Jul 072008

The New York Times Magazine just published an engaging profile of Rush Limbaugh. Check it out.

I don’t listen to talk radio much anymore, though when I do, it’s usually Rush. Despite large swathes of disagreement, I find him consistently entertaining. Moreover, I appreciate his articulate cases for areas where we do agree, such as limited government and immigration policy. (Of the nationally known talk show hosts, ideologically I line up more closely with Neal Boortz, but quickly find his shtick tedious.)

Know what I’ve noticed consistently over the last 10 or 15 years? Only rarely do I encounter a Rush Limbaugh detractor—in person, online, in the media, or whatever—who demonstrates even passing familiarity with his program. I hear the Feminazi quote and/or a drug addiction crack, generally followed by a description of him as a knuckleheaded boob leading a mindless army of followers who passively lap up his every word.

That is exactly what he’s not, and that uninformed assumption is a big part of what keeps him beating you bloody year after year. (Think he isn’t administering said beating? Seen his ratings? Seen his new $400 million contract? Keep telling yourself he doesn’t matter. Better, listen to his show a few times and figure out why he does.)

That’s the big thing that this New York Times Magazine profile gets. It accurately describes his talents (considerable) and his audience (intelligent and demanding).

If you want to genuinely wound him, folks, stop dismissing him (and ridiculous attempts to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine aren’t the way either). You need a voice on the left that is as compelling and entertaining as Rush’s. I’d love to have that show to listen to. Where is it?

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 Posted by at 7:46 pm

  13 Responses to “The New York Times Magazine on Rush Limbaugh”

  1. I used to listen to Mr. Limbaugh’s show on occasion, but, much as you said with Mr. Boortz, I tired of his shtick. I just don’t find him entertaining, and, as best I recall, there was a certain heard one heard them all aspect to his show.

  2. Actually, I don’t listen to any commentators at all these days. It dawned on me one fine day that my opinion was at least as good as theirs.

  3. Actually, it’s right here, because an entertaining and compelling voice on the left is the show, fem•i•nä•zi. Unlike Rush, however, the “liberal standard bearer” NY Times has not seen fit to feature us.

  4. Gerry, I know what you mean. I find Rush most enjoyable when I listen to him for a day or two at a time, with hiatuses in between. I’d guess I listen monthly at this point.

    Conversely I’m generally done with Boortz in about 15 minutes. There’s just something about him that grates. Too bad; I love him on a lot of the issues.

  5. Rush is the least repetitive to me, but they all seem to be that way if you listen more than once or twice a month (even the few left leaners). I can listen to Boortz when he’s being funny, in small doses. I used to love Glenn Beck, but now that he’s made it big, he bores me. Perhaps he started becoming more PC or something.

    Rick and Bubba are my favorite conservative talk pundits.

  6. First, I mean every word of what I’m about to say. There isn’t a cute little suckerpunch coming at the end here.

    Rush is a radio guy, first and last. He knows listeners aren’t always with him for the entire show, so he delivers his relentless advocacy of Republican politics like hot and cold running water. You get what you expect when you turn on the station. That’s why he pulls in this incredible money. I give him a lot of credit for saving AM radio, which was sputtering when he came on the scene. His parodies are also short, sharp, and polished.

    He is weakest when trying to comment on things with a scientific or technological component. He suffers from the current Republican delusion that you can spin reality. But his mad skills allow him to glibly skate by when others would hem and haw.

    Sadly, I also think there is a racist-pandering streak in some of his humor that he either can’t or won’t suppress. Example: calling the mayor of New Orleans “Nay-gar” and chalking it up to a slip or getting tongue-tied when he’s busted for it. C’mon! He’s RUSH: bionic ears or no, RUSH seldom gets tongue-tied. That and the Donovan McNabb business of a couple of years ago was just plain pandering to bigots.

    That’s just the way I see it. I think he’s wrong a lot, but I respect his mastery of the medium. Any, ANY other right-wing talk show host you care to mention here is a tepid, unlistenable wannabe.

  7. While I agree with Rush on many things ( not all ), I just can’t take his ego. He’s too much into himself. I don’t listen to much talk radio, but my favorite is Laura Ingraham. I guess with Rush’s new $400M
    contract, he can buy out all the liberal talk show hosts.

  8. I’ve been listening to Rush since 1988 or ’89, whenever it was that WVNN first started carrying him. I was going to Athens State at the time and had a break in the middle of the day. I’d usually sit in my car under the big shade trees and eat lunch and listen to the radio. For some strange reason, I was tuning around on the AM dial one day and found his show. I was stunned when I heard some of the things he was saying and thought, “I can’t believe he’s saying that on the air!” And, I agreed with a lot of what he was saying. I was hooked. Although there are stretches of days where I can’t tune in for some reason, in general, I listen to at least some of his show daily.

    Yes, I will admit it, I love Rush. 🙂

  9. I used to listen to Rush, back when I was a good little conservative Mormon. Can’t stand him or his blow-hard ego. His opinions on … oh, never mind. Let’s just say I’m very socially liberal and pretty much fiscally uncaring but, if pinned down, am likely closer to the middle.

    I don’t like talk radio at all really. Even local morning shows grate on me if they drone on longer than a couple of minutes between playing tunes. Rick and Bubba make me want to drive into a concrete wall. Way too much evangelizing for my taste. I want my music, folks, not blabbering mouths.

  10. Cheryl: Welcome, and glad you found me. I’ll see about sucking one of your shows to my iPod tonight.

    ‘seester: Glenn Beck is the guy on CNN, right? I like him all right. Lea thinks a lot of him, and she doesn’t care for punditry, so that says something. I haven’t heard a bit-based morning show I could stand since Power 93, though I will say Rick and Bubba are virtuosos compared to John-Boy and Billy.

    Unclaimed (who counts “radio guy” among his many talents, btw, for those who don’t know): I don’t care for the race-baiting either. However, I don’t think Rush goes any further over the line than some of the so-called “black leaders” do. I don’t say that to excuse it–two wrongs, and all that–but it does bring a little perspective to it.

    Pearl: Laura Ingraham seems reasonably smart, and I love her elven cuteness, but I can’t get into her show. On Rush’s ego: I can handle nearly any personality trait as long as its possessor is honest about it, and he is, so it doesn’t bother me. I enjoy the play he gets out of it, actually. (In the profile, going on about “confiscatory ad rates”–hilarious!)

    Terri: I don’t remember the first time I heard Rush, but I do remember being enthralled by The Way Things Ought to Be, which must have followed radio exposure. Even then I was considerably left of Rush socially, but I had little doubt the guy could communicate, and well.

    Tami: Well, clearly, “his opinions on…oh, never mind.” I mean, I’m pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, and want to end the War on Drugs like right now, so I’m not exactly Rush’s core audience, am I? 🙂

  11. I forgot to add that I agree with almost nothing Mr. Limbaugh has to say. And, as I ride the Oblivion Express (sometimes called the American Society, sometimes the World), I see more and more things going to hell in a handbasket as a direct result of the brand of “conservatism” preached by this fellow and his fellow-travelers.

  12. I can never get past how Rush expresses himself to listen to what he has to say. His delivery annoys me too much. I won’t be listening to him anytime soon.

    I enjoy the guests Glenn Beck has on his show. His political leanings sound closer to mine. I still don’t listen to his rants, though.

  13. […] Ruben Navarrette Jr., who is certainly no GOP apologist, has an interesting column today aimed at those who don’t understand Sarah Palin’s appeal.  If that’s you, go read it.  Or, don’t.  Continue to demonize her without understanding why she resonates with people, and then ask yourself whether that’s worked with Rush Limbaugh. […]

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