Rush Limbaugh remembered as 'the indispensable man'

Rush Limbaugh during his final broadcast of the year on Dec. 23, 2020. (Video screenshot courtesy RushLimbaugh.com)

Rush Limbaugh was remembered Wednesday as an “indispensable” leader of the conservative movement, a “happy warrior” who singlehandedly resurrected AM radio as he explained America and its reason for existence in a way no one else could, shaping a generation of political and cultural thought along with countless individual lives.

His wife, Kathryn Adams Limbaugh, announced on his radio show his death Wednesday morning at the age of 70 at his home in Palm Beach, Florida.

Former President Trump acknowledged in a live Fox News interview Limbaugh’s role in the 2016 election.

“He thought we were going to win,” Trump said. “He just had an incredible instinct for politics and he had an incredible instinct for life.”

Trump said Limbaugh was a “legend,” and for those who listened to him every day “it was like a religious experience.”

Former President George W. Bush remembered Limbaugh as an “indomitable spirit with a big heart” who was “a friend throughout my presidency.”

Mark Steyn, who became Limbaugh’s top guest host in recent years, described him as “a giant of American broadcasting, a uniquely talented performer, and a hugely generous man to whom I owe almost everything.”

Steyn titled his tribute “The Indispensable Man,” noting he’s “well aware of the ironies of the headline.”

“My father liked to caution me with the old saw that the graveyard is full of indispensable men,” Steyn wrote. “But, as the conventional bias of the legacy media yielded to something far more severe from the woke billionaires of Social Media, Rush remained the Big Voice on the Right, the largest obstacle to the complete marginalization of conservative ideas in our culture. All those of us who labored in his shadows owe it to him to continue the fight.”

Steyn captured the magnitude of Limbaugh’s unprecedented accomplishments and influence this way: His show held the No. 1 position for three decades, amounting to one-third of the history of commercial radio.

“And throughout all those decades Rush and his show stayed exactly the same: a forensic breakdown of the day’s news, punctuated by musical parodies, satirical sketches, and Rush’s own optimism and good humor, even through this last terrible year,” he said.

‘No one else remotely like him’

Steven Hayward of the Powerline blog echoed Steyn, saying Limbaugh “can’t be replaced, full stop.”

“There is no one else remotely like him,” he said. “Look for two things today: the left will react on Twitter and elsewhere with their usual lack of grace which you should ignore as best you can, and second, Tucker Carlson will now be the principal focus of the left’s demonization and paranoia. Oh, wait — that’s already happening.”

Tucker Carlson, for his part, said in a Fox News live interview that Limbaugh’s death leaves a political void.

The Fox News evening host recalled the “shock” when Limbaugh’s show came on the air in Washington, coming out of nowhere to mobilize “disaffected voters” and become “the force” that enabled Republicans to retake Congress in 1994.

Carlson said there’s a void because the Republican Party doesn’t have people in office who can explain what it means to be a conservative.

“People sought him out to help them clarify their own thought,” Carlson said of Limbaugh, noting the GOP is a party of “ideas” while the Democratic Party is a coalition of interest groups.

Carlson found it “honorable and impressive” that Limbaugh admitted his addiction failure in public, making him a more sympathetic, deeper person later in his life.

And there was probably no one who did more to elect Donald Trump than Rush Limbaugh, Carlson said. When the Wall Street Journal opposed Trump during the 2016 primaries because of his stance on trade, Limbaugh assured conservatives that “this man is on our side.” At a time when many conservatives backed Sen. Ted Cruz, Limbaugh said, no, it’s Trump.

‘It would not have happened without Rush’

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich confirmed Limbaugh’s influence on the 1994 “Republican Revolution” in which the GOP gained the majority in both the House and the Senate for the first time in 40 years.

“I absolutely believe it would not have happened without Rush,” Gingrich told Fox News host Martha MacCallum.

The former Georgia lawmaker said Limbaugh “created much of modern conservatism and is really the bridge from Reagan to where we are today.”

In the early 1990s, Limbaugh began building a movement of people “unwilling to accept left-wing ideas,” Gingrich said. And during the 1994 election — as Bill Clinton moved to the left — Limbaugh was “willing to talk about House Republicans, who had been out of power for 40 years.”

“He helped us clarify what the election was about.”

Gingrich said Limbaugh’s impact was much greater than his more than 20 million listeners, extending to perhaps as many as 80 to 90 million people, with so many saying, Did you hear what Rush said today?

Conservative radio host Mark Levin said Limbaugh “profoundly loved” his radio audience and America.

“He loved this country like nobody I’d ever met before. [He was] an incredibly wise man, a very smart man, and a dear person. If he thought somebody needed help, he would help them. Nothing like what the liberal media has tried to do to him,” Levin told Fox News anchor Harris Faulkner.

Levin said he wanted Limbaugh to be remembered as “a tremendous patriot of this country.”

“He refused to accept the attacks that came against this country from within. He refused to accept the ideological changes in this country. He defended the traditions of this country, and he spoke for tens of millions of us,” Levin said.

James Golden — better known as Bo Snerdley — was Limbaugh’s call screener, producer and engineer.

“I cant ever thank you enough Rush for giving me life changing opportunities,” he wrote on Twitter. “I’d probably be working in a grocery store if it weren’t for you. I love you forever brother, we will meet again.”

Other reactions:

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: “Rush Limbaugh made conservatism popular with the entire nation and revolutionized conservative media. He will be missed by all of his ‘ditto heads,’ this one included. Our country has lost one of its most important voices. Sending prayers to the Limbaugh family.”

The Federalist Senior Editor Mollie Hemingway: “Love you, Rush! The greatest radio man in history. An absolute master of the craft. And a brilliant hero to many. If you didn’t listen to him, or only heard him in selectively edited snippets from the hostile media, you won’t understand.”

Fox News analyst Brit Hume: “RIP. More than any single person, Rush Limbaugh helped break the left’s monopoly in the media. The left is still dominant, but not to the extent it was before he came along. He waged a brave struggle against deafness and later, the cancer that killed him. He was a giant.”

Author and radio host Eric Metaxes: “Rush really knew exactly where he was going after his life here was over, mostly thanks to his brother @DavidLimbaugh. That matters more than anything. Jesus defeated Death & opens His arms to all of us to be w/Him forever in glory, where life is FAR more real than it is here.”

Columnist Ann Coulter: “So sad. The Super Nova of American conservatism is dead. R.I.P. Rush Limbaugh.”

Filmmaker and author Dinesh D’Souza: “Rush was quite simply ‘the greatest,’ the Muhammad Ali of radio, incomparably good at what he did, and he put his genius in service of the great cause of liberty.”

Muslim activist M. Zuhdi Jasser: “There will never be any doubt in history that #RushLimbaugh changed the world, trailblazing conservative talk media and especially an alternative media from the “liberal establishment”. The impact he had on many of us in our early years of conservatism in 90’s was profound.”

Sen. Ted Cruz: “Rest in peace to the tireless voice for freedom and the conservative movement Rush Limbaugh. I’m praying for the entire Limbaugh family.”

Sen. Rand Paul: “RIP to a legend and a patriot, Rush Limbaugh. Not many people can say they revolutionized and stayed at the top of an industry the way he did. My condolences to his family.”

Social and political analyst Dave Rubin: “Sorry to hear of the passing of Rush Limbaugh. A man who I once disagreed with on almost everything, who, over time, I began to agree with on most everything. But politics aside, a true pioneer in communication and media.”

Former Trump communications director Ben Williamson: “Once read: solo radio is a job everyone thinks they could do but very few can. It’s you, a live mic, and nowhere to hide. Even beyond his political influence was how masterfully Rush did that job and built that industry, 3 hours every day for 30 years. RIP to a legend.”

Former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy: “Rush Limbaugh was a warm, wonderful man. I was privileged to call him my friend. Rush is and will remain an iconic, irreplaceable figure in the conservative movement. He was a great American patriot … and, as he would be the first to tell you in his inimitable way, his life was a uniquely American story.”

Former Rep. Jason Chaffetz: “Saddened to hear of the passing of Rush Limbaugh. He was the heart of the conservative movement, an icon who helped light the path for so many of us. God Bless!!”

Radio host Vince Coglianese: “Rush Limbaugh was about the only guaranteed thing on radio, no matter where you were in America. I remember long car trips, traveling hundreds of miles while Rush was on air. Whenever the signal faded, scan for a moment, and another station would be there carrying his voice.”

American Center for Law and Justice founder Jay Sekulow: “Rush was a once in a generation broadcaster that changed the landscape of broadcasting across America. He pioneered conservative talk radio. He was a friend of the ACLJ and supported our efforts. He will be greatly missed.”

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