National Review Writer Writes the Most National Review Article Possible on the Death of Rush Limbaugh

AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez

Yesterday, broadcasting and conservative legend Rush Limbaugh died. Rush was someone that very few people were agnostic about. He evoked strong emotions on the part of everyone who listened to his broadcast (view our Rush Limbaugh coverage here and LIVE CHAT: Remembering Rush Limbaugh – Replay Available). I would go so far as to say that not only did Rush save AM radio from extinction, and he performed the same service for conservatism. It is difficult to see how conservatism would have survived as anything more than an elite circle-jerk after Clinton’s victory in 1992 without Rush carrying the fight to the enemy, day-in-day-out (and I don’t use the term “enemy’ casually) despite all the right people arrayed against him.

The ghoulish behavior by the left upon Rush’s death was not unexpected. That is who and what these people are. Grave-dancing and gloating over political opponents’ death and injury is as much a part of progressivism as class-envy and critical race theory. And then there was this:

For millions of other people, Rush Limbaugh was the largest impediment to embracing conservatism. I count myself in this group. I’m not Rush Limbaugh’s target audience and never was. At 14 years old, I bought and enjoyed Al Franken’s book Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations. I don’t think I would enjoy it now because I simply don’t care about mass-media figures the way I did then. I vividly remembered the controversy when Rush Limbaugh called Chelsea Clinton a dog. She was about my age. And I was a child! How evil could a guy be?

I had to overcome Rush Limbaugh to become a conservative. Or at least overcome that image of Rush Limbaugh, which was always exaggerated. Years later, I would tune in and Limbaugh was a more relaxed, more light-hearted, nimble-minded, and obviously happier person than the rabble-rouser he was accused of being. Still, I haven’t met anyone who didn’t say dumber or meaner things than normal when filling up the demanding content maw of broadcast media for hours a week.

If anything, considering the place of Rush Limbaugh in his nation’s political life is to realize that conservatism has been late to develop a voice that cuts in somewhere between its aloof intellectuals and aggro broadcasters. Conservatism is still searching for a middlebrow voice. Perhaps it is starting to emerge on the podcasts like those hosted by Ricochet and National Review. The effort to conserve, Limbaugh well knew, was an effort to build something new.

“Aggro broadcaster?” Nothing says you are serious about talking to anyone outside your bubble like using British slang. Anyone vaguely familiar with conservatism in the nation’s heartland knows that the reason for Rush’s success was that he spoke for the lion’s share of the people who vote Republican. Rush was the “middlebrow voice” of actual conservatism.

This is not something new at National Review. The crudeness of using the death of the single most influential conservative voice of the last three decades and belittling what he accomplished to get podcast subscriptions is an apt metaphor here. The rot has been visible for a while, but it has accelerated during the Trump administration. One can’t escape the feeling that someone sees themselves as a latter-day William F. Buckley running Trump supporters, instead of the John Birch Society, out of the conservative movement (we actually had a contributor here who fantasized about doing exactly that).

A few weeks ago, there was this gem: Witless Ape Rides Helicopter. Clearly, it was one of the high points of conservative thought in the past years. Read Opinion: Great Move NRO; You Just Insulted 75 MILLION Americans for Mike Ford’s take on that trash and Opinion: I Am Cletus. The latter is a response to the author of the NRO piece calling Mike (West Point grad, honor graduate of Ranger School, and an infantry colonel with combat tours) an “illiterate jabroni.”

This is Kurt Schlichter’s take:

It wasn’t always that way.

This cheap shot at Rush and what he accomplished is just part of the disdain for the people who listened to him that seems to be editorial policy these days.

Rich Lowry is given to approvingly retweeting pathetic garbage from The Bulwark.

The same genius Lowry spoke approvingly of came up with this:

At least spiritually, they’ve also teamed up with Media Matters and Brian Stelter to try to stop the growth of NewsMax TV and OANN, for instance, The Right-Wing Outlets That Told Trump Fans What They Wanted to Hear.

The next two to four years are going to be critical to the future direction of conservatism. Do we welcome back the VichyCons and quislings who so loathed President Trump’s manner that they supported Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden? Are people who supported drag queen story hour as a “blessing of freedom” going to be listened to again? If the answer to either of those is yes, we’d better get used to being a permanent and dwindling political movement in a nation where the left has won.