The opening of the Rush Limbaugh Show started with an unfamiliar voice that when she identified herself as Rush’s wife, immediately told me that Rush had died.
In short, end of an era.
There has not been a single radio broadcaster who so dominated his medium in the way that Rush has. In our atomizing society it’s hard to imagine there being another one. Rush had been a singular voice defining the right for over 30 years and that may well be the last one. Of course, there is no equivalent to a Rush on the left because they dominate each and every institution in the country; they don’t need a Rush. But conservatives did.
Rush Limbaugh’s last show before the Christmas break on December 23rd sounded like a farewell episode, as if he wasn’t sure he had many, or any shows left in him.
The day’s gonna come, folks, where I’m not gonna be able to do this. I don’t know when that is. I want to be able to do it for as long as I want to do it.
I want to, but the day will come where I’m not going to be able to, and I want you to understand that even when the day comes, I’d like to be here. ‘Cause I have this sense of needing to constantly show my appreciation for all that you have done and meant to me.
Is that good bye or what?
He also ruminated on the scope of his over 30 year career, and not in a good way.
You know, I’ve for 30 whatever number of years… Folks, I consider… (groans) How to talk about this? I consider… (sigh) Oh, how to say this? On one hand, looking at me from outside you think, “Wow, overwhelming success. Successful radio program, most-listened-to show in history.” AM radio? People thought it was dead. “Limbaugh comes along and it’s saved,” they say.
You know, I’m not gonna sit here and deny that. But, folks, I gotta tell you, there’s a large part of me that feels like I have failed in such a major way, in a political sense. I’ve had 30 years here to try to convince people, to try to persuade people, to try to encourage people to think — critically think — on their own, to realize the difference between conservatism and liberalism, the difference between the Republican Party and the Democrat Party as it relates to conservative versus liberal.
I know there’s RINOs, and I know that the Republican Party in the establishment wing of Washington, it’s not that different from the Democrats. But conservatism versus liberalism.
He was both right and wrong on that.
I recently wrote about his legacy noting that for all his efforts, he failed to key in on the major issues that has ended up killing traditional conservatism, how to handle immigration and how to handle the left’s conquest of every American institution, most importantly the education system. A Rush Limbaugh who had taken those issues seriously in the early nineties might have helped form a conservatism that could have defended itself.
I suspect that a version of Rush that could have altered the course of the country also probably wouldn’t be the major AM broadcaster in the country with the opportunity to introduce millions to conservatism, at least the acceptable version he actually talked about 3 hours a day. A paleo-conservative version of Rush may have found himself isolated to a few, or one radio station, with no real national presence. Rush offered an optimistic, Reaganesque version of conservatism that was attractive, but ultimately not sustainable in a post-cold war environment where the biggest enemies to the country were not in Tank Divisions on the Fulda Gap but in your own universities, government agencies, and magazine and newspaper publishers.
Rush leaves a country far more left leaning, and more open to left leaning ideas and policies than when he started his career, but that’s not a personal failure on his part, that’s the tides of history.
As for who can replace him…I’m of the opinion that he’s not replaceable. He was a unique presence and broadcaster who won’t have a real successor, no matter who takes over his spot on the radio.