Rush Limbaugh, RIP

Comments at Steve Sailer:

* Rush’s biggest influence was in teaching regular conservatives to talk back. There had been conservative media organizations before, and of course Buckley and National Review were institutions by the time he became popular in the late ’80s, but Rush felt like a precursor to YouTube comments, bloggers, and frog Twitter. In the same way sixties garage bands or the Ramones taught teenagers around the world that almost anyone could start a rock band, Rush made Americans feel like almost anyone could take on the liberal establishment if they had enough confidence and defiant attitude.

He was funny and irreverent. Never came off as nerdy or stilted, but confident and (this is key) one of the bros. Trump is unthinkable without him.

He had a successful TV show in the ’90s that pulled great ratings, and it only ended because it was too large of a commitment for Rush to make. Rush was such an influence that an entire radio channel – the liberal Air America – was started, and failed, in the 2000s in an attempt to mimic and counter his impact.

The mark of any good teacher is that they help their students become so skilled and confident at learning and noticing on their own that the teacher can come to feel superfluous. A good teacher helps a student become his own teacher. Though many rightfully mourn Rush today there is not a sense, I don’t believe, that the conservative “movement” is in any sense now lost without him. He raised millions of Rushes. If young conservatives don’t know or appreciate his impact it’s because his legacy has been for so long taken for granted.

* Most of us on this site are to the right of Rush. Rush was entertaining and funny but I don’t think he truly understood the danger posed by mass immigration to everything he and we hold dear. On several occasions he said he would support amnesty as long as the recipients could not vote for 20 yrs. IOW, the incubation period for a third world immigrant to become a flag waving American is two decades.

Like so many well known conservatives they truly think all racial groups can be made to be the same given enough time, economic prosperity and set asides. Rush really failed us on immigration.

* I enjoyed listening to Rush in the car until he took a call from an obsequious listener. When that happened I would turn it off and tune back in later. He understood the radio as a theatre. He kept the energy up and didn’t dwell on a topic for too long. You don’t want to listen to someone drone on the radio, even if he’s interesting. That can cause a traffic accident. With the exception of Mark Steyn, his guest hosts are dull. I don’t know what’s going to happen with the program now. I doubt Mark is interested in doing it more once or twice a week.

* Limbaugh seems to have been a good man with his heart in the right place. He most definitely helped our cause – and for that I’m thankful – but he could never move beyond his failed CivNat ideology.

He didn’t need to do more than he did, but it would have been nice if he tried.

* It’s hard to appreciate just what a breath of fresh air Rush Limbaugh was when he first came on the scene. There was no one like him. There were local conservative talkshow hosts even on San Francisco radio stations in the 1980s, but no one had the confidence to say what he thought like Rush did.

Before he went national, he was on KFBK in Sacramento. I seem to recall that KGO in San Francisco gave Rush a trial run, and then afterward had a local host (Pete Wilson, who was also a TV news anchor) take calls from listeners on what they thought of him. He was too much for KGO, but not for KNBR and then KSFO.

He taught his audience a great deal. And he was fun: “Live from New York, it’s Open-Line Friday!”

* Limbaugh supposedly attained a net worth of $600m –estimate seems on the low side. My guess is that zero dollars of that amount will be used to seed/help young White advocates. So , in his life, he extracted billions of dollars from the White community, but to what end beyond his own wealth and comfort? what really is his legacy that provides a vision, actionable steps? Limbaugh has about much relevance as Reagan. Their message to Republicans seems to be that we should invoke an inoffensive nostalgia while bowing to the Left albeit with a lag of 5 years. And stand with Israel.

Self-described conservatives mourn Reagan, or wish that the Reagan of 1966 that swept aside Pat Brown could magically reappear. But what are Reagan’s legacies? The 1969 Abortion Bill. The 1986 Amnesty that turned California blue. Trillions spent fighting a Cold War1 that was already won as the USSR was rusting away, but refusing to fight the domestic cultural war, or the cultural Marxists in the universities –lavishly funded by Republican congresses. Reagan only allowed PJB, then in the prime of his life and one of his early backers as far back as 1978 –if not 1976, to hold a WH position for less than 2 years.

My conclusion is that like WF Buckley and Reagan, Limbaugh holds little in the way of vision for Whites.

* Anyone who needed Rush to teach them to “talk back” after Buckley had been “talking back” on television for decades belongs on the short bus.

Rush was the type of guy who appealed to the sort of excitable, dim-witted boomers whose idea of a profound intellectual argument was referring to a teenaged girl as a dog. What made Rush so successful? He made petty, ignorant, intellectually lazy people feel good about themselves.

Before Rush, Republicans were respectable. The circus on 1/6 would have been unimaginable.

Before Rush, Republicans were the party of Reagan. Now they are the party of Trump. Has that been good for the party? When is the last time Republicans got the most votes in a Presidential election nationally?

Rush opened the door, Trump walked through it.

Think about that in 2024.

* Rush ORIGINALLY was very cold toward NAFTA and suspicious of the effects it would have. He made no secret of this on-air. His audience was similarly ambivalent and there was plenty of white noise.

Then, and this is from sources that have made biographies, Alan Greenspan called Rush in person, told him the trucks and plants in Mexico are ALREADY UP AND RUNNING so shut up and get on board.

A week later, Rush was saying “Let’s send all the stupid people’s jobs down to Mexico.”

Those of us in the Buy America movement of the early 90s knew Greenspan was right. Massive state of the art plants were pouring shit north from Mexico by the mid-80s. It became necessary to legalize what was already de facto. Rush folded like a cheap accordion.

Conservative pundits and white nationalists in one way are totally synoptic: You can always count on them to vigorously pursue the useless while ignoring the crucial.

Rush was a humorist for a certain segment of suburbia. That is all.

* His death is very personal for me because I listened to him for over thirty years. I vividly remember the first time I heard him in 1988 — it was like an epiphany. I had never heard ANYONE say and defend the conservative beliefs that I held (and paid a very high social and financial price for it) on the air, let alone turn my beliefs into an entertaining, financially successful five-day-a-week prime-time crusade.

Limbaugh singlehandedly remade the entire AM radio industry. Before him, there was only the obnoxious and blatantly left-wing Larry King, whom I despised, on at night. Even before that in the 1970s as a kid I remember AM radio was like listening to a funeral — it was horrible.

The ability to drive across the country and listen to Limbaugh continuously as one station faded out and another came in was incredible. He was truly like a best friend that you could always count on. Hit the “scan” button on the radio he would always — always — be there between noon and 3:00. He was a conservative Everyman, and made millions of people like me feel that we were not alone. And he did it all on his own, his way. He was a one-man show. Nobody owned him or ever told him what to do or say if he wanted to keep his job.

He was also far more optimistic about America and the ability to overcome and defeat the Left than I am. His good humor and good cheer and his optimism were some of his best traits.

If he can be criticized, though, it is for being the Eternal Boomer, who never saw the full reality of just how corrupted the GOP Establishment really is, how much Third World immigration is killing this country, how much the Democrats have stoked anti-white race hatred in this country, and how narrow and leftist the ruling clique is. I think Limbaugh was genuinely shocked when he had finally arrived as a truly wealthy man, yet was rejected for ownership of an NFL team and discovered that his wealth could not buy him membership in elite society unless his politics were leftist.

It is fitting that he died before seeing his beloved country degenerate into full-blown communism — or civil war. He was wrong in his belief that “our best days are ahead of us” and that the Constitution can be restored.

It cannot.

The white, working-class people in this country once had faith that they could vote for someone who cared about them — like Trump — and comfort knowing that they could listen to someone who understood them and was one of them, like Limbaugh. Now they have nothing but contemptuous leftist overlords who want to “break their will” for turning on the fucking heat in the winter.

Bad times are coming. VERY bad times.

Thank you, Rush, for staving off the Left as long as you could. At the very least you helped to buy us a bit more time. But our country is as terminal as your diagnosis was.

* One thing I noticed over years of listening to Limbaugh is that a lot of his callers were boomer types who claimed to have been liberal until they started listening to Rush. During the 80’s and 90’s, there was a huge influx of middle aged white boomers ex-hippie sympathizer types into conservatism that helped create the cuckservative phenomenon. Limbaugh was their go to source for information and those were the people who embraced the “Democrats are the real racists” garbage.

* A few weeks ago, a caller started talking about how immigration was making whites a minority and Limbaugh just hung up on him without refuting any of his points. That is Rush Limbaugh’s political career in a nutshell.

* Limbaugh’s great talent was of course his voice. He was able to take seemingly complex issues and make them appear simple to understand. This is also known as dumbing things down for nine year olds.

I can only abide so much over praising of any one individual. Perhaps the Scots-Irish genes, or a natural American disinterest in verbal fellatio, as it does tend to leave a bad taste in the mouth.

It’s one thing to pay honest tribute to a public, larger than life individual. To entirely gloss over the warts and all at the expense of doing so is asinine, semi-cultic, ridiculous. Four marriages, Federal/State charges of doctor shopping for opioids. Claiming victimhood because the mean, big, bad wibwul NFL (which in fact was quite conservative during this time period) wouldn’t let him purchase a team, and such like. And all for a plutocrat, top one percenter whose main goals in life, aside from flattery and self-aggrandizement, was accumulation of stuff. As far as championing issues of the day that resonate with Middle Americans, (preserving entitlements, raising the minimum wage, of which Ron Unz has heroically taken a strong stand in favor, raising taxes on the wealthy, etc), Limbaugh was never to be found. He was a straight up standard Republican who repeated the party’s talking points verbatim for decades.

“Rush’s biggest influence was in teaching regular conservatives to talk back.”

If you say so. Technically at other times Limbaugh stated that he wasn’t strictly a conservative down the line but a libertarian, but no matter.

“and of course Buckley and National Review were institutions by the time he became popular in the late ’80s,”

Per conservative issues, a la populist America First, National Review has seen better decades.

“but Rush felt like a precursor to YouTube comments, bloggers, and frog Twitter.”

Yep, El Rushbo always did claim to have invented the internet into what it has become.

“Trump is unthinkable without him.”

Uh, no, Trump borrowed heavily from Pat Buchanan, Ross Perrot, and even from Sam Francis. Not Trump in particular, but from those around his first campaign. Trump himself owes more to reality TV like the Kardashians than to anything Rush said on the radio.

“He had a successful TV show in the ’90s that pulled great ratings, and it only ended because it was too large of a commitment for Rush to make.”

Now this is an example of verbal fellatio. And wishful thinking. For most of its 3 yr run, Rush’s TV show was on at wee small hrs of the night. Such luminary ads as “Mint Snuff” comprised the bulk of his advertising. His show was not a success by any means, if properly judged against shows that actually made profits, like the NFL, 60 Minutes, etc.

“A good teacher helps a student become his own teacher. Though many rightfully mourn Rush today there is not a sense, I don’t believe, that the conservative “movement” is in any sense now lost without him.”

Now more than ever, Conservative Inc. is a racket, a grift, a hustle. In that sense, Rush did make a direct contribution to this format. In some ways, he was similar in style to a ’90’s Televangelist, a carny barker who echoes the same 3-4 talking points. “Liberals bad, conservatives good” etc. all while taking the rubes money when they’re not looking.

“If young conservatives don’t know or appreciate his impact”

Actually they probably don’t, as Limbaugh’s demographics skewed 65 and older for the last decade or so. If he was such an all important voice for the Con. movement as a whole, wonder why younger demographics couldn’t be bothered listening to him? Must be the bad liberals preventing people from turning on their radios.

Intellectual honesty requires accuracy be spoken. Since about the time of Bill Clinton’s impeachment (ca. 1998), in the public forum of ideals, Rush Limbaugh has been totally irrelevant. The major policy battles, of which Steve and others have constantly and consistently taken on, Limbaugh wasn’t there to be found. He could easily have used his allegedly and often repeated claim of “20 million weekly listeners” to hammer home week, month, year after year about writing local US representatives to oppose illegal immigration, but chose not to. Instead of carrying water for the GOP as a whole, he could’ve brought up issues like the connection to the 2008 recession and bad economic policies that were implemented by W. Again, he chose not to. “Thou shalt not criticize fellow Republicans.”

Instead, Rush oftentimes chose to criticize policies that would largely benefit ordinary Americans. Attacking the idea of raising the minimum wage, expanding Health Care for most Americans, and other entitlement expansions. Why’d he do that? Because that’s what the GOP’s lawmakers were doing, and he seldom ever directly criticized the GOP.

His famous (or infamous) 2009 speech at CPAC, where he outlined his belief that conservatism needs to be pushed even harder, after all, it hasn’t really been fully implemented no longer resonates with people under the age of 65. The US is not only growing apart politically (and fewer voters self-identify as conservatives compared to, say, 25 yrs ago), it is growing apart economically. “There are two Americas”, is a most apt observation of the current state of affairs, and frankly, El Rushbo couldn’t ever be bothered to get off the golf course and notice that there’s a world outside his self insulated, self isolated 1%. Just ask his former housekeeper, Wilma Cline. At least he had the good sense to hire native born help, or at least at the time of the opioid addiction he did.

Perhaps one day a legitimate, balanced, somewhat more nuanced biography will be published about the self-styled, most dangerous man in America. About a person who simply couldn’t be bothered to look beyond the Maybachs, private jets, fancy cigars, country clubs, to notice that there is another America, and one that doesn’t have as rosy a future as did Boomer Rush. But, as he was on autopilot for the last quarter century, it’s really not a surprise that he was simply AWOL on the problems, and slow, steady decline of what once was an amazing, unique first world nation.

The America Rush spoke of was one that he grew up with during his generation. Unfortunately, that America is rapidly passing out of existence. By around 2040 or so, it is safe to say that that nation that endured decades of Reaganism supply side policies, deregulation, high immigration, outsourcing of jobs, *free trade, will no longer exist in any meaningful productive way.

*(Rush was a big NAFTA supporter, as VP Al Gore in his 1993 CNN debate with Ross Perrot acknowledged, which helped to kill millions of US jobs, hastening the opioid and suicide of lower class white workers. And people wonder why Conservatism Inc. does not have the same number of followers it did decades ago.)

* I think Rush felt an obligation to side consistently with Team Republican, but in recent years he became a lot more skeptical and critical of it. I often felt that he understood a lot more than he would let on, gauging how much his audience wanted–or was ready–to hear. I only listened to him in the car and found a lot of what he had to say to be entry-level conservatism, but every once in awhile he’d come out with a truly penetrating political insight.

I recall listening to him in the 1980s on WABC New York, before he was nationally syndicated. At that time he said some things that indicated to me that he knew what was what. For example, he had a black caller once who told him that white people were scared of what black people would accomplish if they stopped oppressing them. Rush responses was something like, “No, that’s not what white people are scared of. They’re scared that black people won’t ever accomplish much no matter what we do for them.”

In those days Rush was on before Bob Grant, who was forthright about racial issues. That position, along with his acerbic manner, kept Grant from succeeding when he tried to go national. I believe Rush took a lesson from that. Grant was an early victim of cancel culture, losing his slot at WABC when a black listener sent a tape of some of his statements to the station’s management. (Grant’s show was later picked up by WOR.)

* I’ve never heard a broadcast by Limbaugh, and only know of him at second hand from the comments here, but all I can say is that no serious threat to the establishment would be allowed to broadcast to tens of millions of people for over 30 years and amass a fortune of $600m. Even a civic nationalist like Steve Sailer would feel lucky to be briefly interviewed once a year on TV or radio.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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