Mark Steyn: Rush Limbaugh ‘Talent Returned to God’

Rush Limbaugh at Work, Smiling

Political commentator, author, and frequent guest host of The Rush Limbaugh Show, Mark Steyn wrote that he owes “almost everything” to Limbaugh, who passed away Wednesday morning after a year-long battle with lung cancer.

The witty Steyn, who often introduced himself as the “undocumented” guest host when Limbaugh was away from the EIB (Excellence in Broadcasting) microphone, wrote at his website Steyn Online that the conservative “giant of American broadcasting” was “the indispensable man.”

In his memorial post, Steyn adjusted Limbaugh’s popular tag line, “Talent on loan from God,” to “Talent returned to God.”

Steyn noted he had been scheduled to serve as guest host on Wednesday, but Kathryn Limbaugh, the conservative talker’s wife, and the EIB team put together a special program to celebrate Limbaugh’s life and legacy.

“It’s a hard thing to do – compressing a glorious third-of-a-century into three hours – but Snerdley, Kraig, Mike, Allie and everyone else I’ve worked with there for so many years will do their best,” he said.

He reflected on Limbaugh’s legacy:

Usually, in this line of work, if you’re lucky, you get a moment – a year or two when you’re the in-thing – and you hope to hold enough of that moment as it slowly fades away to keep you going till retirement. Rush did something unprecedented in the history of TV and radio. Commercial broadcasting began in the United States in 1920: The Rush Limbaugh Show came along two-thirds of a century later, became the Number One program very quickly, and has stayed at the top all the way to today – for a third of the entire history of the medium. And throughout all those decades Rush and his show stayed exactly the same: a forensic breakdown of the day’s news, punctuated by musical parodies, satirical sketches, and Rush’s own optimism and good humor, even through this last terrible year.

The Rush Limbaugh Show

Steyn pointedly observed that while “Rush took politics seriously,” he did not take it “solemnly.”

“The comedy is what his many enemies and half his own side missed,” he quipped, citing Limbaugh’s creation of an Afghan identity for himself during the beginnings of the war on terror, “with talent on loan from Allah.”

Subscribers to Limbaugh’s site could listen to any number of “parodies” featuring caricatures of current political newsmakers.

Steyn wrote he first heard Limbaugh on the radio soon after he started his show, as he was driving through a “dead zone” in northern Maine when his car radio began searching through channels:

[S]uddenly it found some guy, and there he was talking about “the arts-and-croissants crowd” moving in your town, and reading out press releases from NOW (the National Association of Women), whom he called the NAGS (National Association of Gals), and playing Andy Williams’ version of “Born Free” punctuated by gunfire to accompany any environmental story.

“It was a unique combination – absolute piercing philosophical clarity, and a grand rollicking presentational style honed through all the lean years of minor-market disc-jockeying,” Steyn described it, observing that, once Limbaugh “perfected” his style, he applied it to whatever was the content of the day.

“Genius GOP consultants,” however, were out to find a way to get rid of Limbaugh.

“Really?” Steyn asked on the air one day. “For almost a third of a century, Rush’s audience was over half the total Republican vote. How many do all you genius ‘Republican reformers’ bring to the table?”

Perhaps one of Limbaugh’s most notable characteristics, Steyn continued, was his total sense of security in who he was.

“Unlike other shows of left and right, where the staff come and go every six weeks, everyone at the EIB Network has been there fifteen, twenty, thirty years,” he wrote. “That includes, in a very peripheral way, yours truly.”

Steyn said he admired Limbaugh even more during this last year as he struggled with his cancer treatments:

When he announced his diagnosis, we all knew this story only has one ending, and it’s just a question of how many chapters there are leading up to it. Rush loved what he did more than anything in life except his family. He had no interest in going to Tahiti to watch the sunset. He wanted to be behind the Golden EIB Microphone every day that he could. So initially he took a couple of days off every three weeks for treatment, and then the two days became four, and the treatment weeks took their toll and spilled into the following week. But, through it all, he remained determined to do every single show he could – because, aside from anything else, he wanted to make sure he, his listeners, his brand, his stations did everything they could to put President Trump across the finish line on November 3rd.

Steyn noted that, despite his difficulties, Limbaugh remained on the air until February 2, “because above all he wanted to keep faith with tens of millions of listeners, many of whom had been listening to him their entire lives and could not imagine a world without him.”

“We are about to find out,” he said.


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