I have learned much from listening to Rush Limbaugh to the extent that I have been able to catch his great radio show over the years. He is a man of great perception and insight that he communicates in the style of a born teacher. I have loved his show from the first moment I caught it during the Clarence Thomas confirmation ordeal in 1991. When Rush celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of his radio show in August 2018, congratulations were in order and President Trump called in to extend his.
In a perceptive 2011 Commentary essay Bill McClay presented what I call the critique of pure Rush. Bill had it right at the time: “[Rush] is never quite acknowledged as the formidable figure he clearly is.” Events, however, have overtaken this observation. Trump himself put it this way in his 2018 call to Rush: “What you do for this country — people have no idea how important your voice is.” And now, thanks to Trump, the Presidential Medal of Freedom makes the point.
Following up on the news of Rush’s illness and the recognition he was accorded at the State of the Union address last week, Matt Continetti took the measure of Rush in his column “The era of Limbaugh.” Getting Rush right is a difficult task in an emotional moment, but Matt pulled it off. He observes, for example: “It’s one thing to excel in your field. It’s another to create the field in which you excel.” He concludes: “The American right has been molded in his anti-elitist, grassroots, demotic, irreverent, patriotic, hard-charging image. Rush Limbaugh is not just a broadcaster. He defines an era.” Highly recommended.