In 1984 a pudgy disc jockey from Cape Girardeau, Missouri named Rush Limbaugh was given the chance to air his Right-wing political commentary on a local radio station in Sacramento, California. It was the year Ronald Reagan swept to victory over Walter Mondale. Angry phone calls and letters ensued. Limbaugh was almost fired until the station’s ratings began to show steady improvement. By 1988 he was syndicated nationally. He moved to New York City, where he broadcast to millions during the George H.W. Bush-Michael Dukakis campaign. Pundits have tried to dissect how Bush rose from 17 points behind that summer to a comfortable eight-point margin of victory. They could do worse than analyzing the effect of Rush Limbaugh.
He was a huge hit in Sacramento and on KFI in Los Angeles. In liberal San Francisco he enraged listeners, but he made KNBR the biggest ratings winner in town. Left-wing commentators were weeping and gnashing their teeth, relegated to the midnight time slot while Limbaugh dominated drive time first in California, then in New York, then everywhere, including the Armed Forces Radio Network. By the 1990s he was a phenomenon. He was featured on 60 Minutes, in all the major publications, had a TV show in addition to his radio program, and wrote bestselling books. He was extravagantly wealthy. His influence among Republicans and the conservative base was beyond all previous figures with the exception of Reagan. The Left said Limbaugh lied, and ipso facto, because he lied, therefore his show would not last very long.
More than two decades later, the results are indisputable. If in fact lying will catch up to somebody in Limbaugh’s position, causing them disgrace, firing, dismissal, low ratings, and all other manner of public failure, then either Limbaugh does not lie, or he has gotten away with lying, never having been actually caught despite protestation from his enemies that what he says is not true.
This set of circumstances leaves the left in a discomfiting position, forced to contemplate a Platonic fact of political science, as with analysis of the South. In all the years they were “ignorant” and “racist” they voted Democrat. Over time as they modernized, became educated, acquired knowledge, facts and actual information, they were husbanded into the mainstream by the GOP and, therefore, voted Republican. This is the sort of straight-forward bit of pure information that is not opinion but rather manifests itself as the thing one knows when they learn all there is about it!
So too with Limbaugh. If the Left was correct, that a liar will be caught, disgraced and humbled, then sent away never to be heard from again, then ipso facto, the fact Limbaugh thrives more now than ever verifies their most horrid reality, which is that he is right, they are wrong, and worse yet, millions of patriotic citizens who register and vote possess this knowledge.
Republican winning streaks cannot be solely attributed to Rush Limbaugh. Conservatives at least think the Founding Fathers were basically . . . conservative. Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, if read today by somebody not knowing it was written in the 1830s, would probably be called a “conservative manifesto” placing too much of America’s success on Christianity. The GOP dominated after the Civil War, from Abraham Lincoln to Theodore Roosevelt. They presided over the Roaring ‘20s and the 1950s. They won big 1966 mid-terms, and Richard Nixon won by an astonishing margin in 1972. Reagan won big in 1980 and by massive sweeps in 1984, when Limbaugh was unknown outside Sacramento.
But the Republicans held power more regularly, and recovered from disaster faster, during the age of Limbaugh than they ever hoped to before him. Bush defied historical odds going back to 1840 when he succeeded his boss in 1988. The 1994 GOP mid-term sweeps were almost beyond comprehension. George W. Bush defeated a sitting Vice President with the wind at his sails in 2000, saw his party totally buck historical trends to win in 2002, and won more votes than any President in American history in 2004. Limbaugh’s influence on the ’94 mid-terms and all of young Bush’s successes is impossible to deny, but perhaps most distressing to his detractors is the fact that he always reaches the apex of his popularity, power and influence when the Democrats are in power. He rode the Bill Clinton Impeachment like a Colossus, and in 2010 unquestionably led the repudiation of Barack Hussein Obama, possibly the most complete, jarring, tidal wave of rejection any sitting President has ever endured.
The Powers That Be, the likes of Bill Paley, Arthur Sulzberger, Otis Chandler, Phil Graham and Henry Luce profiled in David Halberstam’s marvelous 1979 epic on the American media, were now the powers that were. A new wind blew a new sheriff, an entirely new culture, into town. In the shifting history and impact of communications, movements and the media, the powers that are had arrived. These powers would take on different guises and names. Call them Rupert Murdoch, News Corporation and Fox News. Call them the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post. Call them the Christian Right and Matt Drudge. But before any of these powers, there was Rush Limbaugh and conservative talk radio. The influence and change ushered in by this single individual can be compared to few things in history. It was a seismic shift in the landscape of politics, the media and, as Limbaugh calls it, the “dominant media culture” of liberal-leaning news and entertainment. For the likes of Luce, Graham, Paley and so many of the old guard it certainly would have been impossible to predict and less possible to believe that so much influence could emanate from a single “golden E.I.B. microphone,” as Limbaugh joked of his self-proclaimed “Excellence in Broadcasting company.” This kind of empire required an investment of millions of dollars. It required infrastructure, “A building for work,” as Luce called the Time-Life skyscraper; modern equipment, cameras, sound machines. It required a huge staff of Yalies and Skull and Bonesmen to branch out across the world, bringing stories from the exotic locales of the growing American Empire of Democratic ideals, back to the homeland in this, Luce’s self-proclaimed American Century.
While Murdoch’s News Corporation would be that and even more, reaching farther and wider than any of Halberstam’s Powers That Be had done in their years, it could well be argued that this path was paved first by Rush Limbaugh. Looking back, Limbaugh’s rise seems inexorable, but to predict it before it happened would have been folly of the highest order.
The editors, publishers and executives running major newspapers failing in the 1990 and 2000s would have done well to listen to Limbaugh, to his complaints, and glean lessons from him on what not to do. From the beginning, Limbaugh leveled some of his harshest criticisms at the dominant media culture. He railed against Left-wing Hollywood making anti-American films, depicting Republicans as bad guys, creating the fiction that no Communists ran amok in Tinseltown during McCarthyism, while making movies like Oliver Stone’s Platoon (the American experience in Vietnam could be encapsulated by My Lai), Dances With Wolves (Native Indians were all just peaceful environmentalists of no threat to settlers), and JFK (Right-wing industrialists, Pentagon brass and the CIA, not Fidel Castro or the Mob, killed Kennedy).
At the time, there was no Fox News or MSNBC. Limbaugh railed against the bias of CBS in particular, but also NBC, ABC and new cable station CNN. But his biggest peeve was reserved for the print media. Time (now thoroughly removed from the influence of Henry Luce), Newsweek, The Nation, the Washington Post, and in particular the “old grey lady,” the New York Times, were on the receiving end of his wrath, all heard by 20 million people a day. Limbaugh had broken the cardinal rule of public commentary: never criticize any entity that buys ink by the barrel. The fact that he thrived on this criticism led to what can only be another inescapable conclusion, which is that a huge number of Americans agreed with his assessment.
Having failed to prove him a liar, the Left took to calling him a homophobe, a racist, and fat. Limbaugh just laughed all the way to the bank, or the nearest golf course, losing 40 pounds while at it.
But in the early 1990s, a battle was begun. Nixon had his “enemies list,” but he was paranoid. It was a given, really. The New York Times was liberal. Some called then anti-American, especially when they agreed to publish the Pentagon Papers. After Watergate the Right quietly asked where was Woodward and Bernstein, Katharine Graham and Ben Bradlee, the power and resources of this great newspaper, when JFK stole the 1960 election from Nixon in plain sight? These were just facts of life, to be lived with. The GOP was willing to live with it, like a West Coast baseball team that knows their home games won’t be seen by Eastern viewers at night. Rush Limbaugh would not live with it!
So what is conservative talk radio, and why is it so important? There have been conservatives on the radio for years. Paul Harvey was popular with his homespun American style, telling populist tales of religion and small town values, giving his audience "the rest of the story." Bob Grant was a hit in New York. But in the 1980s, talk radio was mostly the forum of the sports world. In Los Angeles, KABC introduced Dodger Talk, giving fans non-stop baseball news and interviews. Fans could call in and offer their two cents worth. In New York, sports fans called in to WFAN to opine about the Knicks, the Yankees, and the Rangers. Also in the 1980s, the cell phone became popular. With the economic upturn, more and more people were working in the cities, living in the suburbs, and listening to radio in their cars.
But Paul Harvey was on his last legs and that was about it. When people thought of “conservative radio commentators,” they thought of Father Charles Coughlin, whose anti-Semitic rants marked the pre-World War II years. Such men were depicted as extreme and overripe, as with the man who introduces Burt Lancaster’s General James Mattoon Scott in the Right-wing conspiracy film Seven Days in May (1964).
But two things favored conservatives off the top. First, people who drive their cars to and from work, by virtue of having jobs, are more likely to be Republicans. But what really fuels the conservative talk radio engine is the fact that conservatives are more civic-minded and value knowledge more. Liberals tend to listen to music. They are more likely to be on the FM side of the dial. Conservatives usually have more education, and desire to better themselves and their communities. Part of that is to acquire more information. While others may be rockin' out to the Stones, conservatives want to make better use of their time and learn things.
Next, conservatives for years had been listening to spoon-fed media bias. They were tired of it. Conservative talk radio offered them something else after years of garbage. As a result of all the Left-wing bias that conservatives put up with all their lives, in newspapers, magazines, school textbooks, college classes, Hollywood screens, and network news, conservatives had this little feeling in their guts. Dan Rather, Peter Jennings or Walter Cronkite would tell them something, conservatives would hear it, and a little reactor would go on telling them that what they were being told was not quite right. Doesn't add up. Off kilter. Now just hold on there, buddy. I'm sure that's wrong. Can't be. Are you sure about that?
It goes on like that for years. So the conservative has these feelings, but everything around him tells him he is in the wrong. Hollywood tells him he is wrong. Cronkite says he is wrong. His college professors definitely told him he was wrong. Before, those high school and junior high texts sure had some weird stuff in them. But the conservative is not liberal. Something keeps him from becoming that way. Something about those opinions does not make sense. This feeling sticks to him, and the feeling is that, hey, I still think I'm right.
Well, being a smart guy (or gal), and wanting to do the right thing, to stand up for what is right, the conservative begins to sort things out in his head. He starts to gather knowledge. He needs to arm himself with facts to countermand all this stuff which, as he gets older, wiser and more responsible, makes more and more difference to him. Facts.
The conservative makes a discovery. It can be epiphany. It is like a religious experience. It may start with something small. Then it builds and grows. The bigger it gets the stronger it becomes. Truth.
The conservative comes to the marvelous, beautiful realization that the facts favor his way of thinking.
This is power. Now it is no longer just opinion or emotion. Now he is on the right side of things.
Then one day he turns on Rush Limbaugh.
Rush Limbaugh changed everything. There is no more powerful force in American culture than Rush Limbaugh. He has moved mountains. He is responsible for a huge shift in popular attitude. It cannot be emphasized too strongly just how huge this guy is.
Nobody is denying the importance of William F. Buckley, Barry Goldwater, and Ronald Reagan. They came before Limbaugh and set the stage for him to do what he did. Goldwater and Reagan were, as Teddy Roosevelt put it, "in the arena," battling for the votes, putting themselves in front of a steamroller of public opinion armed only with their intellect and confident knowledge of their righteousness. Limbaugh’s hero His was “Ronaldus Magnus,” his humorous term for Reagan. He freely admitted that Buckley paved the way for him.
Limbaugh would be the first to admit he was only a part of what moves conservatism. He worked hand in hand and in between the mediums of entertainment, government and business. If he is not entertaining, he fails. If he does not succeed as a business entity, he fails. If there is no corollary between his opinions and the electorate, he fails. He triumphs, in brilliant fashion, in all three areas. His very worst detractors cannot possibly deny this.
Limbaugh was born into a family of Republican lawyers in suburban Missouri. He failed to meet the academic expectations set by his family, but not for a lack of intellect. He went to a small college in Missouri and made fair grades, but dropped out to pursue what he had always wanted to do: radio. He had strong conservative opinions and wanted to express them on the air. There was virtually no radio forum in those days to allow for that. About the only thing for him to do was disc jockey work, but he got in trouble for airing politics and was fired several times. Straight news did not interest him. He wanted to be part of a cultural medium. He sensed all the things that conservatives sense, which was that he was right, he was not alone, and others wanted to hear him. But how?
Limbaugh drifted from job to job, in and out of radio. He worked for the Kansas City Royals baseball team, where he did public relations, making a pittance salary while surrounded by wealthy superstars. One of them, George Brett, shared his philosophy and they befriended each other. Limbaugh maxed out his credit cards and bought groceries at 7-11 because they would accept cards the grocery store would not.
Slowly, he began to establish himself in the radio business. He ended up at a station in Sacramento, California, where he was allowed to be a full-fledged conservative. Liberals called in, infuriated at the very idea that some such opinions could be allowed on the air. Aw, free speech. This went on for a while, and the hate was brutal. Several times, the station told Rush he was about to be fired.
Rush told his audience what was happening. He said that unless those who agreed with him made their presence known, he was gone. Liberals kept calling in, spewing with vitriol. Then the conservatives started to call. They kept calling. Rush's job was saved. For now. It was touch and go, but word of mouth spread.
Then, the beauty of capitalism kicked in. Rush began to beat the other stations in ratings. Advertisers wanted to do business with him. The best part of it was that advertisers discovered they got more bang for their buck from Rush's conservative audience. They hung with him through commercials, as they tended to be the kind of upright, tax-paying citizens who needed and purchased the goods and services they advertised. Rush was a hit in Sacramento.
In the summer of 1988, the big experiment began. Rush was brought to New York City, where he would be syndicated nationwide. Reagan was still the President, but Bush was running and Michael Dukakis had a 17-point lead. From one end of the "Fruited Plain" to the other, unsuspecting voters turned on their radios and heard Limbaugh extol the virtues of America, capitalism, freedom, conservatism, and the Republican Party. In direct correlation with the early rise of his show, Bush rose in the polls. By November he was elected President, and Rush was a national sensation.
The Democrats despised him. Over the next four years, he drove them out of their cotton pickin' minds. He had up-dates on animal rights, Ted Kennedy and other liberal gods, skewing them with hilarious voice imitations, fake songs lampooning their nostrums, and other sacred cows. But what made him successful was that he knew what he was talking about. Limbaugh did his homework and argued persuasively. He knew history and he had the facts in his favor. Filling three hours a day, five days a week, year after year, Rush occasionally exaggerated claims, and sometimes his predictions were not right. But he stated that he was right "99.9 percent of the time," and he was a lot closer to that than he was wrong.
The Left went after him with everything they had. They tried liberal talk shows, but their dismal failures just made Rush's success more obvious, like the old West Berlin’s capitalism overshadowing East Berlin’s Communism. Rush was overweight, so they made fun of him. A member of the dumbellionite class, Al Franken wrote a book called Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot. The book sold pretty well. Then Franken wrote another book, which was read by nobody. It turned out his first book only sold because Rush's name was on it. Then Rush lost weight and looked terrific. Franken realized the only books he could write that would sell would have conservatives in the title, so he wrote a book using Fox News' “fair and balanced” moniker.
The liberals desperately tried to find something wrong with Rush, in his personal life, his family, his formative years, and his hard-luck period. Anything they could pin on the man. They found out his family was as upright as the one Beaver Cleaver grew up in. Rush never broke laws, never got in trouble, and did the right thing in every aspect of his life. He was as straight an arrow as they get. In 2003, the Left thought they "got" him when Limbaugh's addiction to painkillers was made public. Limbaugh simply took personal responsibility, never complained, and dealt with the results of his actions. When he returned to the radio, he was as big as ever.
In 1992, Rush went after the Clintons hard. When they won, it looked to be a major refutation of his power. Rush had become an icon of the Right, a man that President Bush and the Republicans took very seriously - as did the Democrats. Criticizing him was not easy, since he had so many defenders and he possessed a platform. What Rush did more than anything was to expose the Left-wing bias in the dominant media culture, which he said was all of the media other than him. There was the media and the Left, all together. Then there was him.
Democrats complained and proposed Federal laws giving them equal time.
"I am equal time," Rush responded.
If Rush had three hours, they should have three hours to respond to him. Naturally, this meant that radio stations far and wide, who were making money hand over foot with Rush, were expected to put some boredom liberal on the air and watch their profits sink from a lack of listeners. Rush won in the marketplace of ideas, the freest possible example of choice. Conservatism was the winner.
Rush never blinked with the Clintons in the White House, stating that his show would be stronger than ever because now he had so much material, courtesy of their scandals. He was right again. He devised faux news reports describing "America held hostage" by the Clintons, and created hilarious songs bastardizing their lies, with a Hillary sound-alike responding "I don't recall" in Hillaryious fashion. A Sonny and Cher takeoff of "I Got You, Babe" turned into Hillary and Bill turning state's evidence on each other. He aired an Elvis impersonator singing a version of "The Ghetto," only it was a "liberal guy and a liberal gal" driving a Yugo to save mileage and do their part for the environment because "don't you know those SUVs are rapin' the land . . . ?" only the liberals in the tiny Yugo are smashed by a Mack truck on the interstate. It was insane. He got a Teddy Kennedy sound-alike to do a parody of "The Wanderer".
"I'm a philanderer, yes I'm a philanderer," replaced "I'm a wanderer, yes I'm a wanderer," and "I sleep around and 'round and 'round," replaced "I get around and 'round and 'round." He did an unbelievably perfect imitation of Bill Clinton, absolutely skewering him with humorous, outrageous commentary. His up-dates on “femi-Nazis,” gay activists and “environmentalist wackos” were spot on. He destroyed the Left with comedy and sarcasm. He made fun of feminists, mostly ugly lesbians who wanted to downgrade the importance of child-bearing. The despised him for it. His audience grew to 20 million people.
Everybody recalled the first time they heard Rush. He wrote two bestselling books and had his own TV show. He spawned conservative magazines and newspapers like the Washington Times. People who filled in for him as guest hosts became stars in their own right.
Left for dead after the “Year of the Woman” elections of 1992, when Clinton defeated George H.W. Bush and, led by Californians Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, ushered in a wave of liberal women, leading to Democrat sweeps of the House and Senate, it was accepted knowledge that Limbaugh’s time had come. The day after Bill Clinton’s victory, Rush went on the air and said only now had his time come; that going after the Clintons in the White House would be his finest hour.
In 1994 Limbaugh was the driving force behind an enormous conservative comeback. The Democrats ran an illegal check-kiting scheme, a blatant example of special privilege. Limbaugh ran a series of hilarious skits mocking them. Teamed with U.S. Congressman Newt Gingrich (R.-Georgia), who offered the popular Contract with America, Limbaugh led huge Republican sweeps of the House, Senate and every area of elected office in all of the land.
Prior to 1994, the Democrats ran the U.S. House of Representatives for all but four of 62 years. The Republicans picked up 54 seats to take control of Congress, 230 seats to 204. They captured eight U.S. Senate seats to take control by 52-48. The GOP swept a large majority of Gubernatorial elections and took over most of the state legislatures, including huge majority gains in Sacramento, which also voted overwhelmingly to limit government benefits to illegal aliens. Republican Richard Riordan was Mayor of Los Angeles, while a moderate Democrat, Frank Jordan, was Mayor of San Francisco. It appeared that he had “won.” Clinton was called “irrelevant,” assumed to be a loser for re-election in 1996.
Limbaugh flummoxed President Clinton, who publicly complained that every day he made a pronouncement or proposal, only to have Rush Limbaugh go on the air and tear it to shreds within hours. When Timothy McVeigh blew up the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Clinton tried to pin it Rush. That failed miserably.
Limbaugh led the charge in the Impeachment of President Clinton in 1998. When George W. Bush ascended to the White House, Limbaugh pointed out every single unpatriotic thing the Left did to undermine him and the war effort. Regardless of whether invasion of Iraq was good policy and “worth” the lives of so many great young men, the total hypocrisy of the so-called “loyal opposition: was astounding. Rush Limbaugh duly pointed it out to 20 million American citizens daily.
Limbaugh further rebuked the Left by creating a “character” he called the “New Castrati,” a blistering description of “castrated” Left-wing “males” who lack any manly qualities. He trots this New Castrati out to “argue” the liberal point of view.
When Barack Obama was elected President, Limbaugh said he “hopes he fails,” meaning he did not want all of Obama’s Socialist policies to pass. Obama did not fail; indeed with full Democrat support his first two years, Obama passed all the legislation; all the hopes and dreams of a generation of Democrats. African-American “comic” Wanda Sykes said she hoped Limbaugh’s kidneys failed. She was not heard from again.
When a law student named Sandra Fluke testified she needed national health care to cover the cost of her contraception needs to the tune of $3,000, Limbaugh added up the math. For somebody to require $3,000 a year to cover condoms, abortions and other sexual-medical “needs” meant that she had a lot of sex, and since she was single, either that meant her boyfriend had to perform prodigious work in this regard, or she slept around like . . . “a slut.”
Limbaugh was roundly criticized and within days apologized. Many, many times the Left felt they had “gotten” him, and indeed a few sponsors pulled their ads. Within a week new sponsors who paid more replaced them. Then the old sponsors returned. The effort to drive him off the air failed, as had numerous previous tries, all to the enormous consternation of the Democrats.
Limbaugh and his longtime collaborator, musician and comedian Paul Shanklin, created a whole new set of songs and parodies making fun of Obama, including one called “The Magic Negro,” taken directly from a Los Angeles Times editorial that called then-candidate Obama that. They made fun of Obama’s sing-song talking style.
While Bush was a friend to Republican Presidents Reagan, Bush 41 and Bush 43, it has been his opposition to Democrat Presidents Clinton and Obama where he has shown his greatest power. When Obama took office in 2009, he seemed impervious. His popularity, star power and charisma seemed overwhelming. He won with a huge plurality (as opposed to Clinton, who never passed 50 percent of the popular vote), his party swept passed token opposition, and pundits said it was the “end of conservatism,” that Reagan’s America was a thing of the past. If so, then this meant Limbaugh’s America was a thing of the past, too. It was undoubtedly Limbaugh’s greatest challenge. On top of that, he faced personal challenges. Despite his “family values” stance and professed Christianity, he was married numerous times and had no children. He had overcome an addiction to pain killers but still had health problems, including a hearing disorder, especially difficult for somebody in his line of work. He constantly battled weight issues, but when he lost 40 pounds it was an “in your face” move against his enemies who called him “fat.”
But Obama was his biggest obstacle. He was no spring chicken anymore. He had all the money he could need and could just retire to golf in Florida. The nagging accusations of racism leveled at Rush were exacerbated by the winning presence of the first African-American President. Criticizing this new “sacred cow” of American politics was very tricky, as he discovered when he said he said, “I hope he fails.”
But Limbaugh never backed off. Limbaugh, who not only challenged how smart the President was, but intimated the man had just a touch of the dumbellionite to him, lambasted Obama’s star power and glowing descriptions of his “intelligence”. His spotlighting liberal hypocrisy was dead-on; criticism of Bush for things Obama did and worse. Mistakes and stupid remarks Obama made that, in Bush’s case, were national headlines, hidden now by Obama’s protectors in the press.
Limbaugh was a phenomenon of a new media age. His syndicated radio program reached 20 million regular listeners. The Internet, the Armed Forces Radio Network, his web site and newsletter, regular appearances on Fox News, constant mention by his detractors on other networks; this was a man getting his direct message to millions, unfiltered by editors. He had no desire nor premise in being “balanced’ or “fair.” He expressed his opinion and did not need to check his editorializing as even Henry Luce, surrounded by less-conservative associates at Time magazine, once had. Nobody ever reached so many, three hours a day, seven days a week, replays on the Internet easily obtainable around the globe at all hours. Not Paley’s CBS, the New York Times, the Washington Post during Watergate; no voice in Hollywood or the government had this reach, this audience, or this influence. Clinton, two Bush’s, Obama; they all would come and go. Rush Limbaugh outlasted them all.
Nobody could possibly have predicted the decline of Obama, but Limbaugh correctly did. In 2010 the Republicans won 29 state Governorships, came from behind to now control half the state legislatures, gained 680 state legislative seats, 63 Congressional seats, and six United States Senate seats. It was arguably the greatest win one party ever won over another in American history; at least close to it. It was a total shock to Barack Obama, and it seems impossible to believe it could have happened without Rush Limbaugh.
President Obama, who once had approval ratings around 70 percent and the popularity of a rock star or movie idol, lecturing losing Republicans that the time to listen to Rush was over, now found himself facing the election challenge of a lifetime against Republican challenger Mitt Romney in 2012. In the film Game Change, Ed Harris playing Senator John McCain warned Julianne Moore as Governor Sarah Palin that she was a party leader now, and not to be persuaded by the likes of Limbaugh.
Of course, this conversation never actually happened, and Palin continued to espouse the same Constitutional conservatism as Limbaugh. Limbaugh’s influence on the GOP and, to larger extent, the philosophy of conservatism, grew larger than ever. The result was a 2010 mid-term win of astounding proportions with the prospect of total repudiation of Obama and all he stood for in 2012.
Rush is the singular responsible entity for conservative media today. His influence is what has created the paradigm shift that has changed the political landscape of America. He is as much a part of the Republican Revolution of 1994 and the Republican majorities that today dominate legislative, judicial, statehouse, state legislatures, and Congress, bedeviling President Obama, as any other factor. He is a force of nature, he is an American, and he belongs to us.
For six years, between 1988 and 1994, Limbaugh toiled as the sole conservative voice.
In 1994, when the Republicans pulled out a huge win, it was a major repudiation of the Clintons and the longstanding Democrat hold on both the House and Senate. In 1995, conservative talk radio spread. Ken "The Black Avenger" Hamblin, G. Gordon Liddy, Michael Savage, Michael Reagan, and a host of other local and national shows suddenly replaced music, sports and often liberal opinion on radios from coast to coast, most syndicated nationally.
Ken Hamblin called himself the "Black Avenger." Operating out of Denver, he represented the new "black conservative" movement, which unfortunately has never materialized among blacks, but in a weird twist on affirmative action has become extremely popular with whites. Hamblin proposed a book with the questionable title Please Don't Feed the Blacks, and was excoriated by the "brothers" for selling out. In the mean time, he doled out intelligence, patriotism, decency and common sense in huge doses, not concerned with any lack of so-called "street cred." Larry Elder followed Hamblin's lead as a black conservative on KABC, the former L.A. sports station that has been conservative ever since.
G. Gordon Liddy drove the liberals as batty as Rush, because he was an official Republican "bad guy," the man behind Watergate. So what did he do? He drove a fancy sports car with the license plates, "H20GATE." Liddy, like Oliver North, made no effort to hide behind his official actions, and was elevated to high status by the opinion of millions of American citizens who felt what he did was actually good. In Liddy's case, people view Watergate as something Kennedy and Johnson had done, and in light of the "civil war" atmosphere in the streets, and the desire not to let the Kennedys steal another election, the break-in was almost justified.
Liddy played to highly macho sensibilities, was extremely sexual, loved guns, had a Pattonesque view of warfare, and took on a conspiratorial, partisan view of the Clintons and Obama. He was nobody's fool, speaking several languages, and his education was first rate. He also had his pet peeves, such as "prison guards," who he had low regard for because they were his overseers when he served time.
Rush gave Sean Hannity his start, when he filled in for him. He was the most traditional, straightforward of the Republican hosts. Hannity was a good Catholic boy from Long Island, very strict and proper in his views regarding language, religion, morality, family values and the proper treatment of women. He was not afraid to have liberals on his show, and he was respectful towards them, drawing them in and, frankly, learning from them. His show lacked the fireworks of Savage or Liddy, and the factual evidence presented by Rush or Michael Reagan. It became slightly bland at times. Hannity co-hosted a Fox News program called Hannity and Colmes, with liberal counterpart Alan Colmes, then just The Sean Hannity Show. He is well suited for TV in appearance and smooth delivery. Colmes is a good man, but one felt a little sorry for him because, especially during the height of the Bush Presidency, the conservatives were winning most of the battles. His attempts to oppose them, to meet the show's debate-style format, left him grasping. Hannity needed to tone down his gloating just a little bit, but he was a gentleman (as was Colmes).
Michael Reagan is the former President's adopted son. Unlike his offbeat brother Ron, he is rock solid. Michael was totally unflappable, and loyal to his father in the manner of a true believer. His greatest trait was research and total knowledge of issues, including the most arcane policies, legislation, budgetary matters, and the like. He managed to dispense this while staying interesting, although he did occasionally go over his listeners' heads.
Bill O'Reilly is a TV star on Fox News. His foray into talk radio was met with mixed reviews. O'Reilly may be the most opinionated of all the opinionators (with the possible exception of Rush). He is an Irish Catholic from the Boston area. His views are less conservative and more oriented towards common sense. He bills himself as an independent or a libertarian, which is the official line of Elder and Savage, as well. Like Savage, he criticizes the Republicans and makes a point of not walking in lock step with the party, which Hannity does and perhaps Reagan appeared to do. O'Reilly's "non-partisan" assessment of himself is the party line of Fox News, which is accused of conservative bias. Like Fox, O'Reilly's approach walks a relatively new line. He calls his TV show, The O'Reilly Factor, a "no spin zone," asserting that only facts are allowed no matter how it plays out. O'Reilly is definitely conservative, but he is also right most of the time, which begs the question, If something that is right is considered conservative, then is it conservative or just right?
Some conservatives got irritated with O'Reilly because he calls it against the Republicans when he sees it that way. One can imagine that he would have jumped all over Nixon during Watergate. His show coincided with the Clintons, who were such easy targets. The Bush Presidency was easy to support, but when things went south O’Reilly found fault with them. O’Reilly was by no means a supporter of President Obama, but amid great vitriol and anger expressed by conservatism towards him, O’Reilly remained the most temperate.
What sets O'Reilly aside from Rush in particular is his attachment to non-political issues, especially involving children. He is seen as the champion of ordinary people, which fits with his blue-collar background (although his education, which includes places like Harvard, is top notch). O'Reilly is a bit full of himself. He takes himself way too seriously. Of course, there is no doubt that he is a power in this country.
Laura Ingraham is an attractive blonde whose good looks make her a regular substitute on Fox’s The O’Reilly Factor, but her droll humor, grasp of issues, and unabashed patriotism shines through on radio.
Mark Levin was an attorney in the Reagan Administration and a genuine Constitutional scholar who authored the finest books on conservative legal principles. Men in Black (2005) unmasked terrible Supreme Court rulings like Roe V. Wade. Ameritopia: The Unmaking of America (2012) stripped all veneer of respectability off political move after move by President Obama. However, if Obama is beaten in 2012 and the conservatives ever ascend to heights of power and popularity comparable to Levin’s hero, President Reagan, Levin’s Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto (2009) and Michelle Malkin’s Culture of Corruption (2009) will stand out as a modern “Battle of Midway” in this longstanding struggle. Both books came out with the new President astride the world like a liberal colossus. At the time, despite being cutting and brilliant, both seemed like John the Baptist crying in the wilderness. But one by one, the accusations and truths pointed out by both these intellects of the Right exposed the Obama Administration, coming to light more and more leading to the 2012 election.
Levin is particularly irritating. He has a bombastic style and cutting, scratchy voice that, if aimed at liberals is filled with partisanship, absent any good feeling or curbing not only of criticism, but of mocking, outright attack. However, his academic credentials are so extraordinary that he is hard to fight against. Levin uses facts as his anvil, the courts of law his special battleground. He posed a particular challenge to President Obama because he would propose a law, a mandate or a policy in the morning, only to have Levin that very afternoon use history, law, precedent and common sense to totally cut it to shreds. Liberals complain that they have nobody like Levin on their side. Conservatives counter they have nobody like Levin because Levin is right and, since liberals are not right, this is why they do not have somebody in the right on their side. Consequently, that is why conservatives, of their own free will, choose not to be liberals.
Dennis Miller “converted” to conservatism after a lifetime on the Left following the 9/11 attacks. He was a particularly erudite, sophisticated comic and actor, with a very foul mouth. Miller did a stint as a color commentator on Monday Night Football, adding tremendous wit and cultural reference to his analysis. He seemed to literally “see the light” after 9/11 and became a regular guest on The O’Reilly Factor, even touring the country with Bill O’Reilly. He did occasional comedy specials to conservative audience on HBO, which despite its penchant for Left-wing fare was almost schizophrenic in its balancing this with sometime conservative views. Miller’s radio show is political but filled with cultural references, particularly films and music. Only The Savage Nation is as varied, straying from straight politics, as much as Miller’s program.
Glenn Beck is a very Christian fellow who constantly advocates that people “return to God” in seeking answers to the world’s problems. He uses history as well as anybody and seems to see things from a very spiritual perspective. He warns of a return to Communism, which he does not see as a threat in the old Marxist mold, but as a pernicious evil manifesting itself in different guises. He points out liberal malefactors of the past, including the Darwinian off-shoots of Margaret Sanger, Malthusianism, and George Bernard Shaw, who advocated before Adolf Hitler that “undesirables” should be euthanized. His exposition of Obama aides Van Jones and Anita Dunn (who called Mao Tse-tung her “hero”) got those people fired and stirred up a huge controversy. The Left despises him and mocks the fact he seems to find Marxism everywhere, but carefully demonstrates that policies of modern day Left-wingers parallels economic policies of . . . past Marxists. He also compared Obama to Hitler, a very dangerous and, at first at least, seemingly crazing idea. Then he compared the propaganda techniques of Joseph Goebbels to those used by the Obama team, finding chilling parallels of demonization win the Alkinskyite tactics. MediaMatters.org particularly went after Beck, but efforts to silence him have not worked. He frustrates his enemies by always emerging stronger.
While conservative talk radio has played an enormous role in the post-Reagan years, it has also created a backlash against it. The nation is terribly divided, more so than any time since the Civil War. While the medium has undoubtedly created many conservative converts and “Rush babies,” as Limbaugh refers to kids who grew up listening to him and others, crediting these voices with their political development, it must be pointed out that some were turned off by their angry, loud vitriol. It has enlightened many who did not understand how they were being affected by liberalism, almost like being in a pot of hot water, not realizing it was boiling until they were too numbed to get out. Its greatest affect has probably been in turning people away from the liberals, more so than galvanizing a big Republican constituency. However, it has mirrored some of the GOP’s greatest electoral triumphs (1994, 2002, 2004). While it did not prevent President Clinton from winning twice and the election of President Obama, it coalesced opposition to them better than any previous force. While it cannot be verified, conservative talk radio is probably the biggest reason Obama might not be not re-elected in 2012.
It is by no means a monolith, however. Intense criticism of Republican policies, officials and candidates, particularly President George W. Bush and 2012 candidate Mitt Romney, frustrated many listeners who say such talk hurts GOP chances. Many also wish there was some coordination between the different hosts. O’Reilly and Miller work together. Limbaugh gave Hannity his opportunity. Hannity and Levin are close friends. O’Reilly has promoted Beck, but appears to consider Limbaugh a rival. Savage is on the outs with almost all of them, except for Laura Ingraham (the only woman, she gets along with them). Limbaugh once called Savage “a nut.” Savage, who paid some fealty to Rush before that, did not hide his disdain for him after that. Hannity and Levin apparently conspired against Savage in some capacity, and Savage despises both of them. There is rivalry over ratings and book sales, particularly between Savage, O’Reilly and Levin. Savage constantly complains how O’Reilly, Hannity and Fox News do not interview him to promote his bestsellers. Many Republican officials will not go on some of these shows, most notably Savage’s. One wonders why there is not a convention or coordination of some kind since, in the end, they all wanted the same thing: conservative ascendance and power, liberals out, Obama defeated.
Causes Steven Travers Supports
Conservative, Christian, USC, American patriotism