LAST October – after learning that far-right-American social commentator and conspiracy theorist par excellence Rush Limbaugh, right, had lung cancer – evangelist Lance Wallnau, left, ‘banished the demon of cancer in Jesus’s name,’ saying in this video that prayers would give Rush a ‘life extension.’
Turns out it was a short extension. Yesterday the “talk radio icon” and cigar connoisseur snuffed it aged 70.
Conservative media outlets are heaping tributes on him, and Fox News reported that Trump, who awarded the provocative broadcaster a Presidential Medal of Freedom last February, said:
There aren’t too many legends around, but he is a legend. He had tremendous insight. He got it, he really got it.
But Rolling Stone portrays Limbaugh in a far different light, and its report of his death – under the headline “Rush Limbaugh Did His Best to Ruin America” – doesn’t paint a pretty picture of the lunatic.
A lengthy piece penned by Doug Mills reveals that Limbaugh got off his sick bed after the Capitol riot to declare that there was no riotious insurrection on January 6 because Republicans don’t have a violent bone in their bodies.
Yeah, I know they breached the doors and took some selfies. These are Republicans, they don’t raise mayhem. They don’t know how.
But way before he helped put America on the path to Trumpism “with his bigotry and cruelty,” Limbaugh already had a reputation for years of stoking racism, misogny and homophobia.
And he was horrified when Obama came to power.
During Obama election campaign, Limbaugh mostly took the old-school route, trotting out racial-stereotype ‘jokes’ (‘If Obama weren’t black, he’d be a tour guide in Hawaii’) and ‘parodies‘ (‘Barack the Magic Negro’.). But something snapped in Limbaugh, just as surely as in his listeners, when the black man won.
Four days before the inauguration of the popular and historic new president, Limbaugh told his listeners that he’d been asked by The Wall Street Journal to join others in writing 400 words on their hopes for Obama’s next four years. Limbaugh said he only needed four: ‘I hope he fails.’
Limbaugh is routinely credited with ‘paving the way for a President Trump,’ the same way he’s characterized as ‘helping move the Republican Party to the right. But it went much deeper than that, on both counts.
Limbaugh served as a sort of original model for Trump – the comic-blowhard authoritarian who provides endless entertainment, infallible-though-incredible wisdom, and marching orders for the tribe. And by 2015, he’d helped nudge and bully the party not toward some kind of hardcore conservatism, but in a radically nihilistic direction.
When COVID-19 came rolling into America, Limbaugh was:
Leading the parade of Covid-19 denial and deflection with a quote that would echo through the right-wing chamber for months to come: ‘The coronavirus is the common cold, folks.’ Limbaugh turned Covid-19 into a culture war, a partisan litmus test – and one that would have particularly deadly consequences in red-state America, of course, once summer rolled around and the ‘common cold’ had somehow not magically disappeared.
Mask wearing was a ‘symbol of fear,’ he preached from the start; taking precautions against the virus was downright unpatriotic.
Moving on to the Democrats’ victory, Limbaugh described Joe Biden as “a placeholder” – a man suffering old-age mental deficiencies that are going to make it impossible for him to carry out presidential duties daily, and there was a grand plot to appoint Kamala “Kommie” Harris dictator of a new socialist regime.
The debate over whether Limbaugh really meant his bullshit will no doubt be revived now that lung cancer has taken the man who once, while denying the dangers of smoking, declared, ‘I want a medal for smoking cigars!
But what matters isn’t ultimately why Limbaugh used his extraordinary talents to lead white America into the arms of Trump; it’s the reality of the smoking ruins left behind after his three decades as white America’s talker-in-chief.
The Pandora’s box of right-wing nuttery that Limbaugh brought into the mainstream will be loose on the land for the foreseeable future. There’s no putting the lid back on it now.
But back to Texas-based Wallnau. Today on YouTube he made no reference to his “banishment” of Limbaugh’s cancer and said he said he would never have imagined waking up to world without Trump and Limbaugh.
He described Limbaugh as being “a secular prophet” in the same way that Winston Churchill was.
Hat tip: Angela_K.