I heard the news about Rush Limbaugh when I was out and about, behind the wheel today. And as I listened to his wife, Kathryn announce that he had passed on, it didn't matter to me where I was or where I was going. Did I miss an exit or a turn? Was I going too fast or too slow? Was I headed into traffic or away from it? None of it mattered.
I was truy directionless and my mind started drifing back to the days when I first started listening to Rush Limbaugh's riveting radio broadcasts. Rush had only been on the air a couple of years when I first started tuning in during the presidency of George H. W Bush. But it wasn't until the presidential campaign of 1992 and the subsequent election of Bill Clinton that Rush became a go-to daily tonic for me and, I suppose, so manyothers. It was a time very much like now. A seemingly popular incumbent president had been defeated after a relatively rapid fall from grace as Democrats ended a Republican reign.
For so many of us at that time, Rush was a lifeline. He was insightful, funny, irreverent, informative, encouraging and relentless as he zeroed in on all of Bill and Hilary's erroneous zones and day-after-day peeled away the facade of a hugely self-indulgent presidency. At he same time he challenged conservatives to come up with something better -- to bring forth better ideas and better candidates so that we could get through this mess and put the country we love back on the right track.
And then he did this all over again during the equally self-absorbed reign of Barack Obama.
This is what Rush did: he dared us to enter the arena with him; to fight the good fight and to uphold the great principals that our founding fathers promulgated when they created this nation.
This is what Rush was trying to do even to his final days as he continued to battle on in the post Trump era. Courageously, this man who knew he would not be with us much longer, buoyed us and urged us forward while reassuring us that better days would surely dawn and we would triumph once again.
Sadly, Rush Limbaugh's cynical, myopic critics never understood this. Perhaps it's because they never really bothered to listen to Rush. They never really paid attention. They only knew what they heard or read about him as a biased legacy media endlessly repeated out-of-context, selected clips from Rush's broadcasts.
Rush Limbaugh knew what the left was up to. He knew how much liberals wanted to take him down. And he not only enjoyed all the attention they heaped upon him but he threw it back at them. He used their rage, their distortions and their hypocrisy to expose them over and over again. And it drove them crazy. Like a mischievous schoolboy, Rush regaled in this.
- Rush Limbaugh mattered because he made us care about the everyday, real life consequences of politics and public policy.
- He mattered because he made us understand that the struggle between left and right is part of an ongoing cultural war that involves the popular culture as well.
- He mattered because he literally saved terrestrial radio as a potent communications force and virtually invented talk radio as the single most powerful format on the dial.
- He mattered because he exposed the shallowness of bureaucrats and functionaries; saw through the self-aggrandizing phoniness of so-called "leaders" and mocked the vainglorious pomposity of dominant media darlings.
- Rush Limbaugh mattered because he was a true American Original who reminded us that rugged individualism made this country great and we're not here to fit into some cookie cutter mold or conform to some banal orthodoxy.
- He mattered because he never took himself too seriously and loved a good joke.
- He mattered because he proved that talent, grit and drive still count for something and that you don't need a privileged upbringing or impressive credentials or even a college diploma to make it to the top.
- Rush mattered because he cared. He remained passionate and unrelenting.
- He mattered because he wasn't a quitter. He could have quietly tiptoed into the sunset. But he fought on right to the end.
- He mattered because he loved his audience and they knew it every day they tuned into his program.
- He mattered because he left all of us a roadmap for how to carry on in his absence and how to champion a populist conservatism that reveres American exceptionalism and puts America first. And we will do that!
Rush Limbaugh mattered, above all, because he loved his country, its history, its heritage, its traditions, its servants and its citizens.
Nobody -- nobody! -- can or will replace this man! He was truly inimitable!