RUSH LIMBAUGH often boasts that he battles the left "with half my brain tied behind my back, just to make it fair." Somehow, operating with only 50 percent of his intellect has never seemed to slow him down. It’s hard to imagine that losing 100 percent of his hearing will, either.
There’s a cruel irony in seeing the man who revolutionized talk radio, who brings words of wisdom to the ears of more than 20 million listeners on 600 radio stations, go deaf. How sad that he can no longer hear the sound of his own voice, which is so familiar to so many. How much sadder that he can’t hear the voice of his wife, or that he can no longer enjoy music.
But Rush has never been one to feel sorry for himself. He’s too much of an optimist and a patriot. "You really have to keep things in perspective when you are fortunate enough to live in this country," he told his listening audience.
"There are a lot of people worse off than I am, especially since September the 11." Besides, he’s "been luckier than most people will ever be in life."
That last part isn’t entirely true he’s just being uncharacteristically modest. While Rush has been blessed with "talent on loan from God," it was far more than simple luck that made this college dropout from Cape Girardeau, Missouri, a conservative icon. It was also hard work, passion, self-confidence, and a genuine belief in the ideas he preaches.
The heart of Limbaugh’s message has always been self-reliance. He believes in the American dream because he’s lived it, and he rightly scorns the left’s appeals to victimization. He rejects the notion that in America, poor people must always be poor, that racism keeps blacks from achieving success, or that sexism inhibits women. With determination and grit, he argues, anyone can make it after all, he did.
That’s a large part of why the left has long despised Limbaugh as much, if not more, than the right ever loathed Bill Clinton he singularly discredits all that it believes. Moreover, he’s the right’s most effective advocate since Ronald Reagan, conservatism’s next great communicator.
Limbaugh arrived on the scene when the left dominated every facet of the media. He took a different approach. He was, in his own words, a guy "who didn't tell you what to think but simply reflected what you already thought, what you already believed, validated what you already thought and believed."
He made conservatism cool and easily accessible to millions of "conversationalists across the fruited plain." He spoke to average people whose convictions are dismissed and whose values are mocked by the likes of Dan Rather and the New York Times. He provided the alternative view, which, most of the time, just happened to be the truth. And he converted many a duped liberal into a right-thinking dittohead.
He has opened the doors for many other conservatives who would follow. The right now owns talk radio, with the likes of Dr. Laura, Hugh Hewitt, and Sean Hannity, and it’s pressing forward into other media note the success of the Fox News Network.
For the left, hating Limbaugh like loving manatees or putting a "hate is not a family value" sticker on the back of the Volvo is a quick and easy way to lay claim to moral superiority. Leftists condemn Limbaugh’s wit as "mean-spirited," but titter gleefully at Al Franken’s Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot. They cling to Rush’s every occasional misstatement as proof that he’s either not too bright or not too honest, while seldom bothering to answer any of the substantive arguments he raises.
When I mentioned the news of Limbaugh’s deafness to a liberal acquaintance, he laughed. I then checked the Internet newsgroups and found more snickering. One poster remarked that he wouldn’t be happy until Rush was "blind, deaf and … well he was always dumb." Another said that Limbaugh’s affliction "just proves that God *will* get you."
These are, to be sure, the same folks who roundly condemn the likes of Limbaugh for being "insensitive" and who to this day still chuckle whenever they’re reminded that Ronald Reagan has Alzheimer’s disease. (They also consider themselves great champions of the disabled.)
While not all leftists have responded so heartlessly, it only makes sense that many would. They now have more reason to hate Limbaugh than ever. Deafness provided him with an opportunity to join their army of victims, and he turned it down. They must have hoped that this disability would present an obstacle that he couldn’t overcome that in one fell swoop their biggest nemesis would disappear from the public scene, and their pessimism about the unfairness of life would be confirmed.
But they’re out of luck. Rush plans to keep on with his show. Through the marvels of modern technology, a capable staff, and his own determination, he’s already devised a way to take and answer calls from his listeners, even though he can’t hear them. The Rush Limbaugh Show isn’t going anywhere, "It’s just a matter of finding out how and the best way to do it."
If anyone can, it’s Rush Limbaugh.