The Rush Limbaugh Revolution - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
The Rush Limbaugh Revolution
Rush Limbaugh (YouTube screenshot)

What is there to say?

Rush Limbaugh has sadly passed. To say that he will be missed is, to say the least, an understatement.

It is worth noting that Rush’s show made its debut in 1988 — the very year that Ronald Reagan’s presidency was closing in on its 1989 end. Single-handedly Rush took the conservative movement Ronald Reagan had left behind when leaving the presidency and energized it, picking up where Reagan had left off. The Reagan Revolution gave way to the Rush Limbaugh Revolution. He became, as he loved to tease on his show, “The Big Voice on the Right.”

When George H. W. Bush was defeated in 1992, there were people out there who thought Rush’s rising influence was going to crash and burn. In fact, it was exactly the opposite. The rise of the Clintons gave Rush the ability to focus on the essence of liberal/left-wing politics and its effect on American society.

In 1994, he was such an incredible force of nature in making the conservative case that Republicans — for the first time in 40 years — won control of the House of Representatives. It was a stunning upset. So key was his role that the freshman class of Republican congressmen held a dinner in his honor and made him an honorary member of the Class of 1994.

On Sunday night his great friends Mark Levin and Sean Hannity sat down together on Mark’s Fox Life, Liberty and Levin show to talk about their friend.

I confess it was hard to watch at first. The emotion is pretty close to the surface for everybody — Rush’s family, his friends, and his audience. But I repeat myself. Rush considered his audience to be his family and friends. And they — we — all thought the same about Rush.

But Mark plowed ahead, hosting a show that was, as always, the utmost of professionalism while getting to the heart of his topic. He opened by describing his relationship with Rush as that of a brother, descriptions he also used for his friends Sean Hannity and David Limbaugh, Rush’s brother. It has long been clear, as Mark would say, that there was no competition between Rush, Mark, and Sean, talk radio hosts one and all. For anyone who has paid attention to their respective shows there has never been any question that the three were close to one other, and as Mark said, that they rooted for one other.

Sean went into some detail on his first meeting with Rush and spoke about Rush’s passion for helping others to succeed, as he did with both Sean and Mark. Rush never played a “zero-sum game” when it came to his fellow hosts. To the contrary, he celebrated their successes.

Of Mark, Sean noted that Rush respected Mark’s genius in discussing, explaining, and writing about the Constitution. In my own library sits a “Levin shelf” of book after book on the Constitution, the federal judiciary, and more, all, combined with Mark’s radio and now TV shows, designed — effectively designed — to make the complex understandable and to do the deep dive into these important subjects. Which is no small task given the central importance of the Constitution and how relentless have been the attacks from the left in trying to undermine our founding document if not shred and destroy it altogether.

Rush understood exactly what Mark was about, turned to him frequently, and encouraged him to become a talk radio host himself. Without doubt Rush did this kind of thing precisely because at Rush’s core, as Sean noted, was a passionate belief in America as the greatest country in history.

Rush also agreed with President Reagan that freedom was not passed along in the bloodstream, and that part of his job was to not only stand up for freedom himself but to stand up for and encourage the Levins and Hannitys who believed exactly the same thing.

Before Sean came on, Mark talked about the kind of human being Rush was — something that is disgracefully handled in various liberal media obituaries. Rush was constantly helping people he “didn’t even know.”

Mark also told a Rush tale about when the Levins had to put their beloved rescue dog Sprite to sleep, a story in his book Rescuing Sprite. In a conversation with Rush during this period it also emerged that Mark, who had suffered a heart attack, had the opportunity to go for treatment at the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic — but was checking with his insurance company to see if his insurance would cover it.

And in a blink, Rush, unasked, stepped forward. “The hell with insurance,” Mark says Rush responded. “I’ll pay for it. Just go. Do whatever you have to do and let me know how much it is.” This, says Mark, was typical Rush. The very essence of a kind and caring human being.

Over the years I myself had the opportunity to do emails with Rush, always seriously on point about the issue of the moment — and frequently laugh-out-loud funny. I will cherish those memories forever.

It is also important to note the role Rush played in the success of conservative media.

Conservative media had begun slowly, and in print. The birth of William F. Buckley’s National Review in 1955 and the founding of The American Spectator by our own R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. in 1967 got the ball rolling. But it really got rolling when Rush sat down behind his golden EIB microphone with a national radio show in 1988.

More conservative talk shows blossomed. And someone noticed.

In 1992, after the election of Bill Clinton, Rush received this letter:

Now that I’ve retired from active politics, I don’t mind that you have become the Number One voice for conservatism in our Country. I know the liberals call you the most dangerous man in America, but don’t worry about it, they used to say the same thing about me. Keep up the good work. America needs to hear “the way things ought to be.”

The letter was signed, simply, “Ron.”

As Matthew Continetti noted in his National Review article “The Era of Limbaugh”:

In a long and evenhanded cover story in 1993 by James Bowman, National Review pronounced Limbaugh “the leader of the opposition.” Bowman quoted R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr., editor of The American Spectator. “We need to have people who can dramatize ideas,” Tyrrell said. “You need that literary spark. Luigi Barzini had it; Buckley has it. And, though he’s a great talker rather than a great writer, Rush has it too.”

Bob Tyrrell was exactly right. And Rush’s success not only produced the success of Mark Levin and Sean Hannity, it doubtless had a hand in the development of a television version of Rush — first with Rush himself on CNBC that was produced by Roger Ailes, and then, later, with Ailes taking the concept of conservative television into an alliance with Rupert Murdoch and creating Fox News.

Now, as I have said elsewhere, conservative media is everywhere — with Fox, Newsmax, and One America News on television, along with countless talk radio hosts and countless podcasts and internet sites.

So pervasive has Rush’s influence been in the creation of conservative media that, in the wake of his passing, the Washington Examiner is headlining this:

House Democrats push TV carriers to stop hosting Fox, OAN, and Newsmax, citing ‘misinformation’

This jewel of a story says this:

Two House Democrats on Monday questioned 12 television and content providers about why they carry Fox News, One America News Network, and Newsmax, blaming the right-leaning outlets for spreading misinformation and conspiracy theories.

Democratic Reps. Anna Eshoo and Jerry McNerney, both from California, sent letters to television content providers such as AT&T, Roku, Comcast, and Verizon asking them why they carried the three ‘purported’ news outlets that they say function as “misinformation rumor mills and conspiracy theory hotbeds that produce content that leads to real harm.”

The Democrats asked the content carriers if they plan “to continue carrying Fox News, Newsmax, and OANN,” and if so, why.

The letters represent Democrats’ latest reactions to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack by supporters of former President Donald Trump, many of whom, Democrats say, were influenced by Fox News, OANN, and Newsmax.

Rush Limbaugh’s conservative media legacy has become so powerful in a challenge to the liberal media that, quite predictably, there is a fascist-style move to shut it down entirely. There is, but of course, no move to shut down CNN or MSNBC, ABC, CBS, or NBC, all of which spent years pushing the Trump–Russia collusion hoax.

So. Now what?

There was only one Rush Limbaugh. There will never be another. That’s the sad news.

The good news? There is only one Mark Levin and Sean Hannity — not to mention so many, many others who learned from Rush Limbaugh — but they are all still here in fine form, alive and actively leading the way for conservative media. Which, of course, is exactly why the Left wants to silence Mark, Sean, and every other conservative with a platform on television or radio or the internet.

In sum: What a wonderful life was that of Rush Limbaugh. What a seriously consequential life.

For which one can only say from this conservative corner:

Thank you, Rush. Thank you.

And fear not: The Rush Limbaugh Revolution will continue.

Jeffrey Lord
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Jeffrey Lord, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is a former aide to Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. An author and former CNN commentator, he writes from Pennsylvania at His new book, Swamp Wars: Donald Trump and The New American Populism vs. The Old Order, is now out from Bombardier Books.
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