Man of the Year: Rush Limbaugh

Rush Limbaugh’s detractors never learn. They’ve tried everything to come between Rush and his more than 20 million listeners, intending to destroy his appeal and impact. But it’s a hopeless, almost laughable endeavor. They led boycotts against his advertisers — yet his show continues to generate more revenue than any other on radio. They pressured his affiliates to drop his program, but he’s still heard on more than 600 stations — more than any other talk host. They tried to keep him off Armed Forces Radio, of course, but he has the most popular program on the military’s radio network.

Will Not Be Intimidated

Try as they might, the Rush-haters cannot silence him, or persuade his massive audience to tune him out. After two decades as the top talk host in the nation, his ratings are stronger than ever. He is more popular and influential than ever. And yet, the Rush-haters persist. Their favorite tactic is to twist Rush’s on-air remarks to make them fit their stereotypes and to advance their political objectives.

Rush has never bowed to efforts by the left to control our national debate through intimidation tactics. A few months ago, when the Democrats shamelessly used Graeme Frost, a 12-year-old who had been in a terrible car accident, to promote the expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) entitlement, it was Rush, with information from folks on conservative websites such as Free Republic, who told America that the Frost family was not as it was represented to be by the Democrats and the Big Media. The Frosts had been financially able to purchase health insurance but apparently had chosen not to. Among other things, the parents sent their two daughters to an expensive private school, at an apparent cost of $40,000 per year. For exposing this sham, Rush was accused of picking on the poor seventh grader. Well, as Rush explained at the time, she’d been used, but not by him — by her own parents, the Democrats and the media.

Home Run After Home Run

When David Ehrenstein, a Hollywood writer, penned an opinion piece last year in the Los Angeles Times, characterizing Illinois Democratic Sen. Barak Obama as “The Magic Negro,” Rush seized the moment to expose liberal hypocrisy with a parody — “Barak the Magic Negro” (played to the tune of “Puff the Magic Dragon”). The Rush-haters pounced, claiming falsely that Rush, not Ehrenstein, was employing a racial slur against Obama. No, Rush was ridiculing the left, and once again, it hit home. And when Rush was pressured to stop playing the parody, he defiantly played it over and over again.

During the 2006 elections, the Democrats shamelessly used Michael J. Fox in targeted congressional races to campaign against Republicans who opposed taxpayer-financed stem-cell research, including running television ads featuring Fox. And in those commercials, Fox was visibly shaking from the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. The political message was clear: Vote against these Republicans because they are heartless people who oppose curing diseases. Well, Rush would have none of it. He criticized the Democrats’ use of Fox, Fox’s politicization of a medical issue and the dishonesty of the ads. As usual, the Democrats and liberal media distorted Rush’s argument, accusing him of mocking Fox and his ailments. They sought to deflect criticism from their own crude political behavior. But again, they failed.

Most Important Voice on the Right

What is it about Rush that drives the left crazy (that is, crazier than they already are)? The answer is actually quite simple: Rush is the most important voice in the conservative movement. Others want to be, some claim to be, but he is. More than any conservative politician, columnist or pundit, Rush speaks for us. His opinions are principled and consistent. He has a brilliant mind and a voracious appetite for knowledge and truth, all of which he uses behind his golden EIB microphone to teach and persuade as he cuts through the daily media clutter. He has the guts to say what so many of us are thinking to ourselves. And Rush’s likable and optimistic personality and entertaining style attract increasing numbers of conservative adherents. Liberals consider Rush and his talk show the greatest threats to their agenda and pursuit of power, and they’re right.

The most stunning and desperate assault on Rush was launched just a few weeks ago when the ethically challenged Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) — armed with propaganda prepared by a Clinton front group that calls itself “Media Matters for America” (which also claims to be a tax-exempt charitable foundation) — tried to use the power of his office to squelch Rush with a threatening letter, signed by dozens of his Democratic colleagues, to Rush’s Clear Channel broadcast partner. What was all the fuss about?

During a Morning Update broadcast, Rush criticized fake soldiers such as Jesse MacBeth and the left’s support for them. MacBeth claimed to have served in Iraq as an Army Ranger. MacBeth was embraced by the anti-war movement and appeared on several media outlets solely because of his vicious smears against the United States military. But MacBeth was a fraud. He was forced out of the Army in 44 days and never received the Purple Heart, as he had claimed. A press release from the United States attorney’s office that prosecuted MacBeth, among other fake soldiers, states:

“Jesse MacBeth, 23, Tacoma, Wash., sentenced today in connection with his fraudulent claims of military service. MacBeth sought medical benefits claiming to suffer from PTSD related to service in Iraq and Afghanistan, in fact, Macbeth was discharged from the Army about a month after he joined. MacBeth never traveled outside the U.S. with the Army. Macbeth duped reporters, claiming to be a decorated Army Ranger who had witnessed war crimes.”

In a subsequent conversation with a caller who complained that the media “never talk to real soldiers,” Rush referred to these fake soldiers as “phony soldiers.” There was nothing remotely controversial about his statement. But Media Matters, putting words in Rush’s mouth, claimed that Rush had challenged the patriotism of real soldiers who had actually served but opposed the Iraq War.

Advocate of the Military

Now, anybody who has spent any time listening to Rush knew this was false. There is no greater advocate — on or off the air — for the military and its mission. And unlike Reid and most of the other anti-war Democrats, over the years Rush has quietly made significant contributions to the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation. But it didn’t matter.
Reid ran with the lie, as did many of his fellow Democrats and media friends, believing they could damage Rush’s reputation, drive a wedge between Rush and his audience and advance the Democrats’ political agenda. To my knowledge, never before has a Senate leader attempted to use the force of government against a private citizen in this way. And rather than condemn Reid, the Big Media cheered him on by repeating his lies.

So, the stakes were extremely high. Would a powerful Democratic politician and Clinton front group be able to cripple Rush and damage the conservative cause through intimidation and dishonest tactics? Well, they don’t know Rush like we do. They picked a fight with the wrong guy.

Rush confronted, mocked and exposed Reid and Media Matters as dissembling bullies. And in an act of absolute brilliance, he put the Reid letter — signed by the likes of Hillary Clinton (N.Y.), John Kerry (Mass.), Teddy Kennedy (Mass.) and other anti-war senators — up for auction on eBay, not only pledging that all proceeds would go to his beloved

Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation, but announcing that he’d match the winning bid. The auction brought $2.1 million, and when combined with Rush’s matching donation, the Reid letter generated a whopping $4.2 million for the foundation! But Rush wasn’t finished. He challenged Reid to raise or contribute an equal amount for the troops. We’re all still waiting.

For this, and all else he does every day to defend our founding principles, HUMAN EVENTS confers on Rush Limbaugh its 2007 Man of the Year Award.

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