Cabs lined up with engines idling outside Washington's historic Omni Shoreham Hotel about 5 p.m. Saturday afternoon. Drivers were waiting to sweep away thousands of guests who soon would depart the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), but nobody was leaving yet, and so the drivers waited.
"When does Rush speak?" asked a stocky driver in a blue hooded sweatshirt.
"He just started speaking," I answered.
"Oh, man, I wish I could be there," the driver said. "He is great."
He came to America from Nigeria in 1983. A quarter-century later, he now drives his cab in the nation's capital to pay tuition for his daughter, Seun, a freshman biochemistry major at Maryland's St. Mary's College, whose school emblem adorned the blue hoodie Onakoya wore Saturday with paternal pride.
Onakoya has been a loyal Dittohead for years. He explained that not all who ride in his cab appreciate his radio habit of listening to Limbaugh from noon to 3 p.m. weekdays.
"Some people say he is the second coming of the devil," Onakoya said with a deep baritone chuckle.
The driver of Fairway No. 1 said he had often been told such things, but began tuning in regularly after seeing billboard advertisements for Limbaugh's broadcast on WMAL-AM.
"I see the sign and I say, 'I will listen to him.' Since that day, I never change my station.…He is a man, you know," Onakoya said with emphasis. "He is not all wishy-washy."
Onakoya again expressed the wish that he could hear Limbaugh's speech, but the hotel's Regency Ballroom was packed to fire-code capacity, and CPAC attendees also filled two additional ballrooms to watch the speech on closed-circuit TV. Others gathered for the final day of the annual conference were watching on plasma screens in the hotel corridors, in the basement exhibition hall, and in the lobby bar, which was unusually quiet for the occasion. Yet while thousands at CPAC and millions coast-to-coast watched what Rush called his "first address to the nation," the Dittohead cabbie was missing out.
"Come on," I told Onakoya. "I know where you can watch it."
I stubbed out my cigarette, and the driver of Fairway No. 1 followed me through a side door of the hotel into a private hospitality suite hosted by Victory Solutions, a rapidly growing political technology firm. I'd met the company's president, Shannon Burns, while covering last month's RNC meeting, and had gladly acted on his encouragement to bring fellow journalists to enjoy the hospitality suite's amenities during the conference.
The crowd gathered inside the Victory Solutions suite Saturday was watching Limbaugh's speech in respectful silence, and no one noticed as Onakoya and I entered quietly through the side door and stood near the back of the room.
"For those of you just tuning in on Fox News or C-SPAN," the man on the big-screen TV was saying, "I am Rush Limbaugh, and I want everyone in this room, and every one of you around the country, to succeed. I want anyone who believes in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to succeed.…The American people may not all vote as we would wish them to, but more Americans live their lives as conservatives in one degree or another. They are waiting for leadership."
Limbaugh continued speaking, while I went to grab two ice-cold bottled waters and returned to hand one to Onakoya.
"How did the United States of America become the world's lone superpower, the world's economic engine, the most prosperous opportunity for an advanced lifestyle that humanity has ever known? How did this happen? And why, pray tell, does the president of the United States want to destroy it? It saddens me.…
"President Obama is so busy trying to foment and create anger in a created atmosphere of crisis, he's so busy fueling the emotions of class envy that he's forgotten it's not his money he's spending. In fact, the money he's spending is not ours. He is spending wealth that has yet to be created, and that is not sustainable. It will not work."
(Rush Limbaugh is said to be an avid American Spectator reader, but perhaps this is merely further proof that great minds think alike.)
Onakoya applauded along with many others, both in the hospitality suite and in the ballroom, as Rush paid tribute to the greatness of America and her people. And he listened as Limbaugh discussed, with tremendous passion, the human wreckage created by decades of liberal policy and the message of victimhood that Democrats convey to the poor.
"It breaks our heart to see this," Rush said. "We can't have a great country and a growing economy, with more and more people being told…that they have a right to the earnings of others."
From the corner of my eye, through the window, I saw the cab at the head of the queue in front of the Omni Shoreham roll forward to pick up a fare. I nudged Onakoya to indicate that his services were needed outside as the taxi herd was slowly rearranged.
"Thank you so much," the cabbie told me, after we'd pushed through the door and were strolling back toward the driveway. I assured Onakoya that the pleasure was entirely mine, and that it was he who deserved gratitude, not I.
Today at 12:06 p.m., while Fairway Cab No. 1 rolls through the streets of Washington, the taxi's radio will carry the voice of a man who cares more for the opinion of cab drivers than for the praise of elitists. Rush looks at this country's Wally Onakoyas and sees like-minded souls engaged with him in the "relentless pursuit of excellence."
Why do the liberal elitists insist we should see such proudly independent Americans as something else, or something less?
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