On Ash Wednesday, I left shortly after 11AM for the Noon Mass to get my daily newspapers. I had not heard Rush Limbaugh very often because as everyone knew he was battling stage four lung cancer. During his regular treatments, he used a plethora of substitutes to carry his banner of truth in his absence. After his bumper music or introductory theme ended, I heard the dulcet tones of a female voice. I thought this was unusual. I do not think he ever had a female substitute for him before. However, the host identified herself as a Limbaugh, just not Rush. It was his wife Kathryn. Without hearing her every word, I knew the message was tragic. Rush Limbaugh, my oracle of truth was gone, dead at the age of 70. When I arrived for Mass, I knelt in sadness, said a rosary for his soul and shed a tear or two.
I owe a lot to Rush Limbaugh. I started doing talk radio in 1984, coincidental with Rush Limbaugh’s first big break in Sacramento where he had replaced Morton Downey Jr. who had been summarily fired for making an ethnic joke. There is a delicious irony in this because the man who would become the leading opponent of political correctness and the seismic shift in America’s cultural norms got his big break, indirectly from PC.
I had never heard of Rush Limbaugh until around 1991, when one of my callers on WGNU, the local station where I did a weekly show for 22 years, recommended that I listen to him. The GNU was a unique station in that its owner, an eccentric, named Chuck Norman had approximately 32 different hosts throughout the week that ranged from black power advocates to John Birchers. For my bumper theme, I used several different recordings. For a while I used Carly Simon’s rendition of Nobody Does it Better. However, I had to admit that Rush should have absolute claim to that appellation, so I switched to Rocky’s theme, Gonna Fly Now!
On the station, I represented the Catholic traditionist position. Even though I was on for just two hours a week, I made the most of my time and considered it an additional advanced degree in my education. While the Jesuits at Holy Cross taught me how to think, Rush helped me apply their principles in logic and rhetoric to the real world. In 2006, two years after Chuck died—I was one of his favorites because of my doctorate and trivia skills on air—the station had no need of my talent. I spent the next six years as Phyllis Schlafly’s prime substitute on Saturdays, whenever she was traveling across the country promoting Conservative ideas.
Listening to Rush was a Godsend. His humorous style, creative use of satire and most of all, his analytical ability to put virtually all current events in their proper context, were invaluable to me. He provided me with a wealth of information, bullet points and emphasized the need to do my homework and not just wing it as some hosts invariably did. He made me a much better host than I would ever had been without him.
Rush opened each program with the stream of consciousness perorations that will live forever in his listeners’ minds and hearts. This is Rush Limbaugh, the most dangerous man in America, with the largest hypothalamus in North America, serving humanity by opening my mouth…executing everything I do flawlessly with zero mistakes, doing this show with half my brain tied behind my back just to make it fair, because I have talent on loan from God. It is that last phrase that has stayed with me for nearly 30 years. As bombastic, boastful and pompous as his words may sound at first, that last phrase attributes all of his undeniable talent to God the Father. In its proper context, his hyperbole is a pure act of humility, augmented by serious religious nuances. As for his bombast, the old sage, St. Louis Cardinals’ pitcher Dizzy Dean used to quip, if you can do it, it ain’t braggin’. I believe this is an attitude that we all should adopt because one has to believe in himself because it helps make his arguments more effective.
Rush’s life was filled with failures from the time he realized he hated school. Rush did graduate from Cape Central High School, in Cape Girardeau, which is a few miles north of where I married my late wife Judy in the Missouri Bootheel. He came from a family of Cape lawyers. Both his father and his elderly grandfather, who practiced until he was 102, were attorneys. Rush was the family outlier, ever since he had gotten bitten by the radio bug when he was 16. Maybe to help him get over his silly notion, his father paid for a course in radio broadcasting that year. From then on that was all he ever wanted to do in his life. He worked in a local station after school. Still the family encouraged him to attend Cape State. He lasted less than a full year, virtually flunking every subject, including speech. Formal learning was just not for him but over the years he became a serious autodidact, converse on many different subjects.
Rush’s early career was characterized by rejections and frustration. He was given seven pink slips and for one brief period he left the microphone for a job in the front office with the Kansas City Royals baseball team. Never a womanizer to my knowledge, Rush was a failure at marriage. During his string of job failures, he had two failed marriages. His second wife complained that he was boring and all he wanted to do was watch the Pittsburgh Steelers play football on Sundays. Even during his successful years he was married twice for a total of 20 years, roughly ten with each spouse, including his fourth wife, Kathryn who survives him and continues to promote his legacy.
Rush was raised in a Christian home with high moral and religious standards. His younger brother David, whom I had coffee with in a Cape bookstore in the 1990s, was a devout Christian and has written many books on the culture war and Christianity. He is a partner is a law firm in Cape and one can easily find the Limbaugh building on one of its main streets in town.
I met Rush, just one time in person. It was at a promotional affair for his station, KMOX, the most powerful radio station in the Midwest according to some accounts. It was not much more than a casual handshake and a few words of exchange. The best part was the photo that they took of us with him holding a copy of my book, Liberalism: Fatal Consequences, which I presented to him during our few moments together. Our framed picture graces the wall about six feet from me now. No one had ever explained the consequences of the pernicious philosophy of liberalism better than did Rush Limbaugh, especially the heinous institution of abortion.
While Rush never fathered any of his own children, he just loved kids, especially their innocence. I remember listening to him describe his avuncular affection for David’s first child, a tiny, little girl. Rush fawned over his niece like a guardian angel, ready to slaughter any dragon who had the temerity to invade her space. Consequently, it is unsurprising that Rush was a tireless protector of the unborn whose cause he adopted early in his career in Sacramento. He later used what he called caller abortions to satirize what Hannah Arendt called the banality of evil in his reference to the slaughter of the innocents. He dramatized an abortion, using the sound effects of a vacuum cleaner cutting off an unwanted caller. Of course, one might say that it was crude but then so are abortions. I have seen photographs of mangled fetal corpses, red, crumpled and monstrous looking. These photos were not the product of a sick or deranged mind. They documented the reality of what abortion is.
Rush and I had one very personal thing in common, aside from our similar cultural views. I had been losing my hearing progressively for 30 years until I finally had a cochlear implant in my worse ear in September of 2020. Rush lost all his hearing quickly, more than likely from his abuse of the addictive painkiller OxyContin. On the air he spoke from the heart about how difficult it was for him to deal with his affliction. He said that being deaf is the only handicap that makes people mad. He was right on the mark with this comment because deaf or hard-of-hearing people look without handicap, unlike the blind and people with canes or wheelchairs. They often get irritable when I have to ask them to repeat what I thought I heard. I have had some yell at me…what are you deaf?!? So it was comforting for me to hear him express something that I had been feeling for years. On a broader scale that is precisely what Rush did with world events. He did not tell us what to think, as does the Left, especially college professors but he validated and expressed clearly what we were already thinking. This was part of his genius.
Rush also served as the forerunner of Donald Trump’s short-lived presidency. Rush had been promoting American Exceptionalism for most of his broadcast career. It had been engrained in his DNA by his strong family. Rush was a talking personification for what has made America great. Donald Trump patched into that idea in a political way as no one else ever had dared to do since Ronald Reagan. Without Rush to prepare the way, Trump’s candidacy probably would never have never succeeded. I mean that is a very complimentary way because Trump was good for America. It was the purveyors of hatred for this country and its believers that attempted to destroy his presidency, even before he had been nominated. That is not surprising, due to the divisiveness that eight years of Barack Obama had fostered. Unlike so many Republican candidates, who lacked a spinal column, I am thinking, Bob Dole, John McCain and Mitt Romney, Trump, despite his many personal flaws, knew how to take the fight to the left. No one else could have ever done what he did.
Trump’s promises and his rhetoric were genuine. No politician on the right has made such herculean efforts to fulfill his campaign promises, especially in defending the unborn. It was as if the former liberal had a character transformation. Rush helped people see that Trump’s makeover had been in earnest. They made a great team in my opinion. The country is faced with a real crucible, now that they have both been removed from the national scene, at least for now in the case of Donald Trump.
There is always hope. God works in mysterious ways. I have seen His provincial hand in both the life of Rush Limbaugh and the presidency of Donald Trump. The banner of keeping America great is left to their survivors. God only knows what will happen under the Biden presidency. Satanic forces have been diligently at work in our body politic since the Progressive, read Marxist, administrations of Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. For example our tax code is based on ideas found in The Communist Manifesto, published by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in 1848. It also includes the public school system and a Central Bank,
In the last 100 years, we have seen the decline of public and private morality, the deemphasis on traditional marriage, vast co-habitation, broken homes, divorce, single moms, drug addiction and the pursuit of, not happiness but pleasure for pleasure’s sake. The fears of 1984 have materialized as honest journalism has transformed into a Ministry of Truth, running interference for the Left. However, I see our society evolving into more of Aldous Huxley’s 1932 novel, Brave New World. This seems to be the prevalent attitude in BNW with its Fordism, feelies, soma and uninhibited sexual promiscuity, where traditional people are the Savages. The rest of the country is fast becoming a nation of Woke and emotionally dependent adolescents, ruled by an elite, even more sinister than Big Brother’s autocratic dystopia. Without Rush and an active Donald Trump we need the Hand of God more than ever.