As a kid growing up in the 1990s, I did not like listening to Rush Limbaugh. I was a Democrat. He was a Republican. I was an intellectual who wanted to go to Yale University. He was a proud populist. I liked the Clintons. He didn’t. I often found his arguments to be shallow and reactive. (Mine were anything but that, of course.)
Yet, as I reflected on Limbaugh’s death this week, I realized those many hours I was forced to listen to his radio show—usually in the car with my parents or grandparents, if they weren’t listening to Laura Schlesinger or Jim Rome, two other radio titans of that era—taught me as much about debating politics as any class I ever took or book I ever read.
Rush had a talent for spinning stories. He delivered politics to the masses. He made conservative arguments through real-world examples that everybody could relate to. Sure, he was sometimes vile, as