On election night, appearing on Pajamas TV, I said that with McCain’s loss, Rush Limbaugh had become the interim leader of the opposition. Much as I find the entertainer engaging and insightful, I did not mean for him to hold onto that mantle for very long. Given his unapologetic defense of conservative ideas, his optimism and yes, his combativeness, I thought Rush was the one to rally us in the wake of our electoral setbacks.
Roger Simon, appearing on the panel with me, disagreed, anticipating the discussion which would ensue when the White House teamed up with partisans in the MSM to smear the talk show host. He thought Rush was just too controversial and confrontational.
He was right to a point. Given his combativeness, his delight in confronting adversaries of conservatives, skills which makes him so effective as communicator in the medium of talk radio, Rush could never be anything more than a provisional leader of the right. Whereas, he excels in Reagan’s ability to communicate the ideas of conservatism to a mass audience (see e.g., his celebrated speech to CPAC), he lacks the Gipper’s ability to transcend partisan differences* when promoting conservative ideas.
That’s not to fault Rush. It’s just to distinguish him from Ronald Reagan.
Because Rush’s confrontational style does not endear him to independent voters and even some more cerebral conservatives, some on the right wish to write him out of our movement.Â But, when we see Rush for who he is and recognize the role he plays, we understand that he is an integral figure to our movement.
As I’ve suggested before, he, like other exponents of conservatism, albeit with different means and methods of expression, offers a unique contribution to conservatism. Just as each deity in the Greek pantheon brought a different gift to Olympus. Alone, each could not address all of humanity’s concerns, but together, they represent the qualities we all need to thrive in this world.
And that is why we should all bristle at those who wish to write Rush out. We need see him as one among many, with each bringing a particular skill, a particular gift, to our movement. Michael Barone, among his many gifts, offers a unique ability to analyze demographic details. Charles Krauthammer can analyze a leader’s character and put his policy proposals in a larger philosophical context. Victor Davis Hanson offers similar analysis, but can draw from his knowledge of history, to show where current policies could lead.
And there are others, each of whom plays a role. As I reconsider my initial comparisons, I realize they do not work as well as I wish they did. Barone, while having the gift for detail that helped define Hephaestus, also has an Apollonian gift of foresight. We see the qualities of Athena in Hanson as well as Krauthammer.
But, the broader point remains–that each conservative advocate brings something unique to the table, that none alone can succeed in getting our message across to the American people. Even we at GayPatriot have a role to play, small though it may be.
In an era where Democrats, as one of our commenters put it, “play hardball [to whom] politics is a profession — the end-all, be-all,” we need advocates who will fight back in the same terms. Rush is such a fighter. It would be nice if we only needed the more cerebral columnists, but they alone cannot get our message across in this current media culture.
Perhaps, I was wrong to see Rush as the conservative leader, even an interim one. We have yet to find the next leader of our movement; many are currently vying for the title. Whether we like it or not, Rush is not going away; he is part of our movement. And more people try to bring him down, the more powerful he will become.
To those conservatives who wish it were otherwise, let me ask you again to consider the Greek pantheon where each deity played a role. See Rush Limbaugh in the context of a larger movement, not as the Left would have you, as the movement itself.
And consider his role in the face of an intolerant left who would use whatever tactics they can, no matter how dishonest, no matter how mean-spirited, to destroy conservatives.
By lifting some typically Rushian piece of outrageous hilarity completely out of context, the distortion gang knows full well it can get you to widen your eyes and open your mouth in the universal sign of Liberal Outrage. Your scrawny chest swelling with a warm sense of completely unearned righteousness, you will turn to your second spouse and say, “I’m not a liberal, I’m a moderate, and I’m tolerant of a wide range of differing views — but this goes too far!”
There is more untruthfulness in that statement than in a speech by President Obama. Even the commas are self-deceiving. You’re not a moderate or you wouldn’t be reading this newspaper. You’re not tolerant of a wide range of views; you are tolerant of a narrow spectrum of variations on your views. And, whatever you claim, you still haven’t listened to Rush Limbaugh.
*Reference to contemporary politics intended. Reagan clearly was a post-partisan president, offering a truly new kind of politics.