Why Rush Limbaugh Is Good For America
By: Robert E. Meyer
One of the first columns I composed as a writer, was an analysis of the motives behind the criticism of Rush Limbaugh specifically, and public figures who proclaim a set of moral values in general. The editorial coincided with Limbaugh’s release from a drug rehabilitation center. I was unprepared for the barrage of hateful and vulgar responses I received from readers, who accused me of unconditionally defending Limbaugh. That was certainly not the case, but today I am clapping for the “Rushbo.”
Limbaugh has never claimed that his program is “fair and balanced.” He merely claims that his slant on current issues and events balances the monolithic bias of the mainstream media. He admits to being biased to the right, but claims the “mainstream” media denies a bias to the left. He often says or implies that if you hear or read one major news outlet, you have heard from them all. He illustrates this claim through the use of “audio montage,” a rapid series of diverse sound bites from different media sources, which feature the same word or phrase repeated over and over again. One clear example of this occurred when President Bush picked Dick Cheney for Vice-President. The media immediately became enamored with the word “gravitas,” a word you won’t even find listed in many abridged dictionaries, which means “dignity or solemnity of manner.” Limbaugh played audio clips from most of the major media news programs, all of which used the obscure word to describe what qualities Cheney brought to the ticket. Hearing them all use the same word became like a comedy line.
In addition, Limbaugh’s program features news items that simply aren’t heavily reported on the networks or in major newspapers–but issues that are of interest to his target audience.
One salutary element of Limbaugh’s program which is seldom pointed out, is its frequent value as an inspirational tool. How many times has Limbaugh, via his contagious optimism, lifted the spirits of the average conservative American who has become discouraged with the current trend in the cultural wars?
In addition, Limbaugh has that sort of pep-talk ability, to make average people believe they can do extraordinary things in reference to their own personal achievement. He so aptly demonstrates this with the testimonial of his own life story. Fired from several jobs, and without a formal degree of higher learning, he still managed to reach the top of his chosen profession. Limbaugh is living proof of what can be done when you have a passion for your vocation and cause. He demonstrates that passion can carry one further than mere raw intellectual prowess.
A few years ago, a disorder striking both ears caused Limbaugh to loose his hearing. Listeners knew something was wrong when Limbaugh took frequent absences, and the pitch of his voice started to change. Then Limbaugh announced that he was functionally deaf and was planning on having an experimental implant which could restore his hearing to at least a rudimentary level. He frequently took questions from callers by means on nothing more than typed transcript. During this period, the radio show featured several guest hosts. I simply assumed that this was a method for auditioning for a new permanent host. I was stunned when Rush came back to do the program full time. That was an inspirational story in itself, showing much about Limbaugh’s resilience. And did he ever complain even once through this entire ordeal? Not that I remember.
Telling stories about his own life, frequently allows the listener to draw useful parallels in his or her own life. One such memorable incident happened for me in August of 2001. A long-time friend and mentor was suffering in a coma with a terminal medical condition. Up until that time this gentleman had been perhaps the most positively influential person I had ever known. His wife had approached me about doing his eulogy when he passed on. I was preoccupied with my own sorrow while groping for ideas to highlight this man’s life. I turned on Limbaugh’s radio program one day that month, to hear him talking about something his own grandfather had said to him once. It was that you can really tell a lot about the character of a person by the way they treat others who can’t do anything for them. That phrase really hit me between the eyes, because it was a perfect description characterizing the early relationship between my friend and I–his own selfless devotion to friendship. I used that thought in memorializing him when the time arrived.
I couldn’t help but notice that the economic principles Limbaugh espouses bear a similarity to those shared by one of my favorite Christian expositors, Dr. D. James Kennedy. I later discovered that in Kennedy’s 1995 book, Character and Destiny, he spends several paragraphs extolling Limbaughâ€™s abilities to stymie the knee-jerk arguments from liberals. He says that Limbaugh may not be an expert on the minutiae of policy, but that his activism produces public action–an example he desires Christians to follow so that they might influence culture. A book entitled Rush Limbaugh and the Bible by Daniel Evearitt, analyses Limbaugh’s social conservativism in the light of scripture, reporting a high correlation, while admittedly not a perfect synchronization between the two.
Because Limbaugh frequently rails against public welfare spending and the idea of government being a charity of first resort, he is often mischaracterized as uncompassionate. I truly believe this is simply a misunderstanding by many people regarding the value of “tough love.” Limbaugh believes that most people can do more for themselves than they think is possible, thus all these government giveaways only prevent people from discovering their true potential. I agree with this idea, and it is incumbent upon Americans to know and understand this for themselves. The greatest gains in my own life occurred under the auspices of those who expected more out of me then I thought I needed or was able to give.
I also have a hunch that Limbaugh is very generous in his private life, but doesn’t make his deeds public knowledge. One clue that this is true is his annual fund-raiser for Leukemia and Lymphoma research. I always wonder why nobody ever mentions that Limbaugh does this charity work and gives a hefty donation himself to support the effort.
But what should we say about Limbaugh’s personal problems? He is currently under criminal investigation regarding his drug addiction. He has been through three divorces, and he frequently does abrasive and sarcastic parodies of public figures. First of all, I know nothing of the details of Limbaugh’s personal woes, other than that which is generated by the rumor mills. As far as criticizing his parodies, to do so would be to point three fingers back at myself. I have written sarcastic pieces criticizing Al Gore and Ted Kennedy. But in defense of Rush, the outrageous rants of these public figures often act as a catalyst for his responses.
In summary, Rush Limbaugh is good for American because he represents an alternative to the liberal hegemony of news sources, and because he is an inspirational figure.