Sad news breaking this morning of the passing of Rush Limbaugh, of lung cancer, at the age of 70. He made it clear in recent shows that he was in his final days, yet nonetheless continued on as best he could on the air with his usual brio. He reminds me of Peter Schramm, who was teaching in the classroom up to the day before he died of terminal cancer back in 2015, because, as Peter put it to me, “If I’m not in the classroom with students I’m not living.” Rush felt the same bond with his audience, and kept faith with them right up to the last.
Not sure I have told the story here before of listening to Limbaugh in the mid-1980s when he was on local radio in Sacramento, and not believing how great he was. And when I heard he was moving to New York in 1988 to launch a national show, I was certain he would be a huge hit. I got to tell him about being an early listener once on a telephone call (we had a long conversation on my second Reagan book when it came out in 2009), and he was genuinely flattered that I was an original “dittohead.” And I was always flattered in return whenever he quoted something from me that appeared on Power Line, which he did several times.
I only met him in person once, early in his national career around 1990, when he passed through LA on one of his speaking tours, and National Review invited me to join Limbaugh and Charlton Heston for a small meeting over in west LA. I don’t remember the meeting much at all, but I do remember drinks at the bar afterward, including trying to convince Heston that he should run for the U.S. Senate in California. “You can’t do Shakespeare in the Senate,” he complained. (Heston did Shakespeare on stage in London in the summer back then.)
Limbaugh can’t be replaced, full stop. There is no one else remotely like him. I had forgotten that I spoke some months ago to the Washington Times for their pre-prepared obituary of Rush, in which I said: “The political history of the last 30 years would have been different without him and his huge audience. There are many other fine conservative radio hosts, but Rush stands apart. He was the Babe Ruth and Tom Brady of talk radio.”
Look for two things today: the left will react on Twitter and elsewhere with their usual lack of grace which you should ignore as best you can, and second, Tucker Carlson will now be the principal focus of the left’s demonization and paranoia.
Oh, wait—that’s already happening:
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