Don’t Rest In Peace

A witticism attributed to Mark Twain has always resonated with me. (I tend to be bitchy.) Twain is quoted as saying “I’ve never wished for a man’s death, but I’ve read several obituaries with pleasure.”

Precisely my reaction when I learned of Rush Limbaugh’s demise.

There has been no dearth of columns/obituaries marking the death of this truly horrible man, and ordinarily I wouldn’t bother to add to their number–had I not been in the middle of The Sum of Us by Heather McGhee, and had I not come across this article from Vox.

I referred to The Sum of Us a few days ago, reporting on Michelle Goldberg’s column describing the book. I can now attest to its importance; McGhee paints an absolutely devastating–and overwhelmingly documented–picture of the ways in which racial animus has hurt not just the Black and brown objects of that animus, but everyone else. Racism, as she amply illustrates, is why Americans “can’t have nice things,” the none-too-veiled reason for the country’s disinvestment in public goods and refusal to construct an adequate social safety net.

Limbaugh, of course, was one of the loudest and most effective purveyors of that racism–along with generous amounts of misogyny, homophobia and Christian Nationalism.

Which brings me to the Vox article, which traces the considerable role played by “Christian” radio stations in abetting Limbaugh’s rise. The article reminds readers that Limbaugh “didn’t emerge from a vacuum.” He and his toxic message were part of a “Christian-based radio ecosystem” that promoted his message and allowed it to thrive.

The late Rush Limbaugh’s far-reaching and toxic impact on conservative America and the Republican party is well-known and well-documented. Still, there’s one aspect of his legacy, specifically his cultural dominance in the 1990s, that’s difficult to convey in the post-internet era: Limbaugh’s pivotal role in the ascension of conservative talk radio and the pivotal role that conservative radio played in emboldening modern conservative populism.

For many years throughout the Clinton era, Limbaugh’s daily radio program, The Rush Limbaugh Show, was synonymous with conservative political media and part of a larger burgeoning conservative radio ecosystem. The show, which aired for three hours each afternoon across America, began syndicating nationally in 1988 — incidentally the same year that famed evangelist minister Billy Graham delivered the benediction for both the Republican and Democratic national conventions. If you can’t imagine that happening today, it’s due in large part to the political polarization Limbaugh himself helped engender. In fact, Graham’s brand of evangelical Christianity spread across many of the same airwaves that also aired Limbaugh’s brand of toxic conservative bigotry.

That radio ecosystem also featured Dr. James Dobson’s daily Focus on the Family spots,  promoting “pro-life,” creationist, and anti-gay political opinions. Dobson was then the head of the Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center classified as an extremist group.

It was within this pervasive atmosphere of pumped-up, aggressively combative evangelism and overtly polarizing political messages that Rush Limbaugh gained popularity. His show was another piece of the rapidly coalescing image of America’s new conservative — one in which Limbaugh’s lack of Christian empathy somehow became a feature, not a bug, of the modern conservative movement.

For at least three decades, Limbaugh and his ilk have been the public face of conservative “Christianity.”  It took a long time for those I consider to be authentic Christians to speak out–to publicly reject the hateful and aggressive politicized version of the religion that was repelling young people and Americans of good will. Those dissenting voices have become stronger, but whether they can counter the appeal of the White supremacy/Trumpian version of Christianity remains to be seen.

As the Vox article makes clear, the effect of Christian conservative radio on America’s political discourse has been profound– well before the 2016 election, the format played a huge role in shifting the views of once-centrist Republicans toward the far right. As the author notes, “Many of us haven’t listened to Rush Limbaugh in decades, but we’re all still feeling his influence daily, like it or not.”

His voice will most definitely not be missed.


  1. Love it or hate it, there is enough insatiable diet for Limbaugh speak in the conservative air waves to keep milking the market. Some call it the after life. ?

  2. For decades, blue color workers drove low option Pick up trucks and delivery vans with AM only radios. Rush targeted those men. He managed to convince them that THEY were the real victims in our society. He also played his special happy music and had a celebration when Gay people passed from AIDS. He was a corrosive evil prick and I am so very glad he has assumed room temperature. YAY.

  3. Of course Limbaugh was a corrosive evil prick (Well said, prick). I’m not so sure that he found an audience as much as the audience found him. And it wasn’t just the blue collar delivery drivers with AM radio. That audience included white collar, college educated white men and women too.

    A great portion of our populace is steeped in hate, fear and willful ignorance. We’ve kicked that can around on this blog for years. They were there before, during and after slavery stained our national spirit. There HAS to be “the other” with these pathetic wretches, because who else would they blame for their own failures as human beings? They are the intellectually laziest among us, and Limbaugh,, fed them what they’d always needed: transference of low self-esteem.

    Why else would another evil prick, Donald Trump, imbue the Presidential Medal of Freedom on that fetid object floating in our national punch bowl? Speaking of floaters: Don’t forget that G.H.W. Bush awarded Milton Friedman one of those awards too. Republicans just can’t get enough of incompetent hatefulness, hypocrisy and utter stupidity.

    The CPAC orgy in mass vomit will underscore the institution of idiocy. I’m sure there’ll be a eulogy for Limbaugh as the hateful, closed minds celebrate their utter stupidity, perfidy and disdain for our Constitution – both letter and intent – and all the ideals of egalitarian thinking. They don’t think. All they can do is hate.

  4. It saddened me no end to see the local Catholic Church flying flags half-mast for Limbaugh as Governor Desantis had directed.

  5. I wish someone would explain to me what is conservative (political or otherwise) or Christian about hatred, racism, bigotry, anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim, anti-LGBTQ, sexism, denying food, health care, jobs, equal pay, homes, the list is endless and the victims are countless. Many of those who followed Rush “religiously” were and remain after his demise, among the victims of his daily tirades and those his words supported.

    “For at least three decades, Limbaugh and his ilk have been the public face of conservative “Christianity.”

    And Donald Trump bestowed the Medal of Freedom on Rush Limbaugh before their collective adoring crowds; lowering the meaning of this once highest honor bestowed by this country. The outcome of Trump’s speech today at the CPAC could make or break the Republican party with Rush’s words still in the minds of his followers. We, the supporters of democracy, Rule of Law and supporters of the Constitution will be the ones who will “Rest In Peace” at the demise of Donald Trump when he joins Rush Limbaugh in whatever form of afterlife awaits such as both of them.

  6. Sorry, Pat. I meant patmcc. Your code at 5:30 in the morning is a challenge for those of us who haven’t had their second cup of coffee.

  7. When the history of this era is written I doubt that Limbaugh will get much attention… a footnote at best. As in *an extremists radio show host who helped advance hatred and divisiveness.
    That’s it. The sum total of Rush Limbaugh’s life.

  8. A former friend’s father-in-law was a truck-driving Christian. Very much involved in his church and would pray over every meal. He also listened to Rush, and once he started sharing, the hate would spew out.

    How can anyone attend church regularly be filled with the Holy Spirit yet have that much hate in them at the same time?

    I’d say that the Devil’s handiwork is working among the religious hypocrites all across the land. I am sure there is plenty of scripture pointing to this in the study of eschatology. 😉

  9. NoDak,the fish hole is open. every American flag is at half staff. i went to bismarck/mandan yesterday to pick up my work that i paid for,to further my ongoing projects,who died? rush stupid. im stupid? i see/heard the purveyer of lies and of paid division who,couldnt take contradictions to his spin and outright lies on the air,became a closed cell amoeba, ( too much credit im sure)and shutout the desent against him,and i stupid? this fella is someone i have debated in lenth about his desire to undermine the fabric of America,and ill be frank, your next goverment will be wall street,and your voice will mean nothing. he said great,its better than biden..he of course walked off muttering something about now, biden wants to stop us from going to church…er, ya gotta hear this shit to believe it. some site called x22 he said, he heard it on.. well, then try and read what Biden said, first,instead of spinning your cake for others..( the maon issue is,these folks are to damn lazy to read,and seeks news that is real/they want to be told what they want to hear)being im scared to death of even looking up said site and leaving my ip address, ill just walk away. the USPO check, gov ag office, check,three co,court houses check,assorted,hey,one still up there,thanks,i hope, and the bismarck perkins rest,one of those flags a biguns,half staff.. its official,while,the NoDak legislature is in NoDak,weve become a nation of our own demise. thanx rush,your nation has gone off the deep end while big money paid you well to distroy what millions fought for,and died for. what great tribute can we garner for your services to the present health of our country? someone write me directions and ill send a selfie of me shitting on his grave….

  10. Normally, most obnoxious things eventually pass and new obnoxious things take their place, but I doubt that anything will ever displace the intolerance and hate spewed by Rush Limbaugh on the public’s airwaves. He made ‘anti-intellectualism’ respectable for too large a swath of the American people, and we’re stuck with it because it has become ‘the Other Party’ in our democracy.
    I can only recall the most famous and accurately observable volume ever written on this topic:
    Hofstadter, Richard, ‘Anti-Intellectualism in American Life’.
    It does provide some comfort, if comfort is defined as having gone through this before and survived, but it also alarms the reader to keep the eyes and ears open, and learn the coded words used by it to gain respectability.

  11. I’m sure everyone saw the golden calf (Trump) statue that was rolled out at CPAC yesterday. I had to laugh, but I also had a vision of Moses coming down from the mount, only instead of just throwing down the tablets, he ran screaming away from his “followers.”

    Todays Republican Party makes “Book of Mormon” look like a serious treatise on religion.

  12. I thought the numbers were in the millions that listened to Rush, like 30 millions listeners! That’s enough hate for a generation! My brother and sister both listened to that jerk (the polite word as I’m trying to stop cussing so much). We had 45 because of Rush. He was a huge influence to boomers! My classmate from middle and high school listened to him too. I mocked him in conversation and she smiled and said “I love Rush.” That was it. I had to leave. I think she’s on Parler now with the other Q supporters that thinks the election was stolen. I haven’t unfriended her yet but that’s because she’s been so quiet lately. Another evangelical hypocrite.

    Did anybody watch the Q special on CNN last night? It was downright terrifying what those people believe. They are not in our reality which is exactly how Rush kept his audience tuned in. Frankly I blame Rush for 45 and All of the hate!

  13. One reason it took progressive Evangelicals (yes, there IS such a thing) so long to speak out against the decidedly un-Christian turn of their peers is that the power centers of Evangelicalism (very wealthy and male-dominated) viciously slapped down anyone who tried. People were driven out of the church and careers were ruined. Notably, many of the progressive Evangelical voices who are finally gaining some traction are women. They are fighting against the very well-entrenched patriarchy that dominates fundamental Christianity, which has always treated women with disdain.

  14. This quote is quite frequently attributed to Mark Twain as it certainly has a ‘Twain’ ring to it, but it was actually said by Clarence Darrow.

  15. I’m a boomer who never listened to Mr. Limbaugh. He challenges my UU belief that we all have inherent worth and dignity. He obviously did not believe in our first principle.

    He obviously forgot that Jesus is quoted as saying that we should love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.

    I turn people like him over to my Higher Power and then try my best to ensure they don’t rent a lot of space in my head so that I can maintain my peace of mind. People like him are not worth the price of my serenity.

  16. Listening to Ted Cruz’s speech at CPAC yesterday I wonder if Rush’s microphone won’t be his next gig now that we know how expensively such idiocy in the Whitehouse ends for all of us. Instead of costing us let it be that he costs those companies like Mr. Pillow who choose to sponsor the end of the republic.

    Cruz’s speech ended with a full-throated bellow of “freedom” although he omitted the thought that he was really thinking: for me at the expense of others, for those like us at the expense of them.

    The show has changed from The Last Days of Our Country last year to the Last Days of Our GOP this year. The DJT failure worm is insatiable.

    Let it be.

  17. In the park where I live (with this year off due to the virus) I had a neighbor (Bob, retired from Ohio) who was to the right of Atilla the Hun, and one day I saw him outside and stopped to chat. A private jet went over and I explained to him that such costs of flying executives to and from Naples every week to New York were deductible and that he was helping as a taxpayer to pay for it. He was incredulous and while we were verbally sparring he suddenly said he had to go inside to hear Rush Limbaugh.

    Limbaugh’s influence will, I hope, go away eventually, but it won’t be tomorrow. Our task is to hang tough, deny such seditious chatter, and blunt all attempts to destroy our democracy “from all enemies, foreign OR domestic.”

  18. Nancy C., there could have been other reasons for the Catholic Church to have lowered its flag. (Though I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a flag at a Catholic Church.) Just after Limbaugh died, we hit one half million Covid-19 deaths and he asked flags to be lowered for five days. Then there were undoubtedly some other deaths which might have been memorialized by the lowering of the flag. Color me a skeptic that a Catholic Church lowered its flag for Rush Limbaugh.

  19. I meant to say President Biden asked for flags to be lowered for 5 days after we hit 500,000 Covid deaths.

  20. In the early days of Limbaugh he created a telling phrase for his non-intellectual unthinking sycophants. They would call and merely say “ditto!” Ultimately his early tribe became recognized as ditto-heads. All that really needs to be said.

  21. Gerald, you remind me of a friend, whose neighbor will interrupt a conversation to go to watch Hannity’s shit-show!
    The only good thing about the golden donald statue, is that it can not talk!
    Whether it was Darrow (thanks) or Twain, indeed, there are some people whose passing is a cause for celebration: J.Edgar Hoover, Scalia, Bimbobaugh, for some quick references. When is McTurtle going? Oh, did I say that?
    The hatred, and fear of the “other,” that Rush tapped into was there long before he came along, and it is very sad that religion, of all things, feeds it.

  22. From The Guardian:

    A “golden statue” of Donald Trump that has caused a stir at the annual US gathering of conservatives was made in Mexico – a country the former president frequently demonized.

    The statue is larger than life, with a golden head and Trump’s trademark suit jacket with white shirt and red tie. Video and pictures of the tribute being wheeled through the halls of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, went viral on Friday.

    Now the artist behind the huge statue of Trump – Tommy Zegan – has revealed that the object was made in Mexico.

    My Side Bar – I guess the GOP has just confirmed The Trump Cult of “The Golden Calf” is alive and well. Limbaugh and Fox news paved the way for The Trumpet’s deification.

    You probably would need to go back to Stalin Era to find a similar subservient veneration on display. I suppose in the Stalin context Pastor Pence has become Trotsky, along with any others in the GOP who have parted with The Trumpet.

  23. Paul K. Ogden; below is a copied and pasted Fox News article quoting Florida Governor DeSantis:

    “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, R., plans to lower the state’s flags to half-staff in honor of radio icon Rush Limbaugh, who died Wednesday at age 70 and called the state home for decades.

    DeSantis, who had been pressed to honor the revered conservative figure, confirmed Friday he would do it once Limbaugh’s burial date was announced. Lowering flags to half-staff is often done after deaths of significant American figures or national tragedies.

    “What we do when there’s things of this magnitude, once the date of internment for Rush is announced, we’re going to be lowering the flags to half-staff,” DeSantis said in West Palm Beach, according to the Tampa Bay Times.”

  24. Flags were lowered for the 500k (OMG) deaths from covid.

    I hope Rush rots in hell. I hated him long before 45 but I hope both equally rot along with Moscow Mitch.

  25. Um… I’m not sure all those flags are for Limbaugh. Before he died, there were people proposing a half-staff movement for the thousands of covid deaths. Just sayin’.

  26. On Tuesday, President Biden ordered flags lowered until sunset Friday in memory of the 500K deaths due to COVID19.
    On Tuesday, Governor DeSantis ordered flags lowered all day Wednesday in memory of Rush.

    I don’t know which came first, but I suspect that it was Biden and that DeSantis was denying SARS-CoV-2 as much as he was honoring Rush.

    All I can add is that I don’t believe in heaven or hell, but it is times like this that I wish they were real – at least the hell part.

  27. Todd,

    Here is a prophecy from the Old Testament by one of the early prophet Zachariah!
    He called those who were teaching something contrary to the law, a valueless Shepherd!

    He stated; “To the sheep being effaced he will give no attention. The young one he will not seek, and the broken sheep he will not heal. The one stationing herself he will not supply with food, and the flesh of the fat one he will eat, and the hoofs of the sheep he will tear off. Woe to my valueless shepherd, who is leaving the flock! A sword will be upon his arm and upon his right eye. His own arm will without fail dry up, and his own right eye will without fail grow dim.”​Zachariah 11:15-17.

    In the Christian Greek Scriptures, and also discussed a similar tack!
    In Timothy’s 2nd letter, he stated; ” For there will be a period of time when they will not put up with the wholesome teaching, but according to their own desires, they will surround themselves with teachers to have their ears tickled. They will turn away from listening to the truth and give attention to false stories” 2nd Timothy 4:3-4.

    In Matthew chapter 13, Jesus Christ used in illustrative parable describing false Christianity!

    And of course the apostle Paul brought attention to this very thing!

    He stated; ” I know that after my going away oppressive wolves will enter in among you and will not treat the flock with tenderness, and from among you yourselves men will rise and speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves.” Acts 20:29-30.

    So, if you are saying that these things were discussed throughout the old and New Testament, that absolutely were, and they pointed out remedies to the situation, but most people don’t pay much attention to it. There are no atheists in a foxhole, everybody hedges their bets!

    The ones that like to peddle their dirt, to falsely claim specific doctrine which is diametrically opposed to Scripture, feel that they can get away with it if they somehow convince themselves of being saved! They believe that whatever they do, they’ll go to heaven, because they’ve been saved, “once saved always saved” I believe is the phrase! Too bad that’s not true, they’ve deluded themselves to believe something that is not part of true Christian law. Read, 1st Corinthians 10:1-12.

  28. Aside from saying a loud AMEN at Rush’s passing, I think we need to also blame the many corporations who advertised and supported him, and worse, the broadcasting firms (including Jewish-founded Emmis Communications right there in Indianapolis) who knew what he was and still continued to carry his three hours of hate every day. It’s one thing to shout fire in a crowded thratre, but something entirely different if nobody’s there to hear it. I am one who regularly talked to the Emmis (and other) folks I knew in the biz, and asked “why are you broadcasting this hate?” All I ever got was blank stares and polite “do nothing” we willlook into it responses. They allowed this to happen. If you really think about it, sacrificing morals and right for sponsor dollars. No wonder most of us gave up on commercial radio years ago!

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