Dead Terrrorist: Rush Limbaugh Wrecked America

When I heard Rush Limbaugh had finally died, my first thought was "I hope he was screaming in pain when the light switch flicked off." He had lost his hearing, battled opioid addiction, and succumbed to lung cancer, and he still didn't suffer enough. I hope he realized at the end that there was no afterlife, that after he died, he was dead. Forever. 

Rush Limbaugh was already a mad bomber before he was invited to become the spiritual leader of the terrorist movement known as the Republican Party. The top hyena of the savage beasts of right-wing talk radio, Limbaugh was the jabbering clown, mixing the naughty school boy humor of drive-time DJs and the nonstop ranting of an end times preacher. He gave voice to the aggrieved white men who saw their hegemonic control over everything being encroached upon by women, by people of color, by gays and lesbians, by them, that undefined shadow culture ready to wreck all that the good, bleached, heteronationalists had done for the ungrateful hottentots, whores, and homos. He turned "liberal" into a dirty word, and we are just recovering from that.

Like Ronald Reagan letting the evangelical sadists into the White House, thus making them a poisonous political force we are dealing with to this day, Limbaugh's status was legitimized by President George H. W. Bush. Bush was seeking man-of-the-people street cred in his run against the genuinely earthy Bill Clinton in 1992. Against the young, hip, sexually-voracious Clinton, Bush seemed like an out-of-touch dilettante, a prissy pussy, a rich elitist, so he took a sojourn to Limbaugh's studio, which must have smelled like phlegmy cigar breath and fiery beef farts, to canoodle with the egotistical prick with a mic, who was already on a tear against both Bill and Hillary Clinton, with whom he'd be obsessed for the rest of his shitty life. And why not? In that election year, Limbaugh was the most popular talk radio host in the country, he had a number one bestseller with his first book, and was about to launch his quick and pathetic failure of a TV show. He was fucking ubiquitous. Hell, Bush had already hosted him overnight at the White House. 

You who weren't aware or alive during this time have no idea how huge Limbaugh was, how significant, and how omnipresent he was. I was talking to my pal Mark last night about it. Back in the 1990s, as part of a radio drama show I produced in Tennessee, I wrote a parody of Limbaugh called "The Rich Flemball Show" (no, it was not subtle). And Mark played Flemball, so I thought he'd have some insights or at least a good insult or two upon that bastard's death. He told me about how, in his town in middle Tennessee, "There was a barbecue restaurant that had a Rush room. Every day they would turn on Rush to listen, and every day the room would be filled with people who wanted to listen to Rush." He said that when Limbaugh was at his peak, you couldn't be at a red light without someone blaring Rush. "My mail carrier would have Rush playing whenever she drove up," he added.  People wanted to act like and be Rush Limbaugh. (And, yes, radio was that important back then, pre-internet, pre-Fox "news.")

There was something else that George H. W. Bush was seeking that Limbaugh embodied: identification with a caricature of a type of masculinity. Not rugged machismo, no, that was for Reagan and his horses and ranch. That took too much physical effort. Instead, it was a white male dominance, a sense that power and acclaim and riches and women were owed to the white men. In Limbaugh's telling, it wasn’t enough that men were seen as superior. It’s that all opposed to men had to be defeated and denigrated. You couldn't just say someone was wrong; you had to dehumanize them, and that meant something beyond calling them "hippies" or "communists" (although he certainly did). It meant being as savage and cruel as possible. Limbaugh set out to destroy the center and the left in our political spectrum, leaving only a brute force right led by white men and possibly a non-white or two who acknowledged how awesome white men are.

You can read all about Limbaugh's wanton cruelty, like his attacks on women's sexuality while constantly bragging about his own. He didn't coin the term "feminazi," but he popularized it to the point that it helped wreck the momentum of the feminist movement for decades. That pejorative debased any feminist effort, from equal pay to equal treatment at work to issues like rape laws and sexual harassment policies, all things he saw as attacks on normative white masculinity. He wrote in in The Way Things Ought to Be, "A feminazi is a woman to whom the most important thing in life is seeing to it that as many abortions as possible are performed." His reasoning is that women want abortions because it disempowers men. "They don't need men in order to be happy," he blathered on motherfuckingly. "They certainly don't want males to be able to exert any control over them. Abortion is the ultimate symbol of women's emancipation from the power and influence of men." Remember: he's saying that this is a bad thing. Anything a woman did to gain power had to be done at the expense of male power, and that shit would not stand in his perverse world view.

There was an image of the white male as the natural leader of the world, that to criticize the white male is to demean him (which is the narcissistic way in which "political correctness" and "cancel culture" are defined by these pricks). Limbaugh didn't invent toxic masculinity, but he made it something to be embraced, something to aspire to for men, and you had to actively resist it. For many in the 1990s and since, it's easier to embrace this image of the white collar male as conqueror, the Attilas of the cubicles. It presents an outdated and even comforting way of ordering the world, but, of course, it was one that was based on a bullshit hierarchy and notions of gender and race that were outdated in the 1970s. 

Mark said, "The one image that sticks in my head is a close-up photo of him, looking up at his jowls, cigar stuck between his teeth, as if saying, 'Look what a tough son of a bitch I am.'" And on his show, he would assert an alpha male dominance over callers that was just tedious because he always could just cut them off and move on. Limbaugh couched all of this in biblical bullshit, yammering on about how Christianity needed to be taught in schools and that biblical notions of identity needed to be enforced. He embraced the evangelical nutzoids and they embraced him because they both pushed a patriarchal view that was the antithesis of the embrace of equality of the sexes, genders, sexualities, and races. That shit is comforting to too many people, and Limbaugh leaned into it, even as he rotated through so many wives it was as if he announced, "Bring me another woman. This one broke" before he moved on to the next one. 

Some will tell you that Limbaugh was funny, that his caller abortions and his jokey slams on the disabled and the deceased were just dark, edgy humor. Except this deaf bitch punched down most of the time, and that's not funny. Besides, that's what conservatives will always say when they're caught being complete fucks: we were joking. I read Limbaugh's fucking books. He wasn't joking. Chances are that he hated you and wanted you to be, at least, subservient to him, or, even, dead at his feet.

We are living in the United States that Rush Limbaugh was a large part of creating. He inspired Newt Gingrich to fuck up the running of Congress. He tore apart families like right-wing media and Donald Trump did in more recent decades. Hell, my brother listened to that brazen buffoon for a few years, and I regularly had to say, "No, fuck him. I wish he would choke to death on one of his cock-substitute stogies." He perverted media by substituting his bullshit lies for actual facts. He showed Roger Ailes that you could make shit-tons of money by spouting the most racist, divisive fuckery and laugh at the rubes while you counted the cash. He was cruel to the weak and made hate into a something to aspire to. Jesus, he made it fine for conservatives to not even pretend they gave a shit about people who weren't them and gave license for the right to use degrading language to anyone different. And he inspired all those even further devolved shit worms that came after him, like Hannity and Coulter and fucking Tucker Carlson. 

"He won," Mark said. "He made the Republican Party in his image: a bunch of fucking misanthropes with no sense of humor about themselves, and that's it. That's who they are for the foreseeable future. He's a big part of why their party is so broken, that us vs. them mentality." He didn't do it alone, but, goddamn, he gave the GOP license to treat legislating as a battle to the death. He fanned flames of the culture war until he could cackle over the conflagrations like a gleeful arsonist jacking off as his fires burned down schoolhouses. "I'm glad he lived to see Trump lose," Mark said, for, yes, Trump was the ideal Limbaugh president, a fake tough guy who thought his bravado and bullshit masculinity would make him a great leader. 

I hated Rush Limbaugh for over three decades. It was a visceral, burning hatred, the kind that has only been topped by a hatred for George W. Bush and Donald Trump. I fucking hate bullies, and that's what he was, always pushing around others through his sexism and racism and homophobia and Islamophobia. More than that, he was a terrorist, finding new targets to poison and electrocute and blow up. He didn't give a fuck how much damage he did as long as he got credit for doing it. He wanted you to feel inferior to him, like every half-assed, self-hating shitheel in history. And he arguably caused more death and destruction than ten Osama bin Ladens. It would take volumes to detail all the evil done by him and in his name.

Yeah, I fucking hope he died screaming. I fucking hope he was in just enough pain to feel it all without going into shock. If there's a hell, I hope he's next to Antonin Scalia, awaiting a train of hot, spiked demon dicks to ream his ass and mouth for eternity, two spurts of lava jizz coursing through him from each side until they fill his desiccated lungs, over and over again. 

Then he'll begin to come close to feeling all the suffering he caused on earth.

(Note: There are no fat jokes in here because I made enough of them over the years. Unlike Limbaugh, I don't do the same schtick forever.)