Alone along with his multitudes in his studio, he joked, ranted, twitted and burst into track, mimicry or boo-hoos as “The Rush Limbaugh Show” beamed out over 650 stations of the Premier Radio Networks, a subsidiary of iHeartMedia (previously Clear Channel Communications). In his alternate-universe-on-the-air, he was “El Rushbo” and “America’s Anchorman,” within the “Southern Command” bunker of an “Excellence in Broadcasting” community.
To devoted “Dittoheads,” his defiantly self-mocking followers, he was an indomitable patriot, an icon of wit and knowledge — Mark Twain, Father Coughlin and the Founding Fathers rolled into one. His political clout, they stated, lay within the reactions he provoked, avalanches of calls, emails and web site rage, the headlines and occasional reward or wrath from the White House and Capitol Hill.
To detractors he was a sanctimonious charlatan, essentially the most harmful man in America, a label he co-opted. And some critics insisted he had no actual political energy, solely an intimidating, self-aggrandizing presence that swayed an growing older, ultra-right fringe whose numbers, whereas spectacular, weren’t thought of nice sufficient to have an effect on the result of nationwide elections.
In any case, he was a business phenomenon, taking in $85 million a 12 months. Married 4 occasions and divorced 3 times with no kids, he lived on an oceanfront property in a 24,000-square-foot mansion. It featured Oriental carpets, chandeliers and a two-story mahogany-paneled library with leather-bound collections. He had a half-dozen automobiles, one costing $450,000, and a $54 million Gulfstream G550 jet.
Dropping $5,000 suggestions in eating places, affecting the grandiloquence of a proud school dropout, he was himself simply caricatured: chubby all his life, generally topping 300 kilos, a cigar-smoker with an impish grin and sly eyes, the stringy hair slicked again from a mastodon brow. He moved his bulk with stunning grace when displaying how an environmentalist skips daintily in a woodland. But his voice was his brass ring — a jaunty, fast staccato, breaking into squeaky dolphin-talk or falsetto sobbing to reveal the do-gooders, dazzling America along with his creative, bruising vocabulary.
A full obituary will seem quickly.