before The Daily Show. The Daily Show copied him.
So Rush didn’t just dominate radio; he was hugely successful on TV too. Again, incredible when you think about it.
Rush hooked me early on in his career and I listened to him a lot after that. Over the next few decades, sometimes I listened to him more often than I did others, depending on where I was working. But I always kept listening.
Rush was so good at what he did, and so ahead of everyone else, that there are many different examples people can point to and say, “That was just brilliant.” He was great at ignoring the progressive narrative—at rejecting the progressive way of thinking about things—and establishing the right perspective from which to view them. To this day, so many other conservatives can’t do that. Indeed, I’d say most conservatives are helpless captives to whatever narrative progressives set.
And one of the best examples I remember of Rush’s genius at this—at crushing the progressive narrative and taking charge of things—occurred in 2007. Back then, America was at the height of the Iraq War. And as progressives—Democrats, journalists, and the rest of the ruling class—always do during a legitimate (I emphasize “legitimate”) American war, they worked to undermine it. Not only that, but they tried to do so while saying they were patriotic while actual patriotic Americans were being un-patriotic.
One of the favorite ways for progressives to undermine wars is to dig up fake or real troops and have them disparage the fight. They do this by either having people who aren’t servicemen lie and say that they are troops who have something negative to say, or by having actual servicemen who are sympathetic to their subversive cause lie about “war crimes” and so forth.
A caller to Rush’s show who identified himself as a serviceman was talking to Rush about this progressive tactic, and they (Rush and the caller) eventually referred to such people as “phony soldiers.” And from this soundbite, progressives launched an attack that accused Rush of “smearing” legitimate troops.
I won’t go into all the details of the attack but they are easy enough to find. Suffice it to say that at the height of the attack, the despicable Harry Reid (then a senator) used that attack to lead an effort to end Rush’s career. His effort included sending a letter (signed by a bunch of other senators) to the head of the network that syndicated Rush’s show.
At this point, pretty much every other conservative would’ve surrendered. They would’ve bawled an apology and begged forgiveness for . . . nothing—for an “error” they didn’t make—for an “error” that was an insidious attack by progressives. Rush, of course, did the opposite. He rejected every bit of the progressive attack—the narrative—and went on the offensive. And that offensive started in Philadelphia during a Rush to Excellence tour appearance, something which I was able to attend in person and witness firsthand. I’ll let the below video clip show you exactly what happened.
Brilliant. And from there Rush never let up. He took control of the situation and soon Dingy Harry Reid and the Democrats were begging him for mercy. Rush turned the progs’ plan to defeat him into something he made them regret ever conceiving of doing. No other big conservative would’ve been able to do that then. No other big conservative would be able to do it today. He was way ahead of everyone when he started, and way ahead of everyone when he finished.
And that is a perfect example of Rush’s genius.
If you want to see more of how Rush was like no other and just how astoundingly influential he was, read Mark Steyn’s tribute to him. It’s an amazing piece.
Rush Limbaugh is gone, and the void he has left will remain. He was a pioneer who influenced millions. And we will greatly miss him.
Top Image: Photo from The Rush Limbaugh Show website.