when I introduced my previous Limbaugh-centered piece to my friends, the list of their reactions sounded like a run-down of swine flu symptoms: projectile vomiting, violently throbbing headaches, contagious dizziness and overall repulsion. Just like swine flu, Rush Limbaugh is hardly soaring anyone, and injects his venom into 14 million people every week. It’s a pandemic. No one recorded a death toll yet, but one thing is for sure: it’s all around, we can’t ignore it, and the best way to fight it is to remain informed.

Once upon a time, Rush Limbaugh infuriated Democrats and scared socialists away. He bullied the moderates, relentlessly mocked the progressives, and whipped the left-wing opposition into shape. Those were the glorious Bush days, when irreverence prevailed and everything was fair game. Only in such environments can a man like Limbaugh rise and prosper: the educated don’t raise their voice for fear of being silenced by a Taser gun and the hopeful youth is kept busy through fear of a unemployement and the crippling debt. No one could stand up to Limbaugh, until the very ground under his feet collapsed. Change is the earthquake people like him try to avoid their whole lives, but alas for this sad and pathetic stereotype of the overprivileged white male, the dies irae caught up with the Bush Administration. Enlightenment tried to force him into a proverbial conservative closet. Lest we understimate Limbaugh’s post-electoral PTSD. After all, he was the one calling for a massive vote in favour of Hilary Clinton in the primaries, something that should have alerted his faithful listeners to the first sign of psychological disarray: what, a woman? Surely he jests.

Wake up, Rush. Reagans no longer president!

Wake up, Rush. Reagan's no longer president!

But jesting Rush would never dare, scared and deeply frightened he appears of the homo-loving commie sons of guns invading his beloved America under his nose, ignoring his pleas for realism. “I hope he fails”, he commented about Obama’s first 100 days, wishing to die as a hero among the crickling ashes of a country he’d rather see crash and burn than evolving into the 21st century. Limbaugh is closer to Stalin than Keynes in his approach, but let’s not tell him this just yet.

As with most public personae, this is not about Limbaugh himself, but who he represents. Often branded as the catalyst for the staunch division of the Republican Party and its consequent downfall, Limbaugh is catalyzing and antagonizing at the speed of light. Showing up and standing up for all the values and ideas even the toughest of conservatives never dared expressing in the era of political correctness (“I am celebrating earth day by leaving all my cars with the motor running and sending my jet plane to Los Angeles and back”), using hyperboles in lieu of realistic input (“everyone in the White House is perfectly trained, educated and programmed to destroy capitalism”) and confusing emotional extremism with straightforward political analysis (“Obama is taking away our freedoms, one by one. This is not hypocrisy. This is tyranny”).

It’d be easy to blame the liberal media for doing the same thing in the Bush era. None of us ever tried to sugarcoat our ideas and beliefs, and were just as righteous as the conservatives when it came to judging the former President on his decisions. The difference between Limbaugh and – well, anyone else who’s ever tried to publicly express a political opinion and who’s not a member of Focus on the Family – is that they are armed with one of those weapons hardly anyone dares using these days: a dictionary. Limbaugh capitalizes on fear, this rampant fear that has been keeping the hardcore Fukoyamaites inside their basement ever since January, this fear that we hadn’t seen ever since the McCarthy days. Socialism is not a dirty word, has never been and will never be. Socialism is not communism. But because Rush Limbaugh sees the Great Depression of ’09 coming his way and possibly taking away his golf course, he’s chanting, reading excerpts from books we thought were obsoletes, and re-animating the good old anti-liberal propaganda of the Cold War days. This is not a recession, this is regression.

If socialism means a policy axed on the regulation of trade, this is socialism. If socialism is a political ideology based on a welfare state, we are still several steps away from it. What’s keeping Rush Limbaugh up at night is not the alleged disappearing act of his civil liberties, it’s not a black President shaking hands with Medvedev, it’s not the idea of women up in the Supreme Court. What bothers Limbaugh, in general, is change. It’s the idea that something might have to be controlled. Limbaugh is a like a child suddenly waking up to discipline.  From the very beginning Limbaugh saw through that very young man from Chicago’s South Side and knew something was up with this kid – something that was way different from all the appropriate, clean-cut, and predictable White House staffers. We have to give Rush some credit for having perhaps perceived what only early Obama supporters felt: the rise of something peculiar, the beginning of the end of an old regime – a regime that had been until then extremely favorable to Rush and his peers.

Who’s to say Rush Limbaugh is going to lose everything he’s ever believed in under the Obama Administration? 100 days after the investiture, we’re still a long way away from the end of this presidential term. Commenting on Obama’s trip to Europe, Limbaugh said: “He went everywhere and apologized for the greatest country in history, the most compassionate, the biggest defensor of liberties.” What Limbaugh didn’t understand is that the new administration is trying to get one step closer to this vision – and this is why they apologized, for all those moments when the United States stopped being what they had hoped they’d become. Stop, Limbaugh. Instead of ranting, just listen.

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