O.K., before I take fire from all sides, please understand my criteria: the person I choose has to move forward the cause of intellectualism and conservatism in America, and be a stalwart protector of freedom and defender of the Constitution. So my criteria is narrow. And of course, at least I have criteria, unlike the Nobel Committee selecting a President who has done nothing, or Time magazine for selecting a man that was as responsible for last year’s economic crisis as anyone on the face of the planet.
That said, using these criteria, I frankly could not think of anyone better than Rush Limbaugh. This will draw the ire of liberals, I am sure, and I will quickly be referred to as a conservative idealogue. But I will make my case, and you can choose to agree and disagree as you wish.
The conservative movement was lost one year ago. After nominating a non-conservative as their presidential candidate, and suffering a catastrophic defeat at the polls, it looked like our movement would be lost in the woods for a generation. Barack Obama’s ‘trimuphant’ coronation/inauguration only made things worse. And the straw that broke the camel’s back was Arlen Specter defecting, giving the Democrats the 60 votes in the Senate they needed to do as they wished.
In those dark days, there was no political leader to look to. The Republican Party had proven inept and corrupt of ideas. Potential 2012 Republican nominees such as Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee frankly have yet to tap into the emotion of the base.
Only Rush Limbaugh spoke for conservatives.
He was the lone voice speaking up against Obama. Very few others had the courage to do so early in the year, fearing retaliatory attacks and claims of racism. None of us knew where the line was on criticizing America’s first African-American President.
And into that vacuum went Mr. Limbaugh.
I am not a blind support of Rush’s. I do criticize him when he deserves it. And he has a multitude of errors…who would expect anything else from someone who speaks for 15 hours on the radio every week? And his arrogance on the air sometimes makes him say things that he would probably rethink later. But his mistakes pale in comparison to the message he voiced.
Limbaugh voiced the inner anger that was boiling within much of America, as neoliberals started their extremist crusade. When the stimulus was being pushed, it was largely Limbaugh and other conservative commentators that spoke out, as Republican opposition was non-existent. And when GOP Chairman Michael Steele made comments trying to moderate the Republican line, it was Limbaugh that stood up for the conservative ideals that are at the heart of the traditional Republican movement.
For Limbaugh, it was an up and down year. He was attacked viciously by the left, even by the White House and Congressional Democratic leaders. If you think talk of the Fairness Doctrine was targeting anyone other than Limbaugh, you are crazy…he was and always will be Enemy No. 1 for the progressives. Limbaugh waged a war against the Fairness Doctrine, an ugly concept that helps erode the First Amendment.
When talk about Limbaugh started about partial ownership in a NFL franchise, it started a storm of controversy. The discussion of whether Limbaugh should be an owner in the NFL was legitimate…the quotes used to target him were not, as most, if not all, were proved false. But Limbaugh stood his ground, for good or ill. He would not be swept aside.
The only other person I could think of that may have been deserving of this award was former Vice President Dick Cheney, whom Human Events chose as their Conservative of the Year. I think Cheney certainly was very effective when he spoke out, first about the CIA investigations, and later about the Afghanistan troop decision. In each case, Cheney won the argument, if you look at the poll numbers alone. But Cheney spoke out at specific times on specific topics, and then disappeared.
However, I still feel Limbaugh was the more influential character on the conservative side. Daily, it was Limbaugh who voice the argument that was carried out by conservative bloggers, such as myself. You could hear echoes of Rush in the Tea Party protests that resonated across the country. And many of the protests that defined the health care debate were not organized by any single conservative, but in their chant you could hear the whisper of Limbaugh’s monologues.
So I select Rush H. Limbaugh as my Person of the Year. I think when we look back, what we will remember about 2009 is that it was a tumultuous year politically and economically, and a devastating year for conservatives. And as the socialist trend swept America, the lone voice that gave the middle of America hope was Rush.
Rush is far from a perfect individual. I am sure liberals will be more than happy to provide you with the multitude of stupid things Rush has said and done over the years. And I do not forget those things. But that doesn’t mean that his influence on the conservative movement, or American politics at large, is diminshed. No less than President Obama anointed Rush as the leader of the opposition. That position likely will be transitioned to real politicians in the year to come. But for 2009, a year that conservatives felt lost in the wilderness, Rush Limbaugh was the lone voice of optimism and hope. And in that position, I think he has done all he can to uphold the rights and liberties we hold dear.