On Monday, America’s top-rated talk radio host Rush Limbaugh stunned the nation by announcing that he was recently diagnosed with advanced lung cancer, describing the day as “one of the most difficult” in recent memory for him because he had to inform both his staff and his faithful audience about the dire diagnosis. Despite having to deliver the hard news, Limbaugh didn’t let what he is facing get in the way of what he called “the source of my greatest satisfaction professionally, personally”: performing his duties as a beloved conservative host as “competently and as expertly” as he does “each and every day.”
While he dedicated one segment Monday to the announcement, for the rest of the show Rush addressed less personal and heavy topics, including what he said was one of his “favorite stories of the weekend.” The story, written by Politico chief Washington correspondent and CNN senior political analyst Ryan Lizza, addresses a quality among Donald Trump supporters — and conservatives in general — that Limbaugh has touched on in the past: “joy.”
“I had not been to a Trump rally since the 2016 campaign,” Lizza wrote in the piece, titled “The Unexpected Joy at a Trump Rally in Iowa” and published Friday. “And the first thing I noticed Thursday night when Donald Trump and Mike Pence spoke at Drake University in Des Moines was how much more joyous the event was for his supporters than what I remember from four years ago.”
“In 2016, perhaps because Republicans were out of power and Trump was running purely against the system, his crowds often had an undertone of anger that bordered on menacing,” Lizza continued. “But with Trump in power, presiding over peace and prosperity, on the cusp of beating two articles of impeachment, and dominating the news when it should be the Democratic candidates’ moment to shine, his fans seemed in a celebratory mood.”
While Lizza found himself surprised by joy at the Des Moines rally, Rush was not because, as he explained, Americans living outside the Washington bubble have a lot to be joyful about.
Limbaugh led into the discussion by noting how out of touch Democrats are when it comes to Trump rallies. “Do you realize how few Democrats, elected Democrats, Washington Democrats, DNC kind of Democrats, do you realize how few of them have actually ever been to a Trump rally?” he asked. “You could probably count them on one hand. And I’m not exaggerating.”
“They watch these things, if they watch, from afar on TV, and they mock them and they make fun of the people there,” he added. “And they laugh and make fun of Trump. And they look at these crowds, three-day crowds of 75,000 to 100,000 people wanting in to a 10,000-seat the venue. And somehow they tell themselves it doesn’t mean anything. It’s just Looney Tunes. It’s just white supremacists or white nationalists or a bunch of racist pigs or a bunch of chauvinists, however they characterize and mock Trump voters.”
But when Lizza finally goes to one after four years of keeping away, he finds something “unexpected” — all that “anger” and “resentment” and “bitterness” supposedly characterizing the “deplorables” is conspicuously missing. In their place was a sense of positivity and celebration of a shared “peace and prosperity.”
“‘Presiding over peace and prosperity,'” Limbaugh read, quoting Lizza. “That’s the Drive-By Media. They know. They know. If there were a Democrat, peace and prosperity would be the only thing you’d be seeing characterizing the Democrat administration. Except there can never be peace and prosperity in America with the Democrat Party in charge as it is currently constituted.”
As evidence, Rush pointed to the Democratic presidential candidates. “What are they promising to do?” he asked. “Dismantle all of this. Dismantling all of this that’s creating what ought to be a new normal, a new normal not of permanent decline, not of America’s best days are behind us.”
Noting Trump’s quote from the rally in Des Moines that, unlike during previous presidential impeachments, “This is a happy period for us,” Limbaugh said, “Boy, is that ever true. Have these people stepped in it or what?”
Limbaugh then contrasted the joy of the Trump crowd with Washington.
“There isn’t any joy in official Washington,” he said. “There hasn’t been in 3-1/2 or more years. In fact, on the Democrat Party side, the left side — and, folks, I’m not saying this because it’s rote. It’s really true. There isn’t any joy, on average, any day for American liberals five years ago, 10 years ago, yesterday, tomorrow.”
Limbaugh closed by summarizing an argument he’s made in the past about the joylessness of liberalism.
“Liberalism is constitutionally, foundationally incapable of providing joy for people because it’s rooted in grievance,” he said. “It’s rooted in anger, misery, and unhappiness and the false promises to fix all that.”
“So this guy finally takes the plunge, braves a Trump rally,” he added. “He doesn’t find angry white supremacists, white nationalists. He doesn’t find any anger at all. He finds people loving life, living the dream, enjoying themselves and where they are, enjoying each other. Stop and think. That must be so odd, so unique for these people that an entire news article was written about it. As if joy and peace and prosperity and meeting new friends and having a great time making new friends — that’s so unusual that it is worth writing a story about.”
As for how Limbaugh can keep his sense of joy amid the difficult diagnosis, he hinted at what’s behind it in his broadcast Monday. “I told the staff today that I have a deeply personal relationship with God that I do not proselytize about, but I do,” he said — adding with his characteristically joyful chuckle, “And I have been working that relationship tremendously.”
Transcript via RushLimbaugh.com