Back in 1992, I read Rush Limbaugh's book "The Way Things Ought to Be." I had been a listener of Limbaugh's for a few years at that point, and I enjoyed Limbaugh's theatrics and his unique point of view, but it was the book which was a revelation.
The book was simply another way for Rush Limbaugh to make money. He was selling Conservatism. I'm not saying whether that, on principle, was a good or a bad thing, I'm telling you that was Rush Limbaugh. He was a salesman that, for the next 30 years, beat that Conservative Drum. He would brag that he was Right 99% of the time, yet that was in his own mind. In reality, he LEANED politically to the Right at that percentage.
What I didn't say is that he lived Conservatism. Rush would brag that he knew liberals like the back of his glorious hand. The problem is, after a few years you knew, more or less, what Rush was going to say. His charm was, despite knowing his angle, you still tuned in. You loved him because you were a Conservative too, or you hated him because he reminded you of your Uncle who said the same rotten things. His disdain for R(h)inos was legendary and Rush was very clear that he was selling Conservatism, and not Republicanism. I eventually tuned Rush Limbaugh out, his spiel wore thin with me when weighed against his personal life.
Addiction to "Hillbilly Heroin:" For years and years, Limbaugh repeated the refrain, "too many whites are getting away with drug use. The answer is to... find the ones who are getting away with it, convict them, and send them up the river." The one thing Rush couldn't afford to do in his personal life was drugs. Not only was he addicted to Prescription Pain Medicine, he did enough to "kill an elephant." (Both quotes from Newsweek.) Rush was remorseful when he faced the judge, but people forget that he sued to keep his medical records private. An unusual effect of opioids, hearing loss is well-described in acute overdose, short-term use, and chronic abuse. Patients with opioid-associated hearing loss usually describe a precipitous onset of unilateral or bilateral hearing loss, which can become profound. "Coincidentally," when Rush lost his hearing, he claimed to not know the cause. Just like for years he stated that there was no direct correlation between cigarettes and cancer. He often joked of his formally nicotine stained fingers, but went on to grace the cover of Cigar Aficionado magazine. Official cause of death? Lung Cancer.
Family: How would Rush Limbaugh describe a political opponent who was childless and married four times in his 60's? Let's just leave that as "not conservative" and proceed without more speculation.
Reverence of Donald Trump: I'll keep saying it, Donald Trump was a populist. Rush Limbaugh longed for the next Ronald Reagan that never came. Donald Trump was good at yelling at Liberals like Nancy Pelosi, not implementing a Conservative agenda. Yes, Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett, but overall his Conservative credentials were inconsistent. Look up Fiscal Conservative and then look at the American debt over the past 4 years. Screaming at CNN doesn't make you Conservative, it just makes you sparring partners. Again, more theater.
Just weeks before Rush's death, Matt Lewis wrote the article, Why 2020 Was Terrible for Honest Conservatives. I can respond to that piece in one sentence: Because Rush Limbaugh was tricked by Donald Trump.
You remember this iconic Donald Trump photo?
Donald Trump used the Bible as a prop during the George Floyd unrest. That moment was symbolic of his Presidency. Did Trump actually get caught in a church, quietly praying to God for guidance? No. He grabbed a photographer and created a photo op. Even more ironically, Trump's lawyers were still in litigation with Stormy Daniels for violating a non-disclosure agreement when the photo was taken. Do you think that Donald Trump ever prayed for anything in his life?
That's the guy Rush Limbaugh accepted the Medal of Freedom from. A businessman, not a Conservative.
Rush Limbaugh would do anything to defeat liberalism and he hitched his wagon to a modern day P. T. Barnum.
But Rush didn't feel tricked, I am telling you, as the author of this piece, that history will show that he was tricked. I think Rush Limbaugh was genuinely happy near his death. He seemed at peace with his life decisions as some cited his net worth as high as a half a billion dollars. He was heard on over 600 radio stations and 25 million people every week. And, it could be argued, he was the greatest radio talk show host in the history of the medium. By every American metric, he was a success.
Deep down though, Rush sold his soul for one last fight. Not figuratively, literally. He didn't just want to defeat liberals in the "arena of ideas," he wanted Conservatives to show passion and to take to the streets, like the Left had done on so many occasions.
When the Capitol Riots came Rush said:
"There's a lot of people calling for the end of violence, there's a lot of conservatives, social media, who say that any violence or aggression at all is unacceptable. Regardless of the circumstances. I'm glad Sam Adams, Thomas Paine, the actual tea party guys, the men at Lexington and Concord didn't feel that way."
History is NOT going to view the Capitol Riot Squad as the modern incarnations of Revolutionary War Patriots.
Not even close.
As a free speech advocate, I am sad. Rush Limbaugh was quite a character who spurred debate.
A Hall of Fame Broadcaster who was intriguing when selling Conservatism, much of Trump's bombast toward Liberals was well deserved. But, in the end, Rush's greatest sin was partisanship. I don't think Limbaugh ever found fault with those claimed to espouse Conservatism on his side of the aisle. He died as another partisan hack. For those on the Left celebrating his death, you are showing your partisan colors and are the first to howl when anyone criticizes one of your heroes. Rush Limbaugh was a human being with strengths and weaknesses, just like us all. And he was great.
So you or I may speak of Rush dying as a rich, partisan hack, but very few of us have been great. For those who curse him and care about money, he made more of it than you.