For conservatives, one of the most powerful moments of last week’s State of the Union Address was when President Trump awarded talk-radio legend Rush Limbaugh with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor a president can bestow. This morning, NEO at his blog Nebraska Energy Observer has a piece up, “The Era of Limbaugh,” which is a must-read summary of Rush’s legacy.
It’s hard to understate El Rushbo’s influence. For many of us, he was our first exposure to conservative talk-radio (I even named the microphone we used for announcing football games “The Golden Mic”). He is a tent pole in the 12-3 PM time slot—unwavering, unshaking. I remember back in 2012 when a local Florence, South Carolina radio station dropped Rush—and he was unavailable in the Pee Dee for a few days (until another station picked him up a few days later). It was pandemonium! Well, at the very least, listeners were quite irate.
The station, 970 AM, not surprisingly did not survive as a news-talk station, switching to hip-hop (it is now, thankfully, a classic rock station). That was a shame, because local talk-host and former FCGOP Chairman Bill Pickle (yep, that’s his real name) lost his popular radio show, In the Pickle Barrel, when the station switched formats.
That’s Rush Limbaugh’s influence. That influence comes from an affable, down-to-earth style, but also a keen analytical mind. Rush is one of the first to figure out how the mainstream media operates, and how the Left maneuvers. He, along with Newt Gingrich, was able to articulate and understand Trump’s appeal and viability long before many of us on the Right (I’m referring largely to myself here, in my benighted Trump-skeptical days).
For Rush to receive such an honor, then, was a huge victory for the conservative movement—the acknowledgment of his contributions and legacy, which surely played a key role in President Trump’s election. Rush paved the way for Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Ben Shapiro, Neal Boortz (I miss his cantankerous, angry tirades), Michael Savage, etc. That it came on the heels of Rush’s devastating announcement of his advanced lung cancer made it all-the-more poignant.
President Trump also brilliantly presented the award during the State of the Union Address, when maximum eyeballs would witness the moment. I also read someone on Facebook point out that Trump did it when congressional Democrats had to be in attendance, effectively forcing them to attend Rush’s award ceremony.
Rush’s diagnosis doesn’t seem good, and while I don’t get to listen to his program often during the school day, it seems that he’s at a lot of fill-in guests lately. Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery. Losing Rush will be a huge blow to our movement, but he’s inspired a whole new class of excellent hosts to take his place.
Still, I say long live Rush Limbaugh!
…and when that unfortunate day comes and Rush needs a permanent host, I’ll add: “Hire Mark Steyn.”