The Age of Limbaugh

When politics and popular entertainment collide

Rush Limbaugh: An Army of One, by Zev Chafets, Sentinel, 217 pages, $25.95.

Just a few days after he was sworn in as president, Barack Obama asked the opposition to ignore its partisan instincts and help him develop a stimulus package. “You can’t just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done,” he admonished.

It was the beginning of a big year for Limbaugh, a radio host whose influence had seemed to be waning not long before. Allies and critics alike were soon describing him as the “head of the Republican Party,” not least when the actual head of the Republican National Committee criticized the famous broadcaster only to quickly cave to rank-and-file pressure and apologize for his remarks. Beloved by the true-believing party base, disdained by center-right compromisers, and detested by the left, Limbaugh has towered over every noisy Washington debate of 2009 and 2010.

Now he is the subject of a breezy biography, Zev Chafets’ Rush Limbaugh: An Army of One. In Chafets’ telling, Limbaugh comes across as a likeable loner with the same combination of confidence and insecurity that has fueled entertainers for eons. The book began as a magazine profile, and it still reads like one, complete with first-person segments about the author’s interactions with Limbaugh and the people who know him. Chafets, a journalist and novelist who once worked as a press officer for Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, leans heavily on recent events—over a third of the book is devoted to the latest two years of Limbaugh’s life—and he is generally sympathetic, though not entirely uncritical, toward his subject. There is much more here about Limbaugh’s impact on politics than his impact on radio, and while Chafets compares Rush to a series of celebrities, from Elvis to Muhammad Ali, he doesn’t really explore Limbaugh’s status as a pop icon.

Limbaugh isn’t really the head of the GOP, but he isn’t an ordinary commentator either. Part vaudeville showman and part ward leader, Limbaugh straddles the line between politics and popular culture. He is the most notable example of a political species that emerged only recently: a person whose power derives not from his constituents but from his fans.

This is not the distant fandom that fuels the rise of a Ronald Reagan or an Arnold Schwarzenegger. Such celebrities’ fame may allow them to bypass the traditional early stages of a political career—the low-level legwork that lets voters and donors know who a candidate is. But when they enter electoral politics, they still need to establish a conventional political organization.

Nor is Limbaugh’s following the type that allowed earlier generations of broadcasters to influence the public debate. It’s much more participatory than that.

Limbaugh interacts directly with his audience. He doesn’t just speak but listens, and the callers don’t just listen but argue. Limbaugh is always in charge of the show, and he manipulates his medium like a master. But the intimacy of radio gives him a relationship with his followers that’s considerably different from that enjoyed by ordinary politicians and pundits.

It is effective theater, and because it is effective theater it is also effective politics. Limbaugh is not in the habit of urging his audience to call their congressmen, but when he asked them to do so during the debate over Obama’s health care bill, they telephoned in droves. Whenever a public figure criticizes Limbaugh, his listeners will dutifully launch an angry fusillade of calls and emails on their own. And when Republicans swept to historic victories in the congressional elections of 1994, the GOP freshman class knew who to thank, naming Limbaugh an honorary member of their caucus. Obama’s admonition—“You can’t just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done”—unintentionally expressed something important about the show: It asks its audience not to “just listen” but to actively involve themselves in both the program (by calling in) and the political process (by backing conservative candidates and causes).

When something like a fan culture appears in politics—when a public figure’s supporters feel an intense personal connection to him, and the figure in question takes a showman’s delight in trying to fine-tune their reactions—the leader is often accused of being a demagogue. Because intellectuals have traditionally distrusted the mass media, this has been especially true when the leader’s pulpit is the television or the radio. But the situation is usually more complicated than that. With Limbaugh, it’s much more complicated. When callers launch their spiels with the word “dittos,” they’re not simply falling in line behind Limbaugh; they’re offering him feedback. If he directs his listeners’ emotions as skillfully as any performing artist, he also gives them a role in driving his show. And he’s not just a leader but an entertainer, with a style that owes more to disc jockeys and stand-up comics than to conventional political oratory.

Rush Limbaugh got his start as a Top 40 DJ. Significantly, he got into broadcasting because he loved music, not because he loved politics. The most ideological element of his early radio work was that it wasn’t ideological: He played pop singles, read the news, and performed other tasks for tightly formatted AM stations at a time when more countercultural outlets were mixing their experimental, genre-bending freeform sets with left-leaning grumblings about The Man. Limbaugh would later deride those DJs and their listeners as “long-haired, dope-smoking, maggot-infested, good time rock ’n’ roll plastic banana FM types.”

At the same time, as Chafets shows, Limbaugh pushed back against the restrictions of his format, a habit that didn’t always lead to good relations with station management. When political talk radio took off in the early ’90s, it was, in one respect at least, a throwback to the old days of freeform FM: The host was in charge. He was free to improvise a long monologue, to take calls, to do risky comedy bits, and even to insert some music into the mix; you didn’t know at the beginning of a show where the next few hours would take you. Suddenly there was more creative freedom on the AM band than on FM—a radical reversal from the hippie days.

Fans of the Limbaugh show tune in not just to hear right-wing opinions but for the host’s on-air persona (he plays an over-the-top egotist) and the world he constructed around it (his show has its own jargon and catchphrases, a horde of running gags, and a set of customs for the callers). Even the mic technique is distinctive: Limbaugh punctuates his comments with coughs, shuffles his papers noisily at the appropriate junctures, and, in general, gives his show a sound that is as singular as its viewpoint.

His success announced a new era in which politics and popular culture would be blended more thoroughly than ever before: a time when shock jocks are as significant as policy wonks and getting good ratings is as important as getting out the vote. That puts Limbaugh in an interesting relationship not just with his audience but with his targets. Talk radio thrives on populist outrage, so its strongest moments come when it channels public opposition to a controversial policy. Its most uncomfortable moments come when it finds itself playing defense rather than offense. And its most ridiculous moments come when the news cycle is quiet, leaving the host thrashing around to gin up a good controversy for the day. Like the funnyman in a double act, the talk show host always needs a foil.

It should surprise no one, then, that Limbaugh’s popularity leaped when Bill Clinton became president, nor that he lost his momentum after he helped engineer the Republican victories of 1994. And it shouldn’t be a shock that the transition away from Republican rule has reinvigorated him. Limbaugh, in turn, has been a convenient target for the media-savvy Democratic commander-in-chief, who has good reasons to prefer a Limbaugh-led GOP. (Rush is as unpopular with swing-vote centrists as he is popular among his fans.) It isn’t that Limbaugh wants the Democrats to be in power. It’s just that his show is strongest when they are.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Max||

    Father Coughlin had fans.

  • ||

    too bad you don't Max.

  • Jesse Walker||

    Father Coughlin had fans.

    He didn't have a call-in show. Coughlin is one of the people I had in mind when I wrote, "Nor is Limbaugh's following the type that allowed earlier generations of broadcasters to influence the public debate. It's much more participatory than that."

  • ||

    Max is still disappointed about that. He spent most of his childhood hoping he could call in and tell the world about how the Joos are ruining everything.

  • Max||

    I think it's actually sort of fake participatory. Limbaugh rambles on for long periods without taking any calls, and the ones he does take appear to be carefully screened. Never does a caller disagree with him. He did TV before a live audience briefly where the participation couldn't be faked, and he bombed very quickly.

  • Jesse Walker||

    I think he takes calls less frequently now than he did in the '80s and '90s.

    The TV show actually lasted for several years. But I agree that it wasn't very good; radio talent doesn't always translate to television, and this is n excellent case in point.

  • ||

    Radio is about voice and voice only. TV is also about looks and body language. It is just not the same.

  • Suki||

    John, he has a live video stream of his show daily that is very popular. I thought you knew this.

  • ||

    No. I don't listen to the radio during the day. So I don't have a chance to listen to him. When I was between college and law school one summer back in the 1990s, I had a job where I drove around and delivered packages all day. That was the only summer I have ever listened to him.

  • Suki||

    You can catch the podcasts on ruslimbaugh.com

  • Suki||

    You can also listen to the stream on your smartphone or computer from some of the stations what carry him.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    You can also drive drywall screws through your tongue and gargle lime juice.

  • ||

    +1

  • Gilbert Martin||

    That's not remotely comparable to a TV show.

  • Suki||

    Jesse, this is completely false, at least in my years of listening to the show and I didn't start listening last week either.

    The second development was Limbaugh’s loose approach to social issues. The broadcaster is, at least nominally, a social conservative. He is unfriendly to the gay movement (though he has toned that down over the years) and he supports drug prohibition (despite his own run-ins with the law).

    He is very socially liberal and touts people be responsible in the behavior they choose.

    Note to others, there is much more than one paragraph on page two. It is worth the click.

  • Jesse Walker||

    Suki: He was very unfriendly to the gay movement in the early years of his show, then made a conscious decision to back down. And while drugs are not a central part of his program, he has made it clear when asked that he opposes legalization.

    At any rate, the main point of the paragraph (including the part you didn't quote) is that while he identifies himself as a social conservative, he doesn't highlight those issues and doesn't live his life that way. The secondary point of the paragraph is that this combination is pretty common on the right these days.

  • Suki||

    He was very unfriendly to the gay movement in the early years of his show, then made a conscious decision to back down.

    I was unaware of that. What was he saying? He sure doesn't act that way now. I know people who think gays need special rights would have a complaint with him, because he is not that way at all.

  • Jesse Walker||

    Well, for a while he did "AIDS update" bits, in which the featured music was Dionne Warwick's "I'll Never Love This Way Again." He later apologized for this, saying it was "very insensitive to people who were dying."

  • Suki||

    That was before my time listening I think. Don't remember any of that anyway. Thank you for filling that in.

    When I finally got old enough to have an opinion on the AIDS debate it always seemed to me that the majority of the people shouting from the gay-political side were advocating that society pay for their risky behavior. I don't hear much of that these days, but I am not surrounded by students anymore either.

  • RockLibertyWarrior||

    I am no supporter of Limbaugh on most issues but Limbaugh has said he believes gays were "born that way". In fact he has taken calls from "gay" Republicans and been very interested in their views and has said he has alot of gay friends (I know the common "I have alot of insert minority here" friends comment) from working in the entertainment business. Maybe in the past he was anti gay but he doesn't seem that way now. I do go out of my way not to listen to his neo conservative drivel though.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Max,

    Limbaugh rambles on for long periods without taking any calls, and the ones he does take appear to be carefully screened. Never does a caller disagree with him.

    Maybe there should be a "fairness doctrine" for deranged leftist callers, Max.

  • Suki||

    +1

    And if any talk shows are fair, it is the ones that lean Right, like Rush.

  • Suki||

    The quickest way to be put on the air to talk to him is by disagreeing with him. If you actually listened to the show, instead of people who write about it without listening either, you would know this.

  • ||

    +1

    >>Never does a caller disagree with him.

    Max's statement is BS.

  • WTF||

    Never does a caller disagree with him.

    You clearly don't listen to the show. He has people call in all the time who tell him he's wrong, disagree with him and berate him.

  • The Gobbler||

    "You clearly don't listen to the show"

    Of course not. Max is too busy waiting for a new H&R post to masterbate to.

  • reality check||

    and the Gobbler is too busy waiting for Max to post, so he can masturbate to his comment. Is this what they call the circle of life?

  • ||

    All this masterbation and you've got some kind of "circle".

  • ||

    "Never does a caller disagree with him."

    This is patently untrue. Limbaugh is always willing to take calls from those who disagree. He will let them talk (usually) and will often subtley ridicule them. Unlike Levin and Savage who scream at the callers, Limbaugh typically will lead them on, tongue-in-cheek. You are right though, he does tend to drone and more recently has become repetitive, making the same point over and over which gets old quick.

  • Suki||

    Max, his TV show lasted a lot longer than yours.

  • Bill||

    I have only listened to Limbaugh for about 15 minutes my entire life. The rest I know is the occasional blurb in the news about him. Some of my liberal friends on the other hand, will listen and be outraged by him. I think he's a pompous ass, only slightly better than that other pompous ass who used to be on ESPN and I can't listen to either one for more than a few minutes without changing the channel. Same with most presidential addresses. McNeill-Lehrer now, or the Sunday morning shows I can listen to for hours sometimes.

  • ||

    i think what you, and many others miss, is that the pompous ass thing is a SCHTICK. it's supposed to be silly and over the top. i think a lot of peope who are quite good at parody ( a la franken) fail to recognize it when limbaugh does it.

    personally, i'm not a big fan, just because i find him kind of boring. but i certainly get that it's a schtick. it doesn't mean he doesn't believe a lot of what he says, but the whole king-of-all-media-i'm-always right etc. etc. thing IS a character he plays.

    i could get all vonnegut and say "we are who we pretend to be, so we should be careful who we pretend to be" but won't

  • Ray||

    Rush has had more disagreeing callers in one week than Olbermann has had disagreeing guests his whole career.

  • Rudan||

    So he's had 2 to Olbermann's one. Fantastic. Doesn't mean the show still isn't largely an ideological echo chamber like anything on Fox or MSNBC.

  • pmains||

    That's a schoolyard argument without a basis in fact. As has already been pointed out, Rush frequently has hostile callers on the line. He frequently cites his policy of having callers who disagree with him "go to the front of the line."

  • ||

    Actually, he often speaks to (carefully screened) callers who disagree with him. And he thinks he's superb in his handling of those oppo calls. I, on the other hand, think it's his primary weakness. He's not nearly as adept at off-the-cuff debate as he thinks he is. He's damn good at the other stuff, though.

  • ||

    He is the most notable example of a political species that emerged only recently: a person whose power derives not from his constituents but from his fans.

    I think your just wrong about that. William Hearst, Ben Franklin, Martin Luther spring to mind. Also, I'm not up on my ancient history, but wasn't there a gladiator or two that had the ear of the Emperor?

  • Jesse Walker||

    Hearst is another one of the people I was thinking about in the "Nor is Limbaugh's following the type..." line, along with Coughlin, Walter Winchell, etc. Franklin and Luther don't have the participatory-mass-media thing going for them either.

  • Hank||

    And surely you don't discount our current celebrity cool and hip president Obama. A little Oprah and a couple of books, and there you have it: President New Coke.

  • ||

    OK..that was funny!

  • scott ||

    yes and his name is max

  • Fiscal Meth||

    You got sent to the back of the line. +1 anyway

  • ||

    I think 99% of the humor and irony in that show goes right over liberals' heads. I haven't listened to it since the mid 1990s. But, at least back then the shtick was obvious. All of the over the top language and such was designed to be ironic and funny. When I was listening to it some guy called in whining about how he didn't have the money to purchase a subscription to the Limbaugh Letter. So Limbaugh had a bake sale to raise the money. All of these people showed up in Colorado for it. It was apparently a big event. And it was totally making fun of the liberal bumper sticker "if only the Pentagon had to have bake sales for funding" or whatever such nonsense. It was always just a funny and entertaining show. And it seemed that only the listeners go the joke.

  • The Angry Optimist||

  • ||

    That is it. It was really a quite good piece of absurdest theater. It is the kind of thing that if a Leftist had done it, it would have been hailed as brilliant comedy.

  • ▲ ▲||

    That actually makes a lot of sense. He was on that Family Guy Star Wars special parodying himself; talking about the liberal media's agenda in regards to the Rebel Alliance and global warming on Hoth. It would make a lot of sense if it was an ironic entertainment thing. I can't see a stuffy uber conservative appearing on Family Guy lampooning himself.

  • ||

    Nice piece. Only one error. The part about Al Franken getting elected to the Senate.

  • ||

    Good point. Stealing an election doesn't equate to being elected.

  • WTF||

    Not this again. Depending on one's perspective, Bush stole the the presidency from Gore but Franken was fairly elected; or vice-versa.

  • ||

    Wrong, the recount showed Bush won. And that was without the panhandle voters that were disenfranchised when the VNS called it for Gore. And you may not be aware of it but a new study pretty much proves felon votes gave it to Franken. Pawlenty may even call for a revote.

  • WTF||

    My point was that each side has its own spin on what the reality was, and each will defend to the death the notion that its version of reality is the correct one.

    I know about the Florida re-count that showed Bush would have won, had they continued counting using the standards in place at the time.

    But don't confuse the issue with FACTS!!

  • Suki||

    It has been pointed out to me a few hundred times how absurd it is to think that Bush stole an election from the person counting the votes.

  • creech||

    Franken probably did steal it. But how do those who say so know how the felons voted? Doesn't Minnesota have secret voting or did reporters follow up with the felons to find out how they voted?

  • Suki||

    Yes, you must be right. Democrats want voting rights for prisons in their districts because they are the party of fairness. Republicans oppose it because they are just mean.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Even if felons voted when they shouldn't have (which seems highly likely given the methodology used by the study), and even if the illegal votes were mostly for Franken, it doesn't mean he, personally, "stole" the election.

  • ||

    I've always thought it was topical entertainment, and the topic just happens to be politics. Clearly, lots of people take it much more seriously than Rush does.

    That said, as entertainment its not what it used to be. He's a smart guy, pretty savvy, but he's an entertainer. A filthy rich entertainer, who manages to make truckloads of money by mocking leftists and liberals.

  • ||

    He was brilliant in that he realized that a large portion of society had no outlet to make fun of the other side. The entire comedy and entertainment industry is built around making fun of conservatives and middle America. He offers the one avenue where middle America and conservatives can make fun of everyone else. It is a huge market and he owns it.

  • Mike M.||

    Nail right on the head. Limbaugh exists because of the vacuum created by the "mainstream" media.

  • ||

    +1000 to Mike M. and John

  • Barry Loberfeld||

    "He offers the one avenue where middle America and conservatives can make fun of everyone else."

    Spot on! That is exactly what — the only thing — Limbaugh represents: the Spite Right.

  • Barry Loberfeld||

    Workable link: the Spite Right

  • ||

    Ladies: Your man will never be Rush Limbaugh. But now your man can smell like he's Rush Limbaugh.

  • ||

    The Old Spice Guy is hot and all, but I can only assume Rush smells like money and Vicodin, which I can see being very popular.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Money and Vikes? That sounds appealing, even to me.

  • ||

    Rush's defense of McDonald's last week is the kind of spiel that appeals to so many people. In a medium that has become cluttered with right wing talkers, Rush always manages to find the stories that differentiate him from the rif raff.

  • poopy||

    Limbaugh gives Rush a bad name.

  • Thomas O.||

    +2112

  • ||

    Are we still talking about a New World Man?

  • RockLibertyWarrior||

    I feel you dude. I was in line at the grocery store with my Rush 2112 T Shirt on and some old church lady comes up and yells really loud "Oh I just love Rush Limbaugh, don't you?!" I turned and smiled, pointing to my T shirt I told her "I love this Rush not that Rush". She looked shocked. It was pretty funny.

  • Alan Vanneman||

    "a sitting politician who resigned her office because she felt she could be more influential in a Rush-like role"

    "a sitting politician who resigned her office because she felt she could make millions without working hard and because she was sick of driving her own damn car."

  • ||

    "a sitting politician who resigned her office because she felt she could make millions without working hard and because she was sick of driving her own damn car."

    Even if true, so what? You wouldn't do the same? LOL

  • The Gobbler||

    Shouldn't you be at home writing Art Buchwald's And Then I Told the President?

  • ||

    Does anyone else notice the calming effect that Jesse Walker has on Max, it's amazing really.

  • ||

    Maybe Jessee missed his calling. Perhaps he should be working with the mentally ill. He does seem to have a gift.

  • ||

    The Troll Whisperer.

  • ||

    +1. But sadly as seen below, his magic powers don't work on Tony or Shrike. I guess they are beyond help.

  • ||

    *has hand in air, waving around*

    "Get back people, dangit, I said git. Jesse can't work his magic with all you folks hoverin' 'round him like that."

    *max stands up, his senses restored. ready to join the normal once again*

    "That's right let him work."

    *turns around and whispers conspiratorially to an astonished crowd member*

    "They call him the troll whisperer"

  • The Gobbler||

    I heard Max is so stupid that he believes he invented shit.

  • Suki||

    He confuses production with invention often.

  • ||

    The 2008 NYT profile of Limbaugh by Chafets is pretty interesting. When it first came out, I remember thinking Chafets would play to his NYT audience, but he seems to find a balance between admiration for Rush's accomplishments, and mockery of the more ridiculous aspects of his persona (Rush getting defensive about his cars and houses, for example).

  • ||

    Well, as a Canadian who listens to Limbaugh every once in a while, I have to agree people miss his hard tongue in cheek humor. I love it when he calls the Obama admin. "the regime." Even as he's saying it you know he's doing it for dramatic effect. But liberals like my sister (who only get their info. about him from second hand sources like idiotic sites like Huffington: Huff, Puff and Fluff) just go bananas over everything he says without ever criticizing douches like Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow who are of the same ilk but suck at it.

    Look, the guy is a radio master. So is Howard Stern. Sure his comments are sometimes ridiculous but he does say some things that resonate. He knows what he's doing big time.

    It's like with this Tea Party thing. Liberals are offering very simplistic opinions about it ultimately going with the racist angle. When you pull out that card you basically have run out of ideas. There may be elements of racism but doesn't that exist anywhere? Liberals themselves are obsessed with race albeit in a different vain but it's still "racist." Personally, I'll watch this TP thing more before passing judgment. I don't know if it's a fad or possesses long-term depth. All I know is it's stated goals are fiscal restraint and smaller government - though they don't explain exactly how they would go about reducing the size of government. That would be a start to policy-making maturity I reckon.

    Obama WISHES he has that kind of love. For him to focus on a radio personality shows he lacks true confidence and leadership qualities.

    That's just my opinion.

  • ||

    The left cannot understand that anyone could be a sincere conservative. They really don't understand conservative ideas. And thus can't make coherent arguments against them. That is why they don't get Limbaugh's humor. You have to understand a language before you understand its humor.

  • poopy||

    The left does not think.
    They emote and only use their thought process to justify what they feel.
    They don't get Limbaugh's humor because his humor requires thought, while all the left is capable of is an emotional reaction.

  • Suki||

    Well, as a Canadian who listens to Limbaugh every once in a while, I have to agree people miss his hard tongue in cheek humor. I love it when he calls the Obama admin. "the regime." Even as he's saying it you know he's doing it for dramatic effect.

    Much of that is making fun of Chris Matthews.

  • ||

    Sorry if the above comment felt a little disjointed. I was eating a ham sandwich (with honey dijon mustard, fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, oregano and basil) as I typed it.

  • Corduroy||

    Now I'm hungry

  • mr simple||

    You, sir, are a sandwich artist.

  • ||

    And I sing while I prepare it.

  • ||

    Oh, I forgot to mention - on olive bread.

    No. I'm not gay.

  • wolfgang||

    No Rufus you are not gay, simply a connoisseur; but I do have one question though. How did you get the Cherry Tomatoes to stay in the sandwich?

  • ||

    Good question. I know I'm late but here's what I do, I slice them thinly. I know, it's a lot of work but worth it since I find cherry tomatoes mesh well with fresh basil in a sandwich.

  • Tony||

    More than anything else Limbaugh reminds me of Radio Rwanda in the early 90s. John, even if he is all satire and hyperbole, his audience is very stupid, and someone is getting them very on edge about the evil liberals who are destroying the country. Not to mention the ugly racial component to Rush's shtick. I don't know who's laughing, and if anyone is their sense of humor is rather lowbrow.

  • ||

    Tony,

    Radio Rowanda resulted in one of the worst genocides in history. You really have reached a new level of retardation if you think that Rush Limbaugh is Radio Rowanda.

    Just shut the fuck up. You really are beneath contempt.

  • Tony||

    Yes I am deliberately making the comparison and think it is apt.

    He's not to the point of calling liberals cockroaches and openly advocating for their slaughter, but the rhetoric is pretty much of a kind. One faction in the country is pure, unredeemable evil, and we right-thinking Americans are existentially threatened by them. And you cannot deny that he adds a LOT of racial stuff to the mix.

    I'm not saying violence is around the corner. I'm saying demagoguery is always bad for a country, can never lead to a good place, and that's all Limbaugh does.

  • ||

    Tony,

    The thread is about Rush Limbaugh not Kieth Olberman.

  • WTF||

    One faction in the country is pure, unredeemable evil, and we right-thinking Americans are existentially threatened by them. And you cannot deny that he adds a LOT of racial stuff to the mix.

    This describes Obama's and the Dem's approach to a T.

    Rush has not, in an way, cornered the market on that tactict. It most definitely is a two-way street.

  • Suki||

    +1

  • ||

    That's pretty much my response to that Tonyism.

    I guess Tony's too young to remember how many minority babies the Democrats were accusing Ronald Reagan of murdering.

  • cynical||

    "It most definitely is a two-way street."

    So was the slaughter in Rwanda...

  • Tony||

    Yesss...feed me! FEED ME! My attention-whoring grows stronger every minute...

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Let's see:

    1. Compare to genocidal madmen (ad hominem)
    2. Outright call folks stupid (ad hominem)
    3. Claim racism
    4. Insult senses of humor from on-high

    Like they say: nothing to see here folks, move right along. I am reminded of a Family Guy sketch:

    Chris: What do you eat?
    Male Homosexual: Attention.
  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tony,

    John, even if he is all satire and hyperbole, his audience is very stupid,

    ... and you're omniscient enough to make such sweeping generalization, I would gather.

  • ||

    ... and you're omniscient enough to make such sweeping generalization, I would gather.

    Of course he is. All Liberals are. That's why we should all let them run everything; because they are *never* wrong.

  • ||

    As opposed to someone who claims "talent on loan from God".

    Limbaugh is a carny barker, light on facts, heavy on hyperbole, and just slightly less predictable/boring than Hannity. Still, if you can make $32M running with the "Libruls are Evil" schtick for 30 years, he's no dummy.

  • ||

    "John, even if he is all satire and hyperbole, his audience is very stupid, and someone is getting them very on edge about the evil liberals who are destroying the country."

    You of course don't get any of the jokes but assume that the people who do are "very stupid". Hint, they are not laughing with you Tony, they are laughing at you.

  • poopy||

    I've always thought it humorous that when certain people do not understand something they label it as stupid, when it is they who are the stupid ones by virtue of not being able to understand that which they label as stupid.

  • Suki||

    You of course don't get any of the jokes but assume that the people who do are "very stupid". Hint, they are not laughing with you Tony, they are laughing at you.

    Someone might need to explain that to ChonyMNG.

  • ||

    You really are a horrible bigoted human being. You think that stereotyping and judging people is perfectly okay as long as you don't do it by race. You honestly seem to think that everyone who is not like you is some ridiculous stereotype. I really feel sorry for you. Being a 21st Century Archie Bunker can't be fun.

  • CrackertyAssCracker||

    Don't be so hard on Archie Bunker.

    Archie Bunker was a jerk most of the time. But he could, sometimes, when cornered, respect the basic humanity of those who he disagreed with. Tony doesn't have that capacity.

  • ||

    True.

  • Joe||

    Don't be hard on Archie Bunker. He was a stereotype thought up by what's his face.

  • Tony||

    Who am I judging? Stupid people? I don't think that's the same thing as being racially bigoted. Are you mad that I'm criticizing Limbaugh? I think he'll be ok.

  • Soonerliberty||

    Well, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that gov't doesn't work. We only have thousands of years worth of "we just need a better king." Just look at the wonders of the bureaucratic heaven-on-earth you promote. Failing schools, failing healthcare programs, failing military, failing infrastructure, failing regulations, fail, fail, fail. Yet, you think that this time it will work if you just put the right people in place. What a joke!

  • Tony||

    You're right, it doesn't take a genius.

    But it's kind of unfair when we've had people in charge for a decade who believe as you do about government, then to complain about how everything's screwed up.

  • Joe M||

    Uh, wrong. The people who have been in power the last decade clearly had a deep and abiding love of government.

  • Soonerliberty||

    Bush was a statist, a compassionate conservative (whatever the hell that even means) who believed that the gov't has a place in the market and in charity. He was every bit as bad as Obama is about believing the state should solve all problems in society. He overregulated the free market (Sarbanes-Oxley, bailouts, TARP), and you think that's the philosophy we promote? He never opened our borders to free trade. He was protectionist with steel. He is nothing close to what we believe. He started wars when he should've freed the markets, the best defense against enemies. He even said himself that he wanted to abandon the free market to save it. And then, he was a big-time social conservative.

    Tony, we are not conservatives. Get that through your head.

    Besides, your philosophy has an outstanding record: over 120 million dead and counting, massive poverty, inflation, state insolvency.

  • poopy||

    compassionate conservative (whatever the hell that even means)

    big government liberal who opposes abortion

  • Spoonman.||

    Hasn't at least that claim been disproven? Yeah, people like us would have created a whole new Cabinet-level department. Dipshit.

  • Corduroy||

    The worst and most apt accusation you can throw at Limbaugh is that he is a Republican shill. The racist, elitist, -ist angle is pretty pathetic.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Right. Because libertarians and Republicans are the same. Got it. Work on some new material Tony

  • Suki||

    He is too racially bigoted. He just picks his favorite races by the darkness of their skin.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tony,

    Not to mention the ugly racial component to Rush's shtick.

    You should not stop taking your Thorazine, Tony - you're hearing things that ain't there.

  • Tony||

    Oh really.

    “Look, let me put it to you this way: the NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it.”

    “The NAACP should have riot rehearsal. They should get a liquor store and practice robberies.”

    “They’re 12 percent of the population. Who the hell cares?”

    [To an African American female caller]: “Take that bone out of your nose and call me back.”

    “We need segregated buses… This is Obama’s America.”

    “Have you ever noticed how all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?”

    “Obama’s entire economic program is reparations.”

    Let's not forget the classic "Barack the Magic Negro."

  • Joe M||

    The segregated buses line was mocking someone else's comments on that bus fight. Barack the Magic Negro was a concept started by a LIBERAL commenter, and Rush was making fun of it. Don't just listen to the nonsense you're fed; do some research.

  • Suki||

    I always love it when the people who are "so much smarter than Rush's stupid audience" roll out things that Liberals started and crediting Rush with the invention of it.

    It was started by one of Matt's buddies at the LA Times, IIRC.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    The bone-in-the-nose is racist. It's also about as old as the hills and he apologized The rest of it?:

    Mostly Debunked.

    1, 4 and 6 are real. The rest are made up. And "Barack the Magic Negro" is not racist. Seriously, it is not. For someone who fancies himself an academic, you would think that you would appreciate a reference to the Magical Negro trope from literature, but apparently you are willing defenstrate your pseudointellectualism when it's convenient for you.

  • ||

    I thought Barack the Magic Negro was from Al Sharpton or somone like that originally. I don't know and I don't really feel like looking it up. Remember, it got pretty intense at times during campaigning, and this was during the Democratic primaries.

  • Suki||

    LA Times columnist.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Reference. And look, that well-known racist Spike Lee is the popularizer of the term.

  • Sidd Finch||

    He was right about McNabb.

  • High School Dropout||

    +0; that's a point for every Super Bowl McNabb won.

  • Soonerliberty||

    Tony, doesn't your precious Democrat Party have its own nice history with racism: slavery, segregation, internment of Japanese, socialism?

  • Tony||

    I'll give you Japanese internment, the rest, no. There is exactly one socialist in Congress, and slavery and segregation were institutions of the white south, which now finds itself comfortably at home in the GOP.

  • Soonerliberty||

    But at that time in the hands of the Dixiecrats, ever heard of them? Or have you forgotten? Funny how the most racist of the bunch were union members, and we all know what party they belong to.

    Why deny your party's history? Embrace your racist past.

  • Tony||

    Sooner you can't be this dense. The constituency that favored slavery and segregation was southern whites. They've been Democrats and they've been Republicans, historically. Now they're Republicans. That's why I'm not one.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    Okay, Tony, those are good reasons to not be a Republican... but you can't give us good reasons to be a Democrat.

  • ||

    Hmmmm you're forgetting "Sheets" Byrd, Gore the senior, and the efforts by Southern Democrats to sink Affirmative Action??

  • Suki||

    Tony, is your keeper a cracker?

    Others: Where would you rather live, in the basement with Tony or in Gaza?

  • Tony||

    I live on floor 25 of high rise with a riverside view. You'd love it. I have booze.

  • Tony||

    I could never live in a basement. The reason I love so high off the ground is to get away from the creepy crawlies. And the bums. I'm actually as much of an elitist snob as you guys, just with compassion for the less fortunate. You know like Jesus.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    Jesus was not a snob, nor would he approve of how your party uses power like a schoolyard bully.

    He wouldn't like the Republicans, either.

  • ||

    There is exactly one socialist in Congress

    Only if you count the ones with an (S) after their name. If you count the ones who belong to the Democratic Socialists of America and affiliated groups, there are about 50-70.

  • Rhywun||

    +1

    The entire Democratic machine of major east and west coast cities is openly "socialist" if you go by what they say and do. Lots of them eventually wind up rotting in Congress the rest of their lives. Reason #437 why we need to open up the two-party system, so that extremist can stop hiding behind the innocuous (and largely meaningless) "Democrat" and "Republican".

  • Rhywun||

    The whole notion that "Republicans are racists and Democrats are not" is so patently ignorant of reality. If you ever got off your altruistic high-horse and mixed with the common people, you'd learn that.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    "There is exactly one socialist in Congress"

    One can imagine Tony typing this with a tear in his eye.

  • ||

    Heard Olbermann, Montel, Matthews and their ilkd SAY FAR WORSE.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    I see Tony is again vainly attempting to impersonate a sentient being.

  • Suki||

    He is upset that his keeper gave him a plastic banana instead of a real one.

  • ||

    Tony, now that's a specious generalization, no? How can you possibly know his audience is stupid?

    Take me. I have a history degree, run a business, will go back to get a masters, write for a magazine AND have an above average IQ (whatever that means) AND I play soccer very god dang well AND make a good sandwich AND listen to Limbaugh from time to time.

    Ga'head. Spin away like you liberals do.

  • Suki||

    That sounds a little gay, but not stupid.

  • Rhywun||

    Right? I was totally gonna ask him what he doing later.

  • Tony||

    Good for you. I'm phi beta kappa, the top graduate in both of my majors, the book I wrote won the top senior prize in my university's honors program, have only made two Bs in my entire life (they were totally unfair too), play violin, and have a massive cock, and I think anyone who listens to Limbaugh is probably a humorless idiot. Try NPR.

  • ||

    Proof positive that any pimply faced pud in netland can be ANYthing he wants. Gonna have to demand proof on any of that bullshit, especially the whang.

  • ||

    Better be specific, lest he run past you that black plastic butt plug he's so very fond of.

  • Tony||

    If I show you my dick will you take my word for it on the other stuff? I don't want anyone here knowing my real name...

  • Rhywun||

    especially the whang

    Dittoes.

  • Suki||

    +1

  • ||

    Please Tony, share your book with us.

    It's also interesting that while you brag you only got 2 B's - you blame someone for getting them.

    You'll find the real world different than your school world.

  • Tony||

    Oh been out of school a while. One of those Bs was possibly deserved--it was a class on Leibniz. The other I earned for arguing an atheist position on an paper about whether god existed. Wrong answer, I guess.

  • ||

    You're the one who started with a specious statement, Tony. Truth be told, I'm not that smart - as you made so clear.

    I merely made a point to counter the weakness of your assertion. Good on you but judging on how you make blanket statements being phi beta hasn't helped a whole lot.

    I wouldn't try and "sum up" an audience's intelligence.

    And oh, I love HUMOR.

    So again, your original point makes no sense whatsoever.

  • Rhywun||

    Sorry, Rufus sounds a lot more well-rounded. I especially like a soccer player who can cook. Can you do that??

  • ||

    Tonight it's three mushroom riotto, Ryhwun. I top it off with parmiggiano; not parmesan.

    I'm also fairly competent with a drill.

    That can be interpteted in two ways if you wish.

  • ||

    risotto. Damn.

  • Suki||

    +0.5

  • Suki||

    +2

  • Suki||

    That is much sexier than someone towing the Liberal lion and offering drinks to adult women who would rather buy their own than be in the same city as ChonyMNG.

  • Thomas O.||

    Try NPR? No thanks, I just woke up.

  • RockLibertyWarrior||

    The only thing Tony has degree in is Bullshit.

  • ||

    >>his audience is very stupid *

    >>Not to mention the ugly racial component to Rush's shtick.*

    *[citation needed]

  • wolfgang||

    Tony,
    The Ghanja must have been some killer stuff to come up with this line of reaoning. Do you actually listen to the show? Have you heard him rail against people like Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton because he sees them for what they are? RACE HUSTLERS. When he points out that the "feel good liberal" attitude about blacks in this country believing they are unable to be productive and don't have a chance in society, have resulted in many of them not even trying and then blaming it all on "white society?" How these policies have basically made the inner city black populations wards of the state and have put them into a system of servitude to the government, not unlike the institution of slavery? That this situation has been going on for almost 50 years in this country, and these people are no better now than when these progams were first initiated?
    Or when he points out the hypocracy of the left when they laud people like "Sheets" Robert Bryd and how he was an active member of the KKK and how he never voted for an black Supreme Court justice in his tenure in the Senate. Or how he points out the it was the DEMOCRATS (including Bryd) that voted in lock step against the "Civil Rights" act of the 1960s.
    So telling the truth is like radio Rawanda huh.
    Tony, please post your address as I need to send you a clear glass marble. It is the only way you are ever going to be able to see clearly as long as you have that case of cranial rectal inversion.

  • Drax the Destroyer||

    Every time I see people use the word "Rush" on Reason, part of me hopes that the article/comment is really about Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart. I'm almost always dissappointed.

  • ||

    I disagree, Drax.

    I've seen quite a few Rush (the Band) threadjacks in recent years.

  • Rhywun||

    Yeah, that Rush is a frequent topic of Reasonites (especially those who are of a certain age, i.e. my age). Far more frequent than this Rush, in fact.

  • shrike||

    fat faggot! king of the rednecks!

    *has stroke*
    *falls face-first into pile of ground Lexapro, Scarface-style*

  • ||

    You openly wish for people's deaths. But it is Limbaugh who is the extremist. Project much?

  • shrike||

    Well, you want Obama assassinated because you can't stand the thought of a Black Man, trying to help people by taking your ill-gotten gains, like your former god: Monkey Bush.

  • ||

    Because there are so many posts on here of me demanding Obama's assassination. And of course it is not like people wrote entire plays about the assassination of Bush or Craig Kilborn put up his picture on national television with the caption "assassins wanted" or anything.

    Is there any part of your hideous personality that you don't project on the rest of the world?

  • shrike||

    BUt .... but... Slavery...children being forced to work in factories... rednecks... rich people having more than me... no healthcare for chain-smoking AIDS patients... Americans are inherently stupid
    ...0111010000100101001010100101001010101010101010101010101010101010000101010101010101010
    000000000000000000000000000011111111111
    1111111111111111111
    11110000000000000000000000000000000000000000002

    (Explosion)

    --3 Days later, Shrikes mother discovers his charred robotic form in her basement. 7 of her 40 cats have now turned his corpse into a playhouse.

  • Shrike||

    Stop spoofing me!

    I'm so mad you made me spill my YooHoo on my keyboard. Now I have to get my mom to clean it up, and she's busy washing my underwear!

  • The Gobbler||

    "and she's busy washing my underwear!"

    That's why I always take it out before I start playing with it.

  • Shrike||

    I was going to finish my comment too busy washing my underwear of cum stains jacking off at gay porn why trying to asphyxiate myself.

  • Mike M.||

    Projection is what jackassases like shrike do best.

  • WTF||

    Holy fuck - do you really, actually believe this? You truly are damaged goods, dude.

    Who says John's, or my, or anyone else's "gains" are "ill-gotten"? Why don't you sell all your possessions, take all you have, and give it away to charity, you hypocritical, bigoted fuck?

    You're a tick; a leech. You're a boil on the ass of the world.

  • Sidd Finch||

    I don't need medication. You need a fucking bat to the side of the head, all right?

  • Drax the Destroyer||

    Ah Mel Gibson, still the pinnacle of maniless.

    I don't think it's surprising at all that Mel Gibson was, in fact, NOT acting in the first Lethal Weapon.

    Now the true question is who, from Lethal Weapon is crazier: Mel Gibson, or Gary Busey? I have a feeling the Busmeister still edges out the Gibson Crazy 8-String Special.

  • Sidd Finch||

    Busey is 2/3 stupid, 1/3 crazy. Mel is like the Hulk with ex-wives and a drinking problem.

  • Sidd Finch||

    Go ahead, fuck it, fuck the jacuzzi. It's a thing. You have no fucking soul.

  • ||

    Say what you want about Rush Limbaugh the man is probably the best tipper in showbiz.

    He was in P-burgh for some event, possibly the NRA national meeting, and dropped a $10,000 tip on a meal costing a fraction of that. First hand knowledge.

  • ||

    I just heard the same thing about George Steinbrenner. But that was in Tampa. Not sure what he did in New York.

  • ||

    Not sure what he did in New York.

    "I gave you 7 world series championships and 11 pennants, and that is all the fucking tip you're getting outta me"

    On a notecard, left under the salt shaker.

  • Suki||

    +1

    George Costanza does the same thing.

  • Rhywun||

    Is that true?? I don't follow baseball or know anything about him, but the orgy of praise that followed his death this week *was* laced with some talk of what a dick he was.

  • Suki||

    Yes, it is true. Costanza was named the new general manager while Steinbrenner was still warm.

  • ||

    I hear Ron Jeremy is one cheap prick. Excuse the pun.

  • ||

    Wow, impressive. And nice to hear.

  • ||

    Rush did fuck one thing up. It's Friday and his guest host isn't Walter Williams.

  • Suki||

    +1

  • Joe M||

    Plastic banana:

    http://reason.com/blog/2006/07.....c-banana-g

    Still love that phrase.

  • ||

    Very good piece, Jesse, my only quibble is that I think you leave out the essential point about the phrase "dittos" or "dittoheads"— it's an example, probably one of the earliest in his career, of how he turns liberal/press criticism into mockery (in this case, the idea that his audience was mindless sheep repeating everything he said). It's not just a sign of agreement, it's an F-You to those who would insist that conservatives only agree because they can't think for themselves.

  • Jeff P||

    Mike I agree with every word you say.

  • ||

    I've never listened to much Limbaugh, but isn't the whole "ditto" business about people saying that instead of "Let me tell you how much I love your show and want to have your children?" each and every call?

  • Sidd Finch||

    No.

  • WTF||

    Yeah, the whole "ditto" thing is just one of the long-running gags on the show, but it has kinda morphed into his fans using it to say "I agree with everything you're saying". I do think that a lot of his fans actually don't get a lot of his subtle humor and think much of his schtick is sincere.

    I listen to him only now and then, but I do find him entertaining. Which is how I perceive him - entertainment.

  • ||

    "I do think that a lot of his fans actually don't get a lot of his subtle humor and think much of his schtick is sincere."

    Well, that's pretty much guaranteed about any form of satire, as the internet proves daily.

  • ||

    I do think that a lot of his fans actually don't get a lot of his subtle humor and think much of his schtick is sincere.

    And how is this any different from Tony's comments about his audience being stupid?

  • Suki||

    I thought he mentioned that on page two?

  • Almanian||

    He is the most notable example of a political species that emerged only recently: a person whose power derives not from his constituents but from his fans.

    Yeah, like our current President.

  • Almanian||

    Yeah, I know, I know....Racist!!!!1!!!

  • Suki||

    +1

  • Rhywun||

    The host knew better, but he also knew what message would sell.

    In other words, he's just the lying dirtbag that the left has always accused him of being.

    Anyway, even if I agree with him on some things, I still can't stand the character he plays.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Hey does everybody remember that totally psychotic young gay man we used to have here, Akira McKenzie?

    Anybody think that he's posting as "Tony" now, or is that just me?

  • ||

    I do remember him. And I wonder if maybe he wasn't Tony. Good catch.

  • master baiter||

    silly faggot, dicks are for chicks!

  • ||

    Not sure about Akira McKenzie -> Tony, but I have noticed when one troll goes away, another seems to take his place almost immediately.

  • ||

    Tony isn't Akira. I'm pretty sure Akira wasn't wound up as tightly on every Democratic issue, and I seem to recall pretty strong positions on religion and stuff like that, which Tony seems less interested in.

  • poopy||

    I'd rather listen to Boortz.

  • Poopeye||

    Don't make me open this whoopass size can of spinach on your ass son. I likes to smoke me pipe.

  • ||

    Limbaush"s legacy: humor.

    The guy is simply the funniest thing on radio...or tv... and the apoplexy he brings to the left makes me wet my pants.

  • Van||

    +10

  • Mike Laursen||

    Every time I have ever tried to listen to Rush Limbaugh he just came across as a tool for the Republican Party, spouting convoluted apologies for them.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    You must have missed all the shows where he expressed opposition to Bush's immigration legislation.

    Or the creation of another new entitlement with the prescription drug bill.

  • Suki||

    And urging people to vote for Hillary.

  • Tony||

    Ha... Yeah in order to promote Democratic infighting and keep the negro at bay.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    And Democrats don't promote Republican infighting?

    Hey, I'm all for it happening on both sides. I want to see blood spilled, though. Team Red and Team Blue, beating the shit out of each other... literally... would be a great wake-up call for the masses.

  • ||

    You must have missed all the shows where he expressed opposition to Bush's immigration legislation.

    Or the creation of another new entitlement with the prescription drug bill.

    Ok, yeah, but other than that...

  • ||

    +1

  • Thomas O.||

    A tool for the Republican Party? Nah, he took over the GOP long ago. Even the GOP chairman had to kiss his ring after berating him last year.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    Mike, ever listen to Ed Schultz? Same thing, other direction.

  • scott ||

    hey tony do you relise you just prove stereotypes of liberals whenever you post hear

  • ||

    Or here...

  • Van||

    Rush Limbaugh is the most successful Public Relations man in America, but who is he promoting? Rush Limbaugh!

    The show has always been about him, about what he thinks. It's amazing how difficult it is for people to get that.

    The thing that made me listen to his show was the way he spins up liberals who call in and demonstrates what irrational fools they are. That's the appeal of the show, listening to Rush beat up all those asshole liberals.

    Now when I disagree with him, I sometimes get furious. He kept describing W as a conservative and I know better. But I keep coming back because it's okay for him to be wrong sometimes.

    He's clearly not a Republican party insider. He has always opposed John McCain and never wanted him as a Presidential nominee. The Country Club/Eastern Establishment Republicans picked McCain before the primary elections were held.

    Limbaugh echoes the sentiments of all those disenfranchised people out in flyover country who get nothing but shit from liberal social engineers and who have no input into the Republican party nomination process.

    That's why the show is successful.

  • ||

    Van, I agree. And I love how he bashes liberals. Sorta like South Park. It's just funny because liberals are pipi caca.

    Someone mentioned earlier that his callers 'never' challenge him. Aside from the fact you should never say never or use phrases like 'most ever' in a critical debate, I've heard quite a few people take issue with him on air. Maybe he strictly controls this but I've heard it.

  • Van||

    He has a keen sense of what's interesting and what's boring and what's not worth discussing. Callers are filtered by these criteria.

    His imitators (Sean Hannity Et Al) and some of his guest hosts don't measure up because they have no idea what not to discuss.

    It's easy for me to tell when a critic has not listened to the show long enough to know what's going on. They make statements like, "His callers never challenge him", or "He's racist", or "He's just an entertainer."

    If liberals don't call there is no one to push around.

  • ||

    They're disenfranchised for a reason. Obama was right on the clinging to guns-n-God comment.

  • Van||

    And the reason is?

  • ||

    Disdain of education. Way too religious. The whole what's-the-matter-with-Kansas thing.

  • Van||

    Disdain of education?

    Way too religious?

    How did you determine these facts?

    Come down from your ivory tower and travel a little across the country.

    It's people who believe the public is too irrational to be trusted to make decisions who are leading us to a totalitarian state.

  • Suki||

    He promotes Lifelock, BG products, all sorts of things. He mentioned some obscure song a few months ago and it went straight to the top of YouTube.

  • Van||

    Exactly. I listened to the show briefly last week. He was talking about McDonald's defiance of some nutrition Nazis.

    I went over to McD's for the first time in years and bought a double quarter pounder as a sign of protest!

  • Van||

    Suki I forgot to add that John Stossel and Jesse Walker do product placement as well, for example this article on a book about Limbaugh.

    I'm not against that though, how else are they gonna pay the bills?

    Selling things is good capitalism, but caveat emptor.

  • Suki||

    I meant his actual commercials. His lead-ins to Lifelock remind me of the late Paul Harvey's style for some of his sponsors.

    Not sure if that song he mentioned was a product placement. Several have told me that nothing gets mentioned on big radio shows without sponsorship of some kind. Not sure how you make a whole show out of that.

  • ||

    Interesting review, but considering your emphasis on the "GOP leader" aspect you might have made reference to the shticky way he handled Steele/Afghanistan controversy

  • Jesse Walker||

    This came from the print edition of the magazine. It went to press long before there was a Steele/Afghanistan controversy.

  • Suki||

    Why does anybody call that a controversy? It is a bunch of crying MSM and HuffPo's making a fit about nothing much. IIRC, Ann Coulter covered it in more depth than Rush.

  • what the?||

    I admire his money making capabilities but whats the point of listening to him?
    It's always the same.

  • Suki||

    Other than the changing topics, evolving world events and such, yea you have a point. He uses the same set of English (sometimes Spanish) words that anybody else would use in conversation.

  • what the?||

    he is very repetitive. You virtually always know what he is going to say and what his opinions are. Don't you get bored of listening? Surely you must do?

  • Tony||

    You don't get bored of a security blanket.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    Tony, I don't like Limbaugh, either, but if you want a security blanket, you can listen to the soothing, populist tones of Thom Hartmann instead. Same result from a 180-degree application, and just as fulfilling.

  • Suki||

    Biggest surprise lately was him thinking the Audi Green Police commercial was as funny as I did, but he surprises me every day with his take on things. Usually things I didn't notice or know about.

  • ||

    Just a little bit of Spanish lingo.

  • Suki||

    +1

  • ||

    Yeah, and three years yet to go. Bummer

  • !||

    Yep hes tough alright just like how tough he was when he went to Vietnam...oh wait. Granted Ted Nugent, Bill Clinton, Dick Cheney, and Tom Tancredo also fall into this category.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Avoiding the draft is a morally heroic act.

    Going to war does not make one "tough".

  • Suki||

    He didn't "avoid" it. He showed up for his physical and the military rejected him.

  • JOR||

    Dodging the draft is probably the most decent thing all those warmongering assholes ever did.

  • Rhywun||

    OK, after all this talk I'm actually kind of interested in hearing his show, at least once, to see what the fuss is all about. I agree with much of what he says, and I'm always down for some *humorous* attacks on the left after being fed a steady diet of the opposite all my life, and while I don't like the uglier side of his nature - hey, nobody's perfect. Except Tony.

  • ||

    Rhywun, if you're like me, the bashing of liberals is what will draw you in and keep you there. He also does a good job of highlighting what MSM and liberals are saying about him and then smashing it to bits.

    I have to admit, on a couple of occasions, the media DID twist his words.

  • Suki||

    That DC station that plays his show had a replay sometime over the weekend. You can listen to their livestream on your computer or smartphone.

  • ||

    For some of the most intelligent radio since the loss of David Brudnoy, try John Batchelor (WABC, New York). Light years ahead of Limbaugh.

    http://johnbatchelorshow.com/

  • Eric||

    I'm a left leaning moderate who thinks that Rush is probably a decent human being personally. However, here's my objection to him ,and all other "personalities" in the media: He offers nothing of substance to his audience but the same tired ideology day after day. What is there left to learn from him? I'm tired of lazy thinkers in this country consuming the same old shit without ever considering other points of view. Rush can throw bombs from the sideline without ever having to be responsible for anything. He has nothing of substance to contribute to this country except to rile up his fans with the populist cause du jour. He has played a large part in cultivating the victim mentality pervading the right today. Further its people like him that are helping to drive a wedge in American society. We are losing the center in this country, and its due in large part to entertainers like Limbaugh (and Olbermann) confusing their audiences into thinking that everyone who thinks differently is the enemy of America.

  • ||

    Eric, yeah, he does that - as all people in show biz do. In my estimation, Obama is driving a bigger wedge.

  • Eric||

    Obama may be devisive to you, but his actions (like any president) are not simply initiated to divide. Unlike the talking heads, he is pursuing a policy to the best of his ability. Therefore, despite what you may think, the President's aim is first to govern this country. It's natural that those who don't share his politics will disagree with his methods. Rush, on the other hand seeks only to divide. This may be a big fun money making game to him (with half of what he says just red meat for the troops), but his goal is not a better country, it's just discord.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    Obama's goal, then, is a better country?

    Wow, are you a tool, Eric.

    And, yes, I'd say the same thing had McCain won. Fuck him AND Obama.

  • Eric||

    Nice response dickhead. It is his goal. Unless you are one of those "he's a muslim terrorist, trying to bring down the country from the inside" types. And if you are on of those, then please spare every one from any further posts, since you have nothing serious to offer anyone.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    "He has nothing of substance to contribute to this country except to rile up his fans with the populist cause du jour. He has played a large part in cultivating the victim mentality"

    Same thing can be said about Ed Schultz, from the other end of the ideological extreme. In fact, Schultz blatantly cribs his style from Limbaugh, then just shouts into a mirror.

  • Eric||

    Agreed. But it doesn't take Limbaugh off the hook. It's his style that all of these people are trying to emulate. I have no use for any of them...

  • B2||

    Fair and mostly spot-on article, Mr. Walker - with a few misconceptions.

    For the sake of show integrity and listener interest (no listeners, no ratings), callers are screened. However, callers who inform screener Bo Snerdley that they disagree are always - always - placed at the head of the line. Rush is arguably the most courteous of all talk show hosts to his callers, fans or not - and will allow them to have their say (sometimes too much, IMO). Rush enjoys more than 20 million listeners each day because he provides them with news and opinion either distorted or unreported by mainstream media.

    Rush parodies everything and everyone to drive home ideological points. You either appreciate it or you don't - but it is simply preposterous for those who commented suggesting that, for example, he is homophobic. Sir Elton John most definitely disagrees with you. As for ratings: Clinton, W, or Obama - he has always had to turn sponsors away - WH denizens have never steered his show's popularity.

    Limbaugh spends a great deal of air time combating the Left's pervasive victim and nanny state mentality - he exhorts his listeners to never give up, work hard, and succeed. Those who glibly disparage him too often forget that he is first and foremost an entertainer and business man who just happens to adhere to the principles of Reagan conservatism. That popular combination was the genesis of today's new media and legion of imitators.

    Apologies for the length; there is so much more to write, especially about his ongoing philanthropic support of military, law enforcement, and medical causes. I'll finish with dittos. Dittos started many years ago and caught on by accident merely as a way to conserve valuable air time. It does not mean you agree with the host - it means you enjoy the show. Listen every day for two weeks - you may not agree but you may begin to understand the real reasons why he is so popular.

  • Van||

    +1

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    I prefer Neal Boortz. Limbaugh's overrated in my book, though I make it a point to listen if he has Walter E. Williams as a guest host.

  • ||

    About Rush being repetitive - you have to understand the nature of talk radio audiences. People tune in for short periods of time - maybe once or twice a show. If you want to hear repetitive try ESPN Radio! Rush is a long, long way from perfect but criticism based on him being repetitve is like being annoyed that water is wet.

  • ||

    So was The Big Fat Idiot being his sincere self or playing a radio character when he called Michael J. Fox a faker, while doing that little chicken-dance thing that mocked Fox's shaking?
    How anyone could defend that obnoxious @-hole is beyond me.
    And I hate lefties more than anyone I've ever met.

  • ||

    I believe MJF deliberately stopped taking his medication so that his symptoms would become more pronounced for the video he made.

    Not exactly faking, but not exactly being honest, either.

  • ||

    I'm confused. Are the people on this forum saying that the Rush Limbaugh show is fake and that Rush is a character on that show? Do the people that listen to it know this? I ask this seriously because i see these Rush is right bumper stickers and talk to people that quote him and seem to belive everything out of his mouth. I honestly didn't know this. I listened to him for a few years in the 90's but got tired of saying Bull Shit after almost every fact he stated. Like when he said there are more American Indians alive today then there ever has been in history. Which is simply not true.
    So now i get it its all a joke. When my friends quote him from now on i'll say "yeah that was a good joke he made. Letterman had a good joke too... let me tell you about it"

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