By Dan Spalding
I used to be a big fan of Rush Limbaugh years ago.
I caught the bug in the late ’80s when I would hear wisps of his radio show while driving around on assignments for work and during lunch.
Limbaugh died this week from lung cancer at the age of 70 and it’s given many a chance to consider his impact (good and bad) on media, politics and our national condition.
Rush single-handedly (with one hand tied behind his back) kept AM radio afloat while also setting the standard for conservative talk radio over the span of seven U.S. presidents.
Back in his early days, the iconic talk show host was as equally funny as he was insightful and agitating. His skits about Bill Clinton were hilarious, but for whatever reason, those productions eventually disappeared.
I kept listening, though, and grew to appreciate some of the conservative philosophies he would espouse. I was not a Ditto-Head. I was part of that small segment of fans who loved to dislike him.
I remember often returning from lunch to the old Times-Union newsroom for further re-interpretation from Gary Gerard, the managing editor. That would often cascade into arguments that would sometimes find their way into his columns. Gerard was great at creating newsroom debate for the sake of developing a column and I was happy to give my two cents.
While conservatives hail Limbaugh as a great American hero (Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis called for flags in the state to be lowered to half-staff), many more folks saw him as a racist, sexist, homophobe who delighted in angry political discourse.
He popularized the term Feminazi, a pejorative term for feminists that became his trademark slur.
He called a college student a slut after she voiced support for birth control to be covered as part of Obamacare.
He mocked the names of those who died of AIDS.
And he got an endless amount of mileage from Bill and Hillary Clinton over his broadcasting career. His disdain for Hilllary was epic, one could wonder if Hillary would have won the presidency in 2016 if not for some 28 years of demonizing by Rush.
As conservative commentator Charlie Sykes wrote this week, Limbaugh “cultivated an insensitivity that normalized cruelty, racism and misogyny.”
I personally hit the turning point a few years ago when I heard him mocking and imitating Chinese President Xi Jinping. The rant was obscenely juvenile and it occurred to me there was nothing to gain by listening anymore.
The timing of Limbaugh’s death is worth considering. The intersection between Rush and Trumpism melded perfectly for five years.
But in a matter of months – at a crucial time in Republican politics – conservatives have lost their two biggest, loudest voices. It’s unclear if Trump will ever resurface on a major social media platform or how else he could carry on his message.
Exactly where fans of Rush will migrate to for a daily dose of politics is anyone’s guess. There are oodles of choices, but nobody at this point stands out.
Critics are no doubt glad that Limbaugh lived long enough to see the ruinous effect of such angry conservatism in recent months. Trump lost the House, the Senate and the White House. His efforts in the Georgia Senate race backfired and his actions leading to the riot will be scrutinized for decades.
It would have been fun to hear Rush talk his way around that one.
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GOP CHANGES – Longtime Republican leader Marsha McSherry is stepping down in her role as Kosciusko County Republican Party vice-chair and has endorsed Kristi Ormsby for the role.
County chair Mike Ragan said he believes the change involving McSherry will be the only revision when Republicans meet to reorganize on March 6.
McSherry estimates she’s been in the her role for approximately 20 years and said she feels it’s the right time to step down.
Ormsby has worked behind the scenes in at least two General Assembly campaigns and works in Indianapolis during the legislative session. Her husband, Ed Ormsby, became the county attorney in January.
“Absolutely, I support Kristi wholeheartedly,” McSherry said. “I think Kristi brings a lot to the table … she brings fresh ideas and she has a lot of connections.”
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NEW SPIN-OFF HQ? – An InkFreeNews reader noted that when Zimmer Biomet announced plans to spin off its spine and dental businesses to form a new, publicly-traded company that they did not indicate where the headquarters would be.
So we checked and it’s still unclear.
Zimmer Biomet’s spine and dental businesses are headquartered in Colorado and Florida, respectively.
“While NewCo will have a global presence across multiple geographies and facilities, no specific site or sites have yet been declared as the headquarters of the new organization,” said Monica Kendrick, vice president of product communications and philanthropy.
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FLAG STATUS – If you lowered your US flag to honor the late Susan Bayh, it’s time to put it back to full staff. Gov. Eric Holcomb’s directive suggested flags go back to full staff after Thursday.
Dan Spalding is the editor at InkFreeNews.com.
He covers city government and politics and always welcomes your input.