Politics wasn’t something I sought out when Rush Limbaugh popped up on the AM dial at work one day, but I was interested in what people talked about on the radio – I blame Frasier and Newsradio. He was smug, condescending, belligerent, and generally offensive to my then feminist sensibilities, the consummate “man-splainer,” but this was before cell phones and I was that tired of the one tunable FM station.
Supposedly, it takes six weeks of solid listening to understand where Rush is coming from. But, being the contrarian I was – and still am – it took me a solid three years to get it. Somewhere between those years of clear, concise conservatism and the years at Indiana University – Bloomington reading the campus newspaper every day, something clicked—much to my father’s chagrin. He didn’t come right out and say it, but dad probably thought I’d been brainwashed. I recall the very article that did it. The basketball coach at the time, Mike Davis, had given his church a donation, and a local LGBT organization insisted he give them a donation as well to prove his unbiased bona fides. Ridiculous. Let the man spend his money as he sees fit.
Since Rush opened my eyes to these strange and foreign ideas of conservatism, I thought of him as a political father figure (sorry, Dad, truly) on my journey through life. Recently, I’ve been visiting Rush’s now FM home and have found myself staring incredulously at the radio e-ver-y time. I know he doesn’t technically endorse candidates in a presidential primary, but what’s with the TrumpFest? The extended explanations of Trump’s strategry (my favorite G. W. Bush-ism)? The borderline apologistics? (See, I can make up words, too.) Is Rush trying to capitalize on the election cycle uptick in listeners? Is he falling for the clickbait?? Surely not…Right?
During my last listening a week ago, I was left agape at not only Rush’s “wild guess” on the Trump/Kelly clash from that debate eight months ago, but also his reason for speculating at all. This is the part that floored me:
“And at some point during [Kelly’s] career advancement, Trump becomes a fan. Donald Trump is known to reach out to people in the media. He sends them notes. He sends them encouragement. He just reaches out to them. There are some people that are fascinated by media figures. My wild guess is that Mr. Trump thought he’d always been nice to her — I’m guessing that he didn’t send her critical notes. I’m guessing he didn’t send her short little notes or texts or whatever it was criticizing her. I bet it was stuff rooted in admiration for her talent or what have you, and I think he was blindsided by her opening question in that first debate, personally blindsided by it.”
Emphasis mine. According to the Rush rationalization, Trump must have thought his accolades would score some brownie points with an admirable reporter, but she was committed to nailing everyone to the wall right off the bat. I admit I was surprised by the first question. However, a quick Google search brings up a staggering number of articles regarding his attacks on women. Someone who seems so attuned to optics as a reality TV star should have seen that coming.
Having said that, the well-trodden road of expressing the shortcomings and miscalculations of Trump and his campaign is wide, but the road that wanted wear, in my opinion, is that which leads to the foundation of my conservative home. RedState’s Leon Wolf, among others, has been on this road for a while now. Though not technically a “Rush Baby,” I consider myself a “Rush Adolescent.”
So, I speak now to my brothers and sisters: We need to talk about Dad.
My own father didn’t make it long enough for my sisters and me to share sideways glances and wonder privately if he was losing it, but I can only imagine that this is what it might have felt like.
I’m sure I’ll tune in periodically while driving to see what Rush is talking about, but the claims of being documented “almost right 99.7% of the time” amount to shtick for me now. Dad is fallible.