At some point back in January or February 1994, I was driving from Cleveland to New York and I happened to tune into the local AM radio station and heard a guy named Rush Limbaugh for the first time. He had a call-in show which was a common type of programming on the AM band. But instead of people calling in with their latest recipe, or a complaint about their lousy high-school football team, Limbaugh talked about national politics and wrapped his script in a very angry, and a very right-wing line.
According to Rush, Democrats were liberals, and liberals were the ‘enemy.’ This was the first time I ever heard the word ‘enemy’ applied to politics of any kind. The other ‘enemy’ threatening America was the ‘mainstream media,’ which monopolized TV and radio to promote values and programs that were designed to destroy what had made America ‘great.’
If you agreed with Rush you were a 'real' American. If you disagreed with him, you were the 'enemy.' The world was divided into people who loved 'freedom' and people who didn't. It was as simple as that.
I’ll never forget Rush’s tagline: “We’re not angry – we’re informed.” He repeated this line again and again while he told one lie after another except when he quoted something from The New York Times. Except he didn’t identify his source as The New York Times. But this was when The New York Times was running a daily story about Whitewater and Rush was using this story to argue that liberals like Clinton, particularly Hillary Clinton, were all no good.
What I didn’t know about Rush is that he had spent more than 60 weekends beginning in 1992 going around the country and doing what he called ‘Freedom Rallies’ at various sites, mostly in states with large, rural, conservative populations with many small, local radio stations that played country music or white gospel all day long. His shows always had some right-wing country singer, then maybe a local GOP politician or two, and then Rush would get up and give his spiel.
Rush used these events to develop his audience and he also made sure to sign up these local radio stations to carry his daily show. Some of those stations broadcast out of the living room of someone’s house. Other stations kept their equipment in a trailer parked in the front yard. These stations were all looking for content and Rush gave them three hours of blabbing every day.
In the Summer of 1994, Rush used this network to promote Newt Gingrich’s ‘Campaign for America’ which moved the House of Representatives from blue to red for the first time in 40 years. A month after the election, Rush gave a talk to the 27 incoming GOP freshmen and told them that they needed to be vigilant about the attempts of the mainstream media to attack them and destroy what they were trying to build.
You can read a description of Rush’s speech right here. And if these remarks aren’t what we have been hearing from Trump since 2016, there ain’t a cow in Texas, so to speak. And by the way, know all those rallies that Trump has organized up to the rally that was held on the Ellipse last week? Change a few names, get rid of the Trump2020 flags and you’re right back at a Rush Freedom event in 1993.
The day following the Capitol riot, Rush said the rioters were ‘patriots’ behaving no different than the ‘revolutionaries’ who fought at Lexington and Concord. He also said the mob was being ‘smeared’ as ‘racists’ by mainstream media, as if the guy running through the Capitol with his Confederate flag is a decent, upstanding guy.
Is Trump unfit to be President? Actually, he’s never been President. He’s Rush Limbaugh in drag and as long as Rush continues to bark away at liberals, Democrats, mainstream media types and knaves of all kinds, he’ll get space on the Limbaugh echo-chamber every, single time.
Trump doesn’t need to start up his own media network to keep himself connected to the alt-right gang. He just needs to replace Rush Limbaugh when Rush’s cancer becomes too severe.
Think I’m kidding? I’m not.