(This a two-part article on the one-year anniversary of the passing of Rush Hudson Limbaugh III)
Through the vision of Ed McLaughlin, Rush began his meteoric rise in radio straight to the top. Broadcasting from the 17th floor at WABC in New York City, Rush used his unique ‘talent on loan from God’ to forge a path for many of the top names in the industry today. Those that credit him for paving the way to their own success reads like a who’s who of talk radio, conservative commentators, and media moguls. Many of whom contributed to James Golden’s tribute (aka “Bo Snerdley”) to Rush posthumously, which can be heard on iHeart Radio.
Names like Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, and Neal Bortz, to name a few. Beck was in awe of how quickly Rush took over the airwaves in becoming ‘America’s Anchorman’: “The initial offering (of syndication) was two hours a day (in 1988). Rush had 56 stations as true believers and loyal affiliates from day one.” Beck went on to share about the early days in syndication: “In a matter of months…the shows growth was unstoppable, reaching an unprecedented 500 affiliates!” Neal Bortz was always in awe of the honors and accolades for Rush so early in his career, including his induction into the National Radio Hall of Fame. “After only five years of syndication, and record-breaking success, he became part of a prestigious class of inductees in 1993.“
Before his induction into the Hall, Rush played an integral part in the 1992 presidential election. Many believe his success was in part due to the outcome of this election. But whatever the case, the Rush Limbaugh Show could not be ignored in the days leading up to the election of Bill Clinton. Rush provided an element that presented a challenge to the upstart former governor of Arkansas. “Here are the Clintons admitting their paranoia,” Rush recalled, “because they didn’t know how to deal with a non-supportive media. And all it was, was just me on the radio…and they’re acting like it is the biggest threat to their existence ever.”
Mary Matalin credited Rush with influencing the race so greatly that, despite Clinton’s victory in November, Rush brought the rise of what became known as The Republican Revolution. “Rush’s political savvy, combined with an uncanny, reality based ability to make the complex understandable, helped the Party of Reagan get back on track.” The 1994 election gave the Republicans a majority in the House for the first time in half a century.
“He knew what real liberalism, legacy socialism was…He knew the whole thread of history that lead to liberalism, and understood how it became a racket, and how it transited (sic) the globe. This is why he knew what the Democrats were going to do before we knew what was going on.”Republican Political Strategist, Guest Host, and Personal friend of Rush, Mary Matalin
After the Clinton years, Rush guided the conservative movement into the next century with an unapologetic message that remained true to his Reagan roots. He handled so many monumental events with candidness and authenticity that only could be found on his show. He put his heart into his show. He gave everything to his listeners. It wasn’t just about ratings for Rush. It was about defining a movement and staying true to that message- critics be damned!
For most of this century, Rush had established himself as the voice on the Right that so many would turn to navigate us through the generational changes we would soon be facing in America. Whether I agreed with everything he spoke or not during those years, I always made sure to tune in. And whenever there was a monumental event that happened, or was about to happen, I would remain glued to my radio, computer, or whatever streaming device I could pick up his show at that time. There was the narrow victory of George W. Bush, 9/11, the Iraq War, and historic victory of Barack Obama in 2008.
During the Obama years, Rush continued to raise our collective awareness of the dangers of policies that came out of the Obama Administration. He could clearly see that we were moving away from the beliefs and attributes that made America great. This is when he witnessed the rise of a candidate for president that was focused on just that- making America great again. And he took to candidate Donald J. Trump like no other president since his hero, Ronald Reagan.
Then, on February 3, 2020, the day before President Trump’s State of the Union Address, Rush shocked the world by announcing on air that he had stage-4 lung cancer. The news was devastating to the millions of adoring fans in his listening audience. For the first time, even though we wanted to believe he would defeat it, most of us had to accept that he wouldn’t be around forever. And you would think that with all he had accomplished, Rush Limbaugh would take the wealth, fame and many accolades, and call it a career. But that was never a thought in his mind.
President Trump responded to this news by showing him the greatest honor any civilian can be awarded from a sitting president. An incredible story in and of itself, Rush was summoned by the president as a special guest on February 4, 2020, the day in which Donald Trump gave his annual State of the Union address. It was here that he announced at the US Capitol, before all members of Congress, that Rush would be receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom. (See photos below). What an incredible moment this was for Rush, and everyone that recognized what he has meant to millions of Americans.
But now, with the country on the verge of a pandemic that would all but shutdown society as we know it, Rush continued putting out great content show after show. He never focused on his illness and the devastation to the body when subjected to chemotherapy. Though he had to miss a good number of shows for said treatment, he pressed on as a wounded warrior would in battle. That is how I would define Rush after this experience: a warrior. His mission or (as one famous commentator would say in remembrance of Rush) his bucket list, as it were, was to give everything he had to his listeners until he could no longer go on with it.
“We are not in a battle over who is going to win every four years. We’re not in a battle over who is going to run the Senate or the House. The battle we are in is virtually and literally about ‘Will this remain the United States of America as founded?’. That is what is being waged.”Rush Hudson Limbaugh III
So how did Rush alter the course of my life as I stated in my last writing? In so many ways. But I will attempt to abbreviate my response, as I would need many more pages to do it justice:
He challenged me to critically think about the America I loved, but never really knew why I loved it. He helped me see that there were issues, decisions, and events that shaped our nation to become what it is- good, bad, or otherwise. He helped a kid see that the conservative movement held many virtues in which I already identified with, despite the fact I was raised in a JFK-democrat, classic liberal household. He challenged me to get involved in the movement in a more affective and meaningful way. To make a difference. And he taught me about success and to never give up on being the best you can be at whatever you do.
Many of his detractors never saw him in this light. They only saw the entertainer, the guy with the schtick and penchant to ridicule an entire ideology that millions embraced. But, as they say, that’s entertainment. They didn’t see the warmth of the human behind the mic. The depth of his charitable giving that lives on today. The respect and kindness he displayed to individuals whether he agreed with them or not. It’s too bad. That last trait is the one probably lacking the most in our country right now. He was decent, yet flawed. But he never hid from those flaws. He always answered his detractors over controversies that he was embroiled in because of a corporate media that hated him.
That last year proved a lot about the man Rush was. I’ll always admire how hard he fought while continuing his craft. But I am also truly grateful that he drew close to God in his last few years. He shared about this more often, how he leaned on his Savior who helped him through this incredibly difficult time.
Here is what Rush said in regards to his relationship with Christ, on his broadcast from October 19, 2020:
“I thank God that I did. I try to make it the best day I can no matter what. I don’t look too far ahead. I certainly don’t look too far back. I try to remain committed to the idea what’s supposed to happen, will happen when it’s meant to. I mentioned at the outset of this — the first day I told you — that I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
“It is of immense value, strength, confidence, and that’s why I’m able to remain fully committed to the idea that what is supposed to happen will happen when it’s meant to. There’s some comfort in knowing that some things are not in our hands. There’s a lot of fear associated with that, too, but there is some comfort. It’s helpful… God, is it helpful. It’s helpful to be able to trust and to believe in a higher plan.”
Rush left behind a country and their people that meant everything to him. He knew the uncertainty we were facing after Joe Biden was elected. Many of those that loved Rush liked to think he held on through the 2020 election because of what Donald Trump meant to the future of America. I did too. Rush fought the good fight for his country by mobilizing citizens to act. We need that action and his spirit to win the next battle for the heart and soul of this nation. And I believe the faith he discovered towards the end of his life was even more important than the words he shared with us about this great land, and the movement he had defined. We will need to lean into our faith more than ever to restore the nation, and reverse the trend of the past decade. May the talent that went home to be with God live on through us, and help us keep our liberties and restore the sovereignty of America.
(Chris Gaines is an author and editor for patriotgaines.com)
Story sources: Rush Limbaugh: The Man Behind the Golden EIB Microphone, hosted by James Golden (aka “Bo Snerdley”) for iHeart Radio, LA Times, and rushlimbaugh.com
Photo sources: rushlimbaugh.com, AP, Fox News, and iheart.com
Visit Rush Limbaugh’s foundation and the many charities that he still provides for in his passing by clicking here. Support Tunnel to Towers, as James Golden has shared throughout his series on iHeart Radio.
2 thoughts on “‘Doctor of Democracy’: The Legend and Legacy of Rush Limbaugh (Pt 2)”
This is a great homage to a great man and I hope others will see this. I watched on TV when Trump awarded Rush the Presidential Medal of Freedom. I can think of no greater honor. As always, beautifully written, Chris.
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Doing the research on this was a labor of love. But also was quite a nostalgia trip. It’s nice to write about more pleasant topics. This has to rate as one of my faves. Nostalgia is a powerful drug, indeed.
Appreciate the comments and the read, as always.