When I was a teenager, my dad used to say that the media in this country are so biased and so liberal that we conservatives needed to figure out a way to buy a big newspaper or television network so our views could have a voice. That was 35-40 years ago. Today, we have Rush Limbaugh. He is our voice. He is the counter-weight to the liberal media complex. He is the answer my dad and millions like him were hoping for. Those of us who were alive and attentive during the 1960’s and 1970’s know what it would be like if there wasn’t a Rush Limbaugh.
Rush didn’t have to buy a newspaper or television network to be heard. By the force of his brilliance and talent, he took the dying AM radio band and turned it into the most consequential and thriving media forum in the nation. Everyday at noon eastern time, millions and millions of Americans tune into the Rush Limbaugh Show to listen to Rush deconstruct the day’s events, skewer the liberal mind-set, and educate about America’s greatness. There’s really nobody like him — on or off the radio. He is a uniquely American icon. His influence on American culture is of a kind with Mark Twain and Will Rogers.
Think about Rush’s living legacy: he has created a genre of public discourse that reaches every corner of this nation — and beyond. He entertains and educates millions and millions of people everyday as they go about their daily routines — in their homes, offices, automobiles and other venues. He discusses current events, history, economics, law — you name it — in a seemingly effortless way. He not only speaks from the mind, but from the heart. He believes what he says and takes joy in tweaking the powerful. And most of all, Rush is sincere in his affection for his audience, and they for him. It is a bond that has withstood the test of time, and multiple efforts to break it.
And where would the conservative movement be without Rush? Is there anyone who can fill his shoes? Is there anyone who better explains and promotes conservatism? Is there anyone who better challenges those who claim conservatism’s death and would “reinvent” it to accommodate its critics? Conservatism flourishes because a few pivotal individuals stepped forward and used their unique vision and gifts to champion the cause: William Buckley, Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan and Rush Limbaugh.
In the talk radio business, there is Rush Limbaugh and then there’s everyone else. When Rush says, “If I don’t say it, it hasn’t been said,” he may be kidding, but for the rest of us it’s true. Not only does Rush have the most consequential talk show in America (remember Operation Chaos?), he has fostered a cadre of hosts who emulate his message and style, whether they admit it or not.
There is also the private Rush Limbaugh. Despite his enormous fame and busy schedule, Rush always has time to listen, give the best advice he can to those who solicit it, and lend a helping hand when needed. In my darkest moment, when I suffered a heart-attack, Rush wanted to get me the best medical care in the country. But his kindness isn’t limited to family and friends. He is extraordinarily generous to many charities, including those which support our troops, law enforcement, and battle cancer. He does these things not for accolades, for he doesn’t seek them, but to make a difference where he thinks he can.
We all owe Rush a debt that can never be fully repaid. Because he is so good at what he does and so effective as a national force, he takes the slings and arrows that would otherwise be aimed at the rest of us. His example gives us the courage to stand up for our principles and face down the vitriol of too many of our adversaries. And that’s what a leader does — a conservative leader and a leader in the radio industry.
Rush, congratulations on 20 years of — as you rightly say — excellence in broadcasting.