Hey, so whatever happened to “never speak ill of the dead”?
I should remind you that because all these chubby purveyors of right-wing outrage, at some point in their lives, must cross paths, it was natural to expect Rush Limbaugh and my old boss Roger Ailes to collude, which they did from 1992 to 1996, when Ailes produced Limbaugh’s ill-fated TV show. Rush eventually admitted he hated the TV version, maybe because it was a medium in which it was too hard to get away with his particular jocular schtick, so he went back to concentrating on radio.
I once bought one of Limbaugh’s books, I can’t remember which, in which I think I discovered the secret to his success, which was that he would every now and again interrupt his broadcast blather to earnestly remind his listeners once again that he is not a journalist, that he’s an entertainer, and to warn them to not take his silliness seriously or hold him to any standard of truth, that he is there just for the ratings and the money — and then he would go back to spouting his usual bullshit, which of course people continued to take quite seriously. Due to this disclaimer, you never could call him on his lies, since he would insist that he never meant for people to believe them in the first place!
It was the same bullet-proof “Gaslight” formula later perfected by Donald Trump (remember his famous misinterpretation of the Mueller report? “”), which Trump undoubtedly learned from Rush.
And why does it work?
Because there is just a large enough cohort out there that wants to believe that, say, "Black people are trying to live off the wealth of the rest of us", even though such a claim is totally unsupported — but a claim being unsupported is okay because, after all, it’s meant to be taken only as light-hearted humorous entertainment, maybe to be taken "seriously but not literally”, and not necessarily to be actually believed! (Wink-wink!)
In short, just hearing this “alternate facts” nonsense from someone in mass media seems to give permission for some of us to accept the otherwise crazy stuff that we want to believe but that we shouldn’t believe, weird stupid “politically-incorrect” stuff that had always been considered unacceptable in civilized society.
But this also describes the success of the Republican belief system in the age of Limbaugh and Trump. People feel they have a right to want to live in a society that, let’s face it, isn’t necessarily fair to everybody. After all, the whole world isn’t necessarily fair, and who are we to mess with God’s plan?
Except for maybe just the words “Small Government, Low Taxes”, there essentially is no Republican doctrine that Republicans are seriously selling to the public, since none of its underlying truths (e.g., “tax cuts pay for themselves”) make any real sense, but this is not to say that there aren’t a whole set of aspirational “hopes and dreams” that citizens feel they have a right to believe in, their lack of veracity notwithstanding, along with which, if we’re lucky, will come a straight-talking blond-haired American messiah who takes no shit from “progressives" in his fight to make these dreams become reality.
This is why, even as thoughtful so-called "movement” conservatives insist Limbaugh and Trump aren’t true conservatives, Limbaugh and Trump and their ambiguous wink-wink “truthiness" have turned out to be way more popular with the “I-could-never-be-a-Democrat-because-I-just-hate-Godless-Communism” Joe-and-Karen-Sixpack conservatives of the world than these “thinking-man” conservatives ever were or will be.
The tragic truth is, Limbaugh, who helped create Trump and our modern post-truth world, might be dead but he is not at all gone for good.