This is the week that Rush Limbaugh has passed on to his next adventure. He succumbed to lung cancer at age seventy. His departure leaves a giant hole in the AM conservative radio market.
I first heard Rush on 1500 KSTP AM radio back in the early 1990’s. I was painting garages for a living – great way to use my law degree, I know – when somehow I came across Rush. This was weird since I didn’t listen to AM radio and would not have considered myself conservative. The timing, however, was perfect.
The big story back then was the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Clarence Thomas. I had watched the confirmation hearing and found myself impressed by Thomas. His quiet strength, his strong character, and well spoken remarks on justice and the Constitution. I felt favorable towards him because he seemed like a humble, self made man.
So I was sickened when the high tone of Judge Thomas was dragged into the mud by the last minute smear job by his political opponents. I have nothing against Anita Hill. She was a tool used by the Left to destroy the reputation of a man they could not defeat otherwise. I was disgusted at the unfairness of the situation. And I found myself listening to Rush Limbaugh shredding the Left and their dirty politics and vulgar crassness, and launched a passionate defense of Clarence Thomas that I found myself agreeing with.
Thomas was narrowly confirmed, and I was in a minority of people who thought this was a good thing. Moving onto other issues, Rush Limbaugh really made me rethink some of my beliefs. Yes, he was bombastic and regularly crossed the line with controversial comments. His depiction of feminists as “feminazis” is a case in point. Rush was outspoken in most things he said, and he didn’t apologize. Instead, he laughed as he called out the Democrats – his favorite target – and skewered them with vigorous humor.
Rush was definitely one of a kind. But after a few years I drifted away from him, but not because I disliked him, or disagreed with him. I had just learned enough from him and followed a different path, a path that eventually led me to a radical form of traditional Catholicism that consumed myself and my large family of children. We prayed grace before meals, prayed the Rosary as a family, did litanies and followed the church calendar during Lent and Advent. .
In the end we crashed and burned, The Catholic family I raised and spent my life’s blood on was destroyed by separation and divorce – an example of our own human frailty. As I watched my faith slip away, and saw how my children were turning out – as if they had never had any faith at all – made it easy to feel bitter and disillusioned, or to just feel shattered at how our dream family turned into a nightmare that mocked all the shining ideals we once aspired to.
So my ideals varied from the ideals of Rush Limbaugh. And I don’t agree with some of his positions – just a little too steeply conservative for me. But like him or not, Rush Limbaugh was a force of nature that changed AM radio and spawned a host of conservative radio shows. He objectively had a remarkable career in broadcasting, public speaking, and even king making. He was true to himself and his ideals. He sheltered millions of dispossessed “deplorables” and encouraged them with his forthright personality, his sense of humor, and moral courage. Rush, you sure left your mark on the world. Good luck on your next adventure.