Another week is dawning, and it’s time to look at the sun setting on some excellent individuals. 2020 was a rough year for many reasons, not least because of the deaths it brought. Here’s hoping this week’s titans are resting in the arms of Jesus:
“Rock in Peace, Eddie Van Halen” – If any of these three aren’t resting in the arms of Jesus, it’s probably Eddie Van Halen, though I’m holding out hope he experienced some manner of conversion experience and is playing “Panama” inside the pearly gates. Eddie was a pioneering guitarist, but he also built on the legacies of past giants, like the violinist Niccolo Paganini (who was so good, it was said he sold his soul to the devil for the privilege; if that’s true, there’s a pretty good band in Hell right now—not that you’d want to go and hear them!)
“Rest in Peace, Alex Trebek” – Smarmy. Smug. Canadian (I think). Alex Trebek is synonymous with Jeopardy!, and it’s unclear that anyone can fill his shoes. He brought just the right balance of bedside manner and not giving a damn to his hosting duties, asking guests for their tedious life stories, and occasionally finding them lackluster. But, boy, he was a good host. Rest in Peace, Alex.
“Rest in Peace, Rush Limbaugh” – Speaking of irreplaceable hosts, Rush Limbaugh is one of the first greats to shed off this mortal coil in the great year 2021. I don’t think anyone can truly replace Rush behind the legendary EIB Golden Mic, but I’m hoping they hire Mark Steyn as a perpetual guest host. “The Rush Limbaugh Show w/ Mark Steyn” has a nice ring to it. That’s a Canadian I can get behind.
That’s it for another macabre edition of Lazy Sunday. Happier retrospectives to come in March.
Dedicating two Lazy Sundays to obituaries is a bit grim, but after Rush Limbaugh’s death last week and a solid week of cold, rainy weather, it seemed appropriate.
As I began looking back at posts about deaths, I was surprised to see I had written several obituaries and memorials (enough to split this retrospective into two parts). 2020 was a particularly difficult year, as we all know, and it took some of the greats with it.
Too many. But, as my blogger and real-life friend Bette Cox noted on my Limbaugh memorial, she doesn’t wish for a peaceful rest, but a joyously busy time in Heaven. I’m sure Rush has a golden mic up there, broadcasting praises to Christ for all eternity. Excellent in Broadcasting, indeed.
“Rest in Peace, Herman Cain” – The Godfather of Godfather Pizza, and one of my favorite political figures of the twenty-first century, Herman Cain was, in some ways, a prelude to Trump: fun, humorous, controversial, down-to-earth, and populist. I loved his “9-9-9” Plan, if for no other reason than it was good marketing (and because of his belief that (to paraphrase) “if 10% is good enough for God, 9% is good enough for the federal government).
Limbaugh—who fans affectionately called Rush (or “El Rushbo”)—pioneered the conservative talk-radio format. After the lifting of the FCC’s Fairness Doctrine in 1987, radio and television no longer were required to present both or all sides of an issue being debated. That made it possible for entire programs to be dedicated to commentary tilted towards one political worldview or another.
Into that new media environment stepped Rush. He was the first of many to seize upon the idea of delivering withering attacks on the Left and Democrats through the format of a three-hour radio program.
The American experiment in self-government is at perhaps its lowest ebb since the 1850s, a decade whose division and partisan rancor rival our own. That decade’s statesmen’s failures to address sectional tensions—and, ultimately, to reconcile two fundamentally incompatible views of the world—resulted in the secession of eleven States that no longer believed the national government was acting in accordance with the Constitution.
It brings me no joy to make such a grim assessment, nor to contemplate what comes next as a result, but it is a necessary task. My sincerest wish is that our great Union remain intact, and that we see some restoration of constitutionalism. An increase in States’ rights and federalism—greater sovereignty at the State level and less power at the federal level—would go a very long way in resolving at least some of our national issues.
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.
President Trump turned last night’s State of the Union Address into prime time television. It was informative, persuasive, and downright entertaining.
Indeed, I can already picture the wags at National Review and other NeverTrump and Trump-skeptical outlets tut-tutting that Trump’s address is “beneath the decorum of the office” and the like. Talk about a bunch of scrooges.
It was a powerful speech. Trump started detailing all of the accomplishments of the past few years, with a specific focus on the improved conditions of black America. That’s a clever way to put the pressure on Democrats: compared to President Obama’s abysmal economic record, President Trump—so often slandered, unfairly, as a “racist”—has done far more to improve the lives of black Americans.