Douglas Andrews / Jan. 5, 2021

Rush Limbaugh Closes Out a Tough Year

In an emotional pre-Christmas broadcast, the conservative icon returned to the microphone to thank his listeners.

“My feelings of great gratitude always surface at the Christmas time of year, and it’s no different this year.”

So said Rush Limbaugh during his December 23 radio show, his last of 2020. “Now, in January of this year, toward the end of the month,” he continued, “I received a … stage 4, advanced lung cancer, terminal diagnosis. … I wasn’t expected to make it to October and then to November and then to December — and yet here I am. Today I’ve got some problems, but I’m feeling pretty good today. God’s with me today. God knows how important this program is to me today, and I’m feeling natural in terms of energy, normal in terms of energy, and I’m feeling entirely capable of doing it today.”

That December 23 show was Rush’s last of 2020. And given the gravity of his diagnosis, it’s unclear how many more shows he’ll do. But on this day, he wouldn’t be kept from thanking his audience. “You have no idea what you all have meant to me and my family,” he said. “The day’s gonna come, folks, where I’m not gonna be able to do this.”

Back in 1992, when his Excellence in Broadcasting Network was still in its infancy, Rush had already settled into a groove — a groove that has lasted more than three decades. “The views expressed by the host on this show,” he’d say, “are not necessarily those of the staff, management, nor sponsors of this station, but they oughta be.”

Not too shabby for the guy who CBS’s Steve Kroft introduced during a “60 Minutes” profile piece as “a twice-divorced college dropout and disc jockey.”

To look back on Kroft’s interview of Limbaugh is to take a trip back in time and to contemplate one’s own mortality. Everyone who remembers the early years of the Clinton administration also remembers the early years of Rush Limbaugh — and also realizes that none of us are as young as we used to be.

Even back then, when his thin-skinned leftist detractors first tried to get him off the air by boycotting his advertisers, Rush could see down the road and around the bend, calling this heightened sensitivity “today’s fascism.”

The secret to his success? “I think I just happen to be saying what a whole lot of people think and don’t have a chance to say themselves.” Spot on.

“I know the liberals call you ‘The Most Dangerous Man in America,’” said Ronald Reagan back in 1992, “but don’t worry about it. They used to say the same thing about me. Keep up the good work.”

And work he did. “I’m trying to attract the largest audience I can,” he said, “and hold it for as long as I can, so that I can charge advertisers confiscatory advertising rates.”

Challenged by Kroft about the violent potential of his words, Limbaugh wasn’t buying it. “If I were of the attitude,” he said, “that my primary goal was to go in that studio every day and make sure that America heard everything I said and acted on it … the ratings of this show would just plummet, because the fun would go, it’d be too serious, it’d be what liberals do. They’re always wringing their hands, not having any time for fun, and being critical of virtually everything.”

“So Rush Limbaugh is behaving like a true conservative,” said Kroft, “placing his faith in free speech if not good taste, and in free enterprise. The marketplace will eventually decide.”

Memo to Mr. Kroft: The marketplace did decide, and it did so a long time ago. Rush won, and the Left lost.

In his 1992 bestseller, The Way Things Ought to Be, Rush closed out his intro chapter with a sentiment that’s as fitting today as it was then. “So, take some advice,” he wrote. “Lighten up. We should all laugh more at ourselves. I don’t need to improve much in this area, but admit it, many of you people do. Many of you take things far too seriously in most cases. Come on, laugh at yourselves, folks. And if you can’t laugh at yourself, turn these pages and laugh at me laughing at you.”

Let’s enjoy him while we can, because his like won’t pass this way again. He’s Rush Limbaugh, he’s El Rushbo, and he’s one of a kind.

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