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A historian’s memorial to Rush Limbaugh

I originally posted the essay below a year ago when we first learned that Rush Limbaugh was seriously ill with lung cancer. With his passing today, I think it needs to be reread, with an addendum at the end.

A historian’s memorial to Rush Limbaugh (February 4, 2020)

It was very strange to me to hear yesterday’s sad announcement by Rush Limbaugh that he had been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. In the last six months or so my mind had actually been contemplating the fact that Limbaugh had been doing his show for more than three decades, was in his late sixties, and was not immortal. I had been trying to imagine what it would be like when he was no longer a fixture in the daily news reporting cycle, and I had been failing. I couldn’t imagine it.

Now it appears we might all be finally facing it. As they say, reality bites.

For those who have listened to him regularly these past three decades, the loss will be immeasurable. Without question Rush Limbaugh has been the best political analyst, from a conservative perspective, for the past half century. You might disagree with his opinions, but no one has been as correct and as pertinent and as thoughtful, consistently getting to the heart of every political battle, and doing it in an amazingly entertaining manner.

I first heard Rush Limbaugh back in 1988, when I lived in New York and was starving for a different and refreshing perpective on the news.

This was before the internet. Pretty much all news reporting and analysis was filtered through the three major networks (CBS, NBC, ABC), the public radio news outlet of NPR, and the cable network of CNN. All were liberal Democratic outlets, though in those days they actually did try to report news correctly, and in detail. Their problem was not that they were blatant operatives for the Democratic Party (which is what they are today) but that they were trapped in that liberal bubble. They had almost no one to talk to who could give them a different perspective, and thus all their analysis was written and reported from that liberal point of view. Even when they gave space for dissent, they could not help but portray it as a fringe view, because that was how they saw it from their daily experience.

For me, who liked to hear many points of view, I found this sameness of thought boring. I wanted more, and was having trouble finding it.

I was then very much a night owl, doing most of my writing in the afternoon and evening. As part of my slow waking-up process, I would get up about 9 am, go down to the corner newsstand, get a paper, come up and read it for an hour or so. Then I’d begin making lunch about 11 am. While I did so I would scan the talk radio dial for something to listen to.

The late 1980s was the moment when conservative talk radio was about to be born. The Reagan administration had quietly lifted the fairness doctrine so that radio and television no longer had to give time to both sides of every political argument. That rule, considering the liberal bent of all major news outlets, had essentially worked very well to stifle most conservative political analysis.

Now, however, open political discussion was finally possible on the public airways, and Rush Limbaugh’s show was the first to take advantage of this in a big way. Initially his show in New York was four hours long, with the first hour a local show for WABC-AM and the remaining three hours his national syndicated broadcast. He would open each of those four hours with a fifteen to twenty minute monologue, which in itself was refreshing as it allowed him to discuss his topic with some depth.

He was also decidedly not liberal. He looked at the news from a more conservative, traditional perspective. And he definitely did not treat the liberal Democratic point of view as the default. Instead, he questioned it, bluntly.

And finally, and most important, he was hilarious and entertaining. He was incredibly fun to listen to, whether or not you agreed with him.

It did not take long for his show to succeed, with its syndication soon spreading like wildfire. In only a few years there was not a city or town anywhere in the U.S. where you could not hear it.

It also did not take long for the liberal mainstream culture to see him as an enemy that must be taken down, by any means necessary. They tried slander. They tried boycotts. They tried threats.

Nothing worked. Since all the attacks were untrue, and his syndication was structured in such a way that no one could cancel him easily, he simply smiled, laughed the attacks off, and moved on.

Now, after more than thirty years, he may soon be leaving us. It will be a great loss. Possibly more than any other person, Rush Limbaugh changed the political and cultural landscape of the United States in the past three decades. Before him, there was only one perspective on the news. After him there were thousands. He gave this country its freedom from accepted wisdom, tightly held dogma, and a liberal mindset that has calcified our intellectual social order.

No longer were free-thinking Americans like myself condemned to listen to a chorus of liberal ideas, with no push back. Limbaugh showed that there was an audience for other perspectives, and that money could be made expressing them. The political debate would never be the same.

In the future there will be historians writing about the American political drama during these last few decades. For them to tell that story right, they will be required to include Limbaugh’s appearance on that scene, and how he changed it. To ignore his importance would be to write bad history.

In a free society, politics is never simple or one-sided. It requires debate, and disagreement, and argument. Only then can that free society reach a wise decision on what to do.

Rush Limbaugh made such debate possible again in the United States. As a nation we must never forget this.

And while he is not yet gone from us, we must face up to the fact that he is human, and soon will be. His legacy however will live on, for generations, as many others have and will continue to take up his banner and force a debate on the issues of the day. No longer will one view dominate the airways.

Rush Limbaugh has set it free.

Thank you Rush. I give you my heartfelt dittos!

Addendum, February 17, 2021, on the passing of Rush Limbaugh

The last time I listened to Rush Limbaugh live was about three weeks ago. During that particular show he tried at one point to express something he knew would sound wrong, no matter how he said it.

You see, after thirty years of trying to convince the American public that freedom, limited government, and the rule of law were good things, Limbaugh had watched in the last year all these ideas abandoned by the American people. Deep down, he felt that his life’s work had been a failure, but it seemed to him ill-mannered and ungracious to say so on the air. All he could do was hint at it.

Yet I understood exactly where he was coming from. Like Limbaugh I have strived in all my histories and much of my writing to explain the glory of the American experiment in freedom and self-government. And yet, I have been entirely unable to get anyone who needs to learn these facts to listen. Nor am I alone. Anyone who has tried to celebrate America and its principles since the 1960s has consistently found that they were summarily rejected by the modern post-sixties culture. America was wrong! Another way must be found! And stop telling us otherwise.

We are now approaching the end of that road to tyranny. Too many young Americans are now completely ignorant of what it means to be a free American, and in fact if you even hinted that they were a free American many would be horrified to be associated with that concept. The American dream has been squashed, and it will likely take a generation or two to bring it back.

This sad perspective does not mean we should not try. No, in fact every American who believes in freedom, in self-government, in personal responsibility, in the rule of law, in equal treatment before the law, in the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, and the central ideals expressed in that first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, is now required even more so to proclaim those ideals, over and over and over again. Be not afraid, even as the jack-booted thugs that now run our society try to silence you.

Tell them, like Rush Limbaugh, you will not be silenced, and like him, you will speak loudly and confidently, and most of all, do so with pride and courage.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.


  • John Eastman

    I feel like I’ve lost a brother. I’ve listened to him every day since one week following “9 11.” I was searching for ‘truth’ and couldn’t find it elsewhere.

    Thank you Rush.

  • Cotour

    11 years ago almost to the day, this is what had me very worried about the general political situation in America:

    I thought: “CRAP! There is no other American on the radio at this moment in time to lead the rational American patriot other than Rush Limbaugh”. “Rush can not check out now!”.

    “What are we going to do if he dies or is incapacitated right now?” I thought.

    And I stuck with that thinking and concern and had no answer to my question until I learned that he was going to be OK. Close call I thought. I had recently just the other day suspected that he was not doing well and could die at any time because of all of the guest hosts that were in the line up covering for him lately. And now he is gone after a 13 month battle with cancer.

    I have listened to Rush since he began his radio show, and I know the date that he started it, it was coincidentally on my birthday, August 1st. And I enjoyed his particular take on things and his style, which many people I know did not appreciate as I did. Many disliked and some even hated him. They saw his bloviating and hyper style as being only arrogant. I understood it to be unique and his technique in solidly communicating his thinking and interpretation on the subjects that he thought important and commented on. Rush was no dummy.

    Rush was a master political analyst, he was like a laser beam when things were going down. I would also consider him an expert in football and baseball, he loved Apple tech products and technology in general and airplanes. Although I would catch him now and then talking about something he was not as up on as he might have been. For instance he was not a big supporter of going to and living on Mars. It did not make sense to him and I understood why, because Its a friggin wasteland 30 million miles away and there was no air to breath! Why would you leave the beauty of Gods earth for such a place? He did not get it, and I have to admit I do not get it for many of the same reasons.

    I forget the exact comment he had made about Mars but he did not understand that it did not have a magnetic field and misspoke on the subject. And I thought, “No Rush, that is not right, you are going to have to correct yourself. And as I remember he did later in the show or the next day correct his misunderstanding. And as we all know Rush was documented to be 99.94% correct, and he would always correct himself when found to be in error.

    But getting back to the general talk radio landscape and those who are here to help take up the slack now that he is gone is great, where at the time of his heart attack scare there were essentially none. And I did not agree with every position or interpretation that Rush had. But then again I do not agree with most anyone all the time. That being said I thought Rush was an intellectual force to be reckoned with and he served a vital purpose in America in keeping, in my opinion, the proper American oriented political perspective and the preservation of the Constitution and what the Founders intended. Simple.

    And when I detect that as being genuine in anyone we are then brothers and on the same page and are one and true and I will follow that and support that 100 percent. I tell women when they admit that they agree with my positions on issues, and those who I know secretly agree with me (And Rush, and The Zman and all the rest) sisters of the brotherhood. I do not leave women out of this brotherhood, I encourage them and welcome them. As I welcome all races and creeds and orientations, we are all Americans first and if you do not understand that then you can be divided and conquered. And Rush understood the same, people would call him “Racist”, and like me I knew that Rush did not have one racist bone in his body. Rush understood mutual respect.

    But that was the only thing that the Left could say to divide people against Rush and his growing power and influence, “RUSH LIMBAUGH IS A RACIST!”. Lie! Show me. And that could never be done.

    Rush understood that its mutual respect that is what is important and the talk of racism was just a technique of manipulation that the Left used to keep the bright tribal lines drawn. Because the Left can not afford such rational and honest thinking to take hold, and Rush clearly understood this at his core, that is what he truly believed, as do I.

    In closing, I will miss Rush and his analysis and his humor. He would crack me up when he would put on the little girl voice and would begin to riff to make a point. I would be laughing out loud picturing him as a little girl with the microphone in front of him utterly intellectually destroying whom ever need destroying at the moment. There was no other.

    You will be missed Rush, but you have served your country and its people well, you are now I am certain in a better place and at peace. I will remember and honor your worthwhile efforts here on earth every day.

  • David Telford

    “…Democratic point of view as the default. Instead, he questioned it, bluntly. And finally, and most important, he was hilarious and entertaining.”

    The NYT characterized Rush’s work as misogynistic and racist language. It’s the meaning of the words. Blunt is misogynistic if I don’t like what is said. Hilarious and entertaining are clearly racist if I don’t like what is said. The abuse of the language is getting old, but they must still be getting some traction out of it. The sheltered ignorance it represents – on full display for those that can see – is disheartening.

    Today is a sad day. The Leftists and their organs have to pile on with hyperbole, once again showing their qualities. Too much to show some respect for what a sizable fraction of America held dear? Just be silent if nothing more.

  • David M. Cook

    Remember “Caller Abortions”? That‘s the first thing I heard on Rush‘s show. Cracked me up! Then he said “I‘m just a guy playing sounds on the radio, but abortion happens 3,000 times each day for real”. I knew right then he was someone I wanted to listen to. That was in 1990, and I never stopped listening. God Bless You, Rush Limbaugh!

  • Mitch S.

    I too started listening to Rush in 1988.
    A friend recommended the show, but what really got me interested was “The Leftists and their organs piling on with hyperbole”
    (to paraphrase David T). I kept being told how this Rush guy was so terrible, racist, misogynist, downright evil and nobody should listen to him. I had to find out who this guy driving the media (and other Libs) crazy was.
    Of course what I discovered was an intelligent, decent, common sense person who drove the Libs crazy with his sensible positions and somewhat silly sense of humor (as Rush often pointed out, Libs will laugh at those they want to belittle but have no real sense of humor).
    (Was I the only person who listened to Howard Stern in the morning and Rush Limbaugh in the afternoon? Two radio pioneers who shared more than a birthday).
    One thing about Rush that is extremely rare even today was his patience and willingness to discuss issues with liberal callers. He let them speak and actually listened, then used his intellect to politely destroy their arguments. Something you won’t hear on show like Hannity or Levin.

    Much more can be said… but did Rush fail (I also heard that show a few weeks ago)? I think not – otherwise Trump would never have been elected (and GW Bush too). The man who created the template for Rush was Reagan (“Ronaldo Maximus”), it would behoove us to look at how Reagan and Rush connected with people.

  • Jeff Wright

    Boortz was a little brighter on some things-and of course todays google doodle featured yet another Marxist with no results on any any disagreement. Maybe we need a Carrington Event or EMP after all.

  • The success of both Rush, and Trump, has much to do with their willingness to give voice to what millions had ALREADY figured out, but was not considered socially acceptable by their “betters”.

    They keep telling us that the following of both men were cults-of-personality. They have it bass-ackwards – these two strong voices were/are a reflection of ordinary Americans who are not full of themselves, unlike our elites.

  • Jeff Wright

    Long before the Gov of New York went full Mengele on his older subjects, I heard a talking head here in Alabama wanting to do the same. There are a lot of medical mistakes-and I remember a lot of “duty-to-die” talk in the medical field.
    A nurse who remembered his cigar aff’ cover may easily have had a light touch with the morphine drip.
    Harvard Doctors always had an easier time shutting down business friendly folks than their Green friends. This time, for keeps.

  • Captain Emeritus

    Dittos, Rush!

  • Jester Naybor observed: “. . . but was not considered socially acceptable by their “betters”.

    And a self-imposed silence because one side observed ‘socially acceptable’, and the other did not: indeed, re-defined ‘socially acceptable’. cf: Patrick Moynihan

    As for ‘betters’: I’m an American. ‘Seldom equaled; never bettered.’

  • Cotour


    Here, Joe Biden is in a meeting the other day, and he is wearing two masks. Have you ever tried to listen to someone wearing two masks? I have, you can not hear anything. And to top it off, Joe has already supposedly received the vaccine! Now does that make sense to anyone? It does not to me.

    AND are you telling me that sitting in the White House, the center of American government, that the environment can not be controlled in a safe manner in order that the “Most powerful man on earth” can have a meeting and photo op? Just more hollow bovine effluent virtue signaling. But then that is Joe Biden’s greatest personal super power.

    And while this is going on he has had a two hour, I suppose instructional phone call with president Xi of Communist China. He says in an interview that the Communist Chinese documented systematic genocide of the Uighurs in China by the millions is just the result of a “Difference in cultural norms”. That is what president Joe Biden says about documented genocide, its just a difference in cultures. And I suppose he would have had the same opinion on Mr. Hitler also in 1936? And Pol Pot in Cambodia? They were just “Cleansing” their cultures as is accepted and now normal.

    Joe Biden suggests China’s Uighur genocide is ‘different cultural norms’ (

    If you voted for Joe Biden this is the leadership you have bought. Or should I say this is what the political parties in power and their minions had installed in the position of the president in our now dead Democracy. Well done Democrats and RINO Republicans, its all out there now. America is now officially pro cultural genocide. You consider yourself a great human Rights advocate?

    Well you are a fraud now, as is your president, as are we all now. But do you feel good about yourself? Because that is really what is important.–~D

  • Frank

    Here’s Rush 30 years ago on Firing Line with William F. Buckley. He describes the left with the same clarity then.

  • Mike

    I haven’t listened to Rush every day of the week, but I’ve checked in on his show often over the years. Oh jeez, decades technically!
    (I prefer Jon Batchelor for my talk radio, which is how I ended up here on Bob’s page)
    I have to say that his personal bout with addiction was humbling and ultimately a humanizing event.
    People on both sides piled on with insults and castigation, and provided me immense insight on our twisted society.

    Elevate celebrity, just to viciously tear them down.

    But that didn’t stop that man, he learned and grew as he picked himself up and carried on.
    Disagree with his views all you want, but you must recognize his contribution to societal discourse and his immensely relatable struggle with everyday life.

    Rest easy Rush.

  • eddie willers

    I have to say that his personal bout with addiction was humbling and ultimately a humanizing event

    I rarely disagreed with his position on anything, but drugs were one. This is when he was probably at his heaviest weight and he is going on about how nobody should tell what he should put in his body. He would then go on a rant about marijuana and I thought, “you’re contradicting yourself, Rush”.

    And then one day, I realized that he hadn’t said such a thing for quite some time. Later, we learn of his addiction. He had just stopped cold because he had that “humbling and ultimately a humanizing event” and now understood. One thing you can say about Rush, he was NO hypocrite.

  • Cotour

    Another tribute to Rush:


    The delusion of the political RINO elite and those who see themselves as the next president in line by Right. (Just like Hillary) The Democrat and Republican professional politicians only see things from the perspective of Washington D.C. and their alleged power and electability. And sees nothing from the perspective of the voters.

    Niki Haley wants a sit down with Trump AFTER she trashes him and says, “We should have never followed him”.

    REPORT: Nikki Haley Tried to Get a Meeting With Trump — But He Shot Her Down (

    Niki Haley: “I think he’s going to find himself further and further isolated,” Haley said after January 6.”

    “I think his business is suffering at this point. I think he’s lost any sort of political viability he was going to have.”

    “I think he’s lost his social media, which meant the world to him.”

    “I mean, I think he’s lost the things that really could have kept him moving.”.

    “I don’t think he’s going to be in the picture,” she said, matter-of-factly.”

    “I don’t think he can. He’s fallen so far.”

    Does she really think?

    1. Wake up call: Niki Haley has no chance of becoming the president, EVER. Not as a Republican anyway.

    2. She sees Trump as being over and ruined. And Trump now in fact controls or has major influence with a majority of the Republican voter base, 75 million to be exact.

    How dumb and self absorbed is this woman?

  • Alex Andrite

    Thanks for your ties, your teas, your books for my grandchildren, Standing Up for Betsy Ross, and so much more !
    Take your break now Rush, rest in Peace, it is ok to untie the other half of your brain now.

    Not from Rio Vista, but close enough,

  • Jeff Wright

    Rush was a free trader early on. Remember that Buckley types said the same things about pro-border Democrats that today’s Trump haters also say against populists- that they are knuckle-draggers, boors. A border and a picket line both keep wages up. Both Ronnie and Chavez knew that. In my parents day, Dems were poor plant workers who went to church. The plant owner who never darkened the churchouse door was the only Republian. He was out on the links with the town doctor, the so-called mayor, and the sell-out union rep was the caddy. They loved to hear early Rush red-bait the little people. Red-baiting today’s democrats is also in bad form. It is an insult to the Communists who built the Soviet space program to compare them to Maxine Waters.

  • Cotour


    I want to share a conversation that I am engaged in regarding my email / post regarding Rush Limbaugh. This is an older female customer who became a friend who I like very much and she likes me just the same. She replies to my Rush piece:
    Her response: “He was a racist and a bigot and I, for one am glad that he is gone.”
    My response: “1. Rush, as I mentioned I listened to Rush pretty much every day and he was not either a racist, nor was he a bigot. And you can not provide any evidence that establishes that, other than what the Leftist media told you to think about him that is.
    Q: How often did you listen to his radio program?

    2. I am willing to bet that you agree with most of all of his positions, just like I am certain you agree with most all of my positions on many issues.

    3. Please don’t be so hateful. Why are those who characterize themselves as being on the Left / Democrat are so hateful and violent? I think it is an indicator of insecurity.

    4. Luckily I no longer have my concerns about who on radio will lead the Conservative movement in America, there are plenty to fill the void now :)”
    My follow up after not receiving a response:

    I am still waiting for all of the examples of where Rush demonstrated that he was racist and a bigot.

    Other than your Liberal / Democrat indoctrination can you find any examples? I listened to him for 30 years and never heard any, but you say he was. How many hours / years did you listen to him on the radio?

    If you are calling Rush a racist and a bigot, then you are calling me the same. And again, you can not find one person on the planet that will give you any evidence of that. Just like Rush.

    Where things get stupid is the Democrats, the Liberals, the Leftists that you SAY that you agree with and support, they MUST have racism in order to control their base and keep them from thinking for themselves lest they not vote Democrat. “Racism” in politics is all about control and drawing bright tribal lines.

    So I know you know NOTHING about Rush Limbaugh, all you know is what you have been told by those who in politics and media who need you programmed to think and say as they indicate. Rush Limbaugh (Just like Trump) plainly revealed them and was a threat to their power aspirations and that is why they did what they did in having to label him as a racist.

    I think you need to think a bit deeper than what you have in the past.

    For example: Do you agree that during a pandemic especially, the border should be opened and the government encourage illegal aliens to enter the U.S.A. illegally? You are locked in your home scared to get the virus, and your government that you have chosen is flooding the country with illegals, who may well re infect the country, who will have to be taken care of in your hospitals and possibly exclude you or your family members from receiving care. AND who will be taking the jobs of the lowest paid workers during a time of high unemployment caused by the virus?

    And I know you not are insane and would never agree with the true facts that I have presented above, but that is exactly what you have voted for.

    Does this make any sense to you? Again, I know you are not insane.

    (I wait to see if she will respond)

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