I’ve been putting it off but I feel obliged to say something about this unpleasant topic. Limbaugh was an awful human being, but an enormously consequential figure: as Michael Tomasky notes, he did more to poison American politics than anyone else in the last 50 years outside of Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump.
My one extended exposure to Limbaugh’s bile was on a car trip through rural southeastern California (I think it was Nunes’s district) when there was nothing else on the radio, so we reconciled ourselves to listening to Limbaugh. We lasted for about 40 minutes of ugly ranting, full of gross distortions of reality with a sprinkling of outright lies.
Limbaugh helped pave the way for Donald Trump by being even worse than Trump. He was no less dishonest and even more shamelessly racist, misogynist, and mean. Joan Walsh gets it right:
Limbaugh was a needy, narcissistic man-child who, like most bullies, almost always punched down. If you paid attention to whom he was attacking, and why, you could often sense his wounds, his toxic white masculinity, his sad sense of thwarted entitlement—to women, to sex, to power; to never having to think about the racism that made his rise possible—and his rage at not getting enough of any of what he wanted.
Does that sound like anyone else we know? “
If you feel a need to read more about Limbaugh, this is a good, hard hitting obit. The Tomasky piece cited above also does an interesting job showing Limbaugh’s debt to Ronald Reagan.