“At first he made me mad… then he made me laugh; then he made sense.”
Those words from a 1994 Rush Limbaugh television promo echo the sentiment of many of the 15.5 million listeners of his syndicated weekly program. That alone speaks volumes of the legendary broadcaster. I have often said, “a stand is not a stand, unless you have opposition.” Not understanding this simple litmus test, many operate rhetorically, never facing to any degree a true challenge. Friends, career, even family members are sometimes but collateral damage when standing for what you believe. Those that recognize that risk but forge ahead nonetheless, accept the costs as part of the “coming with the territory.” For more than 30 years, that was the life of Rush Limbaugh. On February 17, 2021, Rush passed away from lung cancer complications.
From his earliest radio beginnings in 1984 to his very last broadcast on February 2nd of 2021, Rush changed the sound and look of talk radio, inspiring millions of thinking men and women of all ages, creeds, religions, backgrounds, and colors. I found myself in the early 1990’s struggling with his profundity. His statements were so bold, they gave me pause- but more than that, they made me think.
His views on the death penalty, abortion, race relations, climate change-and of course, politics, made him the enemy to many, and a hero to many more.
In February of 2020, Rush revealed to his vast family of listeners his battle with stage 4 lung cancer. Although once an avid cigar smoker, such a malady is aggressive even in the best of cases. However, like everything else in his career, he boldly challenged it the way he writes his books; one page at a time. The legacy that Rush has made will remain an indelible mark on the minds, hearts, and psyche of all who have liked, loved, hated agreed and disagreed with him-conservatives and liberals alike. You see, Mr. Limbaugh was able to do what few before him failed to; he made truth popular. Like the accident you strive to ignore, but cannot look away from, Rush’s impact is impossible to dismiss. We will forever see and hear it echoing through the voices of all those that took a moment to listen to him speak. Many years from now, as we look back on the impact of those like him that dared to live, speak and be the unpopular, his words will still ring true. It is apropos therefore, to sum up the legacy Mr. Limbaugh leaves behind with a reference to the signature phrase he used at the beginning of each broadcast-
“Talent returned to God.”
May we all live such a life.
-Lawrence Johnson, Sr.