Limbaugh is not fringe. His views fit in the conservative mainstream. He idolizes Buckley. “He was a fundamental individual in helping me to be able to explain what I believed instinctively, helping me to explain it to others,” Limbaugh said last year. The ideas are the same but the salesman is different. Limbaugh is Buckley without the accent, without the Yale credentials, without the sailboat and harpsichord. Limbaugh is a college dropout from Cape Girardeau, Missouri, who spends Sundays watching the NFL and speaks in plain language. His background connects him to the audience—and to the increasingly working-class Republican voter.
Limbaugh entered stage right just as Ronald Reagan made his exit. He took from Reagan the sense that America’s future is bright, that America isn’t broken, just its liberal political, media, and cultural elites. “He rejected Washington elitism and connected directly with the American people who adored him,” Limbaugh said after Reagan’s death. “He didn’t need the press. He didn’t need the press to spin what he was or what he said. He had the ability to connect individually with each American who saw him.” The two men never met.
Limbaugh assumed Reagan’s position as leader of the conservative movement. In a letter sent to Limbaugh after the 1992 election, Reagan wrote, “Now that I’ve retired from active politics, I don’t mind that you have become the Number One voice for conservatism in our Country. I know the liberals call you the most dangerous man in America, but don’t worry about it, they used to say the same thing about me. Keep up the good work. America needs to hear ‘the way things ought to be.’”
Read the whole thing. As Jim Geraghty tweeted earlier this week, Rush was the gateway drug to conservatism for millions of America. During the 1990s, prior to the arrival of the World Wide Web, Fox News, and then the Blogosphere, Rush was also essentially foreshadowing blogging; riffing seemingly effortlessly on both alternative takes on the stories of the day, and stories the DNC-MSM either got wrong or failed to cover. And doing it in a way that flattered those in what coastal elites long ago dubbed “flyover country.” And increasingly far worse — as the late Timesman David Carr said to HBO’s Bill Maher in 2011, “If it’s Kansas, Missouri, no big deal. You know, that’s the dance of the low-sloping foreheads. The middle places, right?”
More from Matthew Continetti at the Washington Free Beacon:
[Limbaugh] mentioned a recent encounter on a golf course. Someone told him it is hard to defend President Trump. “I said, ‘What? Hard to defend the president? It’s one of the easiest things in the world to do.’ President Trump does not need to be defended.” The crowd cheered. A few seconds later Limbaugh said, “How do you defend Donald Trump? You attack the people who are attempting to destroy him. They’re trying to destroy you. They’re trying to transform this country into something that it was not founded to be.”
Indeed. And from Rush himself: What a Week! I’m One of the Luckiest People Alive.