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Davis Journal

Limbaugh was boisterous, but not a true conservative

Mar 01, 2021 12:22PM ● By Anna Pro

 The death last week of syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh brought a deluge of comments.  A friend of mine teared up, calling his death a sad day for America, whereas another friend rudely summed up his death as “the best news of 2021.”

Rush was called both a “trailblazer” and “the worst type of human being.”  An employee of one of my customers carved out an employment agreement allowing him to leave the workplace, walk to his vehicle and listen to Rush’s radio program in lieu of lunch or work breaks.  To many Rush was Mr. Conservative; to others he was a bloated right-wing nut.

While I don’t mourn the passing of Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, or Ted Bundy, I’m saddened by the death of most people including Rush.  He should go into the history books.  But I don’t think he and the brand of talk radio he ushered in was good for America.

The editorial director of a Utah newspaper who hosts a KSL-Radio program generally celebrated Limbaugh and said he was disturbed by the snide comments of Rush’s opponents.  Mean, rude comments, said the KSL personality, do not unite the country.

Ironically, Rush Limbaugh did his very best to divide, not unify, Americans.  Rush mocked Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s Disease tremors…He laughed at dying AIDS patients…He called Chelsea Clinton a “dog”…He routinely called liberal women activists “sluts” and prostitutes.

He shamed women who had made the personal decision to have an abortion by turning on a blender mimicking the “murder of their baby”…He made fun of a grieving Gold Star family whose son was killed in action…He told his followers that Barack Obama was an illegitimate president who was born in Africa, not Hawaii.  

His calling card was partisanship, not unity.  There are many issues harboring truth on all sides, demanding statesmanship and compromise.  For instance, immigration policy should see the difference between a drug dealer racing across the border and a 17-year old Latino born in Honduras and brought to the U.S. as a baby now applying to attend college.  But Rush’s crusade was blunt and narrow.  He disdained compromise and pitted “real Americans” against “Hollywood types and college-educated elitists.”

Granted, he voiced the fury of mostly blue-collar and rural Americans who felt left out of the shifts in the national culture.  He indeed had his finger on the pulse of his “forgotten hard-working patriots.”  But simply because a white warehouse worker in Indiana is angry at gay couples getting married or a Black woman being promoted at his bank doesn’t mean his view should be celebrated on 600 radio stations as the “real voice” of America. 

Rush turned political issues into entertainment, an underlying reason for his popularity.  But tough challenges cannot be met with “my-way-or-the-highway” sarcasm, an easy-to-digest soup for Rush’s “real Americans.”

To me, Rush wasn’t a true conservative.  Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan, George Will, and David Brooks embrace true conservatism.  Compared to them, Rush was simply an opportunist, a carnival barker to his self-described ditto-heads.