Rush Limbaugh, RIP

“Impeachment season 2” is now behind us. I give my review of this shortened season (short due to no investigation episodes and because no witnesses were called).

And one of the greats of talk radio, Rush Limbaugh, has passed away. He was a pioneer in his field, bringing conservative views and explaining them in a way that we could all understand them.

Mentioned links:

Senate Impeachment Trial: January 6 Video Montage

Rush Limbaugh, conservative talk radio pioneer, dead at 70

New Jersey man explains how he made 14-foot Lincoln snow sculpture

Chicago Lists Lincoln Statues Among Monuments to Review

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Show transcript

Impeachment season 2 has come and gone. It ended the same way but there was a little more drama this time. They had to include that because, as I said a few weeks ago, they shortened the season by skipping the episodes about the actual investigation to determine if a crime had even been committed. Essentially the grand jury met and immediately voted to indict the defendant. I give it two and a half stars. This was no Perry Mason.

OK, enough of the TV analogy. Here’s what happened. The Democrats in the House of Representatives wanted this fast-tracked, presumably to try to get Donald Trump out of office before he brokered another Middle East peace deal. So without a single shred of forethought or due process, they got a majority in the House to quickly vote to impeach Trump a second time. But instead of quick-marching the one article of impeachment over to the Senate, instead of bringing it on Wednesday afternoon, they waited until the following Monday, postponing the Senate trial by 6 days. (Since they brought them over on Monday, the Constitution requires that the trial begin at 1pm the following day, Tuesday, 6 days after the impeachment vote.) Yeah, so much for the supposed urgency. And in the meantime, Trump’s term ended.

When the Senate trial started, one of the big things they led off with was a montage – one might call it a “heavily edited video” – that cut between Trump using the word “fight” in a sentence and shots of the horrific Capitol riot. Now, I went back and watched it while preparing for this episode and it was gut-wrenching all over again. But it was what I see a lot of arguments from the Left are; a 13-minute appeal to emotion, not to be confused with an appeal to the law. You know what they didn’t show? Donald Trump saying to go to the Capitol and cheer on those Republicans doing what Trump wanted. They didn’t show Trump telling them to peacefully and patriotically protest at the Capitol. If he intended to incite, he was doing it wrong. If reciting the same rhetoric about a stolen election (that he had been claiming for 2 months) was incitement, the word has changed meaning recently (which, I guess, is quite possible as many other words have like “racist”, “tolerance”, and “woman”). Oh, and no witnesses were called, I guess to go with no investigation. A year ago, Chuck Shumer said an impeachment trial without witnesses was a sham. So, was Chuck even trying this time?

Trump was ultimately acquitted, but since he was acquitted for something who’s legal definition wouldn’t be enough to convict him in court, the concerning thing is how many would vote for conviction, especially since he wasn’t, as I said, given due process. And to those who say that impeachment doesn’t require that a law be broken, you’re right, but maybe refrain from using legal terms in the future. If you want to impeach a President because he’s a poo-poo head and doesn’t do what you want him to do, just come out and say it. But I don’t think you can say that Trump got away with something because, well, he didn’t.

The voice that reinvigorated the AM band and the talk radio genre has left the building. Rush Limbaugh lost his battle with lung cancer and died on February 17th at age 70. Love him or hate him, there’s no doubt that he left a mark on the media and conservative thought that was historic.

I believe that his show took off for two reasons. One is that he was unafraid to mock those he disagreed with. Conservatives have been mocked in popular culture for decades and he was very willing to take an irreverent look at ideas he thought deserved it. In Limbaugh parlance, he was “demonstrating absurdity by being absurd”. A classic example from the early days of Rush was regarding the issue of abortion. One day, while a caller was talking, Rush hung up on him while playing the sound effect of a vacuum cleaner. He called it a “caller abortion”; a viable phone call was interrupted and disposed of. Hey, it’s his show, his choice, right? Rush played this for laughs. Pretty soon, people were calling in and asking to be aborted. But also, people started calling in very mad that he was making light of abortion, and he should stop these caller abortions because they were crude and upsetting. After a couple days of this, Rush got to the point. He made the observation that people were getting very upset over what was, admittedly, a crude comedy bit. But he also observed that those same people, all in knots about callers being cut off to the sound of a vacuum, did not have that same level of concern for the deaths of millions of babies who were sucked out of their mothers’ wombs, though they hadn’t done anything wrong. He demonstrated the absurdity of the pro-abortion position by being absurd.

But Rush was a lot more than his comedy, whatever you thought of it. If you listened regularly, his analysis of the day’s events was often spot-on. It was slanted and insightful but it was not something you’d hear too much of, especially in the 80s and 90s. And that’s the second reason I think his show was a huge hit from the beginning; conservative opinions were scarce at that time and so he was a breath of fresh air to those who the media had convinced were outliers and outcasts . Other national conservatives came along – on the radio and cable news – and the Internet with all its choices, but Rush kept going and going. He’s been the #1 or #2 most listened to national talk show host for as far back as they’ve been keeping track of the numbers. When Air America came on to try to elbow out conservatives with a liberal network of hosts, Limbaugh (and actually most of conservative talk in general) outlasted them.

I have one personal story about Rush; not that I ever met him, but this is about my dad. He listened to Rush every chance he got and I remember one time we were sitting out on the back patio of our house with the radio on. Rush was getting upset about Democrats wasting time with meaningless resolutions that did nothing but make Republicans vote for or against them. These votes might make them look bad, but my dad said he disagreed with stopping that. He said that when the time came, he wanted Republicans to be able to do it. So, this isn’t so much about what Rush himself said, but how, while listening to him, I got a lesson from my dad about putting the shoe on the other foot. In a way, he was teaching me to consider this.

So thanks dad for the lesson, and thanks Rush Limbaugh for making it happen.

Filed under: ImpeachmentMedia