Very seldom do I write something, then soon after think, “I didn’t do that right. I missed something. There is more I need to say.” But that was the case with my substack column last week, “Things Would Be Different if Rush were Still Here.”
I never met Rush. I got to speak with him for over an hour sometime around 2005 when he interviewed me for the Limbaugh Letter about A Patriot’s History of the United States, which had just come out. It wasn’t the New York Times #1 bestseller then—but Rush perceived there was value in the book. To date, he remains the best interviewer I ever encountered, listening and then basing his subsequent questions on my answers. It sounds trite and stupid in many ways, but Rush was like my best friend, and I miss him in that way.
What I don’t think many of us realize is that while he had that effect on millions of people, he had another extremely positive influence on American politics. It wasn’t just that he explained (and, when possible, ridiculed) the ideologies of the left. Rather because of his national voice and influence, though the elites in the GOP would never admit it, he often forced them to toe the line. Without ever calling their offices or engaging in personal lobbying like so many do, Rush could effect change just by his voice. He exerted a powerful discipline on the RINOs in the Republican party, who (true to what some leftists claimed) did not want to cross him too badly.
He didn’t need to name names for them to feel his reach. As the great Ronald Reagan once said of people calling and writing Congress, “if we can’t make them see the light, we can at least make them feel the heat.” And so it was with Rush.
No greater measure of his influence can be seen than when he nearly singlehandedly stopped the amnesty bill in the works during the Bush administration. The “Gang of Eight” had amnesty ready to go, and John McCain was itching to take credit for it. It was a done deal.
Noting, correctly, that on his show, he never urged people to call or write their senators or congressmen about issues, he made a big exception in this case. Instantly the Capitol Hill switchboard lit up, then melted down. It was clear within 48 hours that, the American public made abundantly clear to Congress it strongly opposed any amnesty bill. The Senate, getting an earful from constituents, dealt a fatal blow to Bush’s immigration policy.
Oh, critics will rightly say that they still essentially got it through years of lax (or non-existent) border control; and that Joe Biden’s anti-American policies of a completely open border have nearly accomplished what they tried to do 15 years ago. But no one can deny that, like the defenders of the Alamo, Rush held up the onslaught.
We are coming up on the two-year anniversary of Rush’s final Christmas show. It’s hard enough to listen to “Silent Night,” performed by Mannheim Steamroller, with a dry eye. But when Rush’s last Christmas message is placed over it, well . . . . It’s not hyperbole to say that the simultaneous departure from the public scene of both President Trump and the Great Rush Limbaugh has made us infinitely worse off.
I miss you, Rush. Every damn day.