In memory of Rush Limbaugh, I wanted to share a few memories. In May 1993, a few “dittoheads” from my church headed to Fort Collins for Dan’s Bake Sale, an impromptu gathering of Rush Limbaugh fans who converged on Fort Collins to help Dan Kay raise $29.95 to buy a subscription to Rush’s newsletter.
We didn’t know what we were in for until we reached northbound I-25 in Denver for what should have been a 45-minute drive to Old Town Square. We realized something was different about this day when the drive slowed to more than two hours because the freeway was flooded with fans of Rush from across the country.
The Coloradoan newspaper estimated attendance at 20,000 – about the number who attended CSU football games at old Hughes Stadium. Believe me, Rams traffic never backed up I-25 like we experienced on this day. Attendance was surely several times greater.
Like the Tea Party Rally in Washington 30 years later, conservatives gathered, conversed and celebrated, picked up their trash, and generally “practiced what we preached.” Those were literally the good ol’ days!
A few months earlier, Rush had published his first book, the best-selling The Way Things Ought to Be. As a 25-year-old newspaper reporter whom the publisher indulged with a weekly opinion column, I wrote a piece which included these excerpts:
Candor is rare these days, what with everyone preoccupied with maintaining “political viability” or too insecure to express, unabashedly, their honest opinions, thoughts or suspicions. Perhaps that explains the popularity of “The Most Dangerous Man in America.”
Mere utterance of the name evokes adulation from some, abomination from others, and apathy only from those alien to this hemisphere.
Detractors label him hateful and homophobic. Devotees ascribe to him qualities of omniscience. Either assessment typically derives from Rush’s ability to enunciate the values and beliefs that many – dare I say, most – Americans consider fundamental but which the politically correct have denounced.
Perhaps Rush’s most effective device is “demonstrating absurdity by being absurd.” For instance, on Fridays he facetiously assures his 13 million listeners that they need not worry themselves with world events because, on Monday, he will tell them not only what happened but also what to think about what happened.
His point: the media, “because they think people are such dim-witted fools . . . feel it necessary to spoon-feed (the public) with proper versions of events, all the while denying that they do it.”
Columbus. “We can’t change (the past), we’re here. We’re the best country on earth, and I’m sick and tired of people trying to change history to portray this country as an instrument of evil.”
The ‘80s. Condemnation of widespread gains in income during the Reagan years as “greed” is to say that prosperity for the poor and middle classes is unacceptable if the wealthy also benefit.
Responsibility. “An increasing number of people . . . want to go through life without facing the consequences of their actions . . . to do everything for their own convenience, regardless of how it affects everyone else.”
Entitlements. Liberals like to achieve fairness by spreading misery.
Hollywood “makes fun of what people hold dear. They disparage American heroes.”
Back then, Rush also championed the importance of character:
“The Perot ‘candidacy’ illustrates just how important character is in choosing leaders, and I find it almost laughably ironic that it was his principles (character) that the Perotistas cited most often as the reason they supported him. He made promise after promise, then broke them all. . . . [H]is entire campaign was based on the profound deceit of manipulating people into thinking they had created his candidacy, when it fact it was he who had orchestrated the whole thing. . . .
“Without question there is a rising clamor for change, not only in our political institutions and establishment, but in the policies and directions which emanate from them. The key to change, though, will be found inside, not outside the system among politically experienced people who are ethical, honest, and moral – characteristics that do matter. . . .
“Outsiders, and those who present themselves as such, will ultimately end up as carcasses strewn across the countryside, false prophets of a false premise.”
One day, Republicans will re-discover that Rush was right.
Mega-dittos, Rush! R.I.P.