Rush Limbaugh was a radio and cultural icon — a man who could take on the left with half his brain tied behind his back just to make it fair. He belongs to the ages now; Limbaugh died at the age of 70 on Ash Wednesday from Stage IV lung cancer.
Now, the state of Florida is honoring him by flying its flags at half-staff to commemorate the funeral of the Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient.
“I know they’re still figuring out the arrangements but what we do when there’s things of this magnitude, once the date of interment for Rush is announced, we’re going to be lowering the flags to half-staff,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, said at a news briefing, according to WKMG-TV.
While Limbaugh was long associated with New York City, he moved his operation to Florida 10 years ago, according to American Greatness. There, he broadcast from what he called his “Southern Command” in Palm Beach.
In a statement released shortly after Limbaugh’s passing, DeSantis said, “Rush busted through a media landscape in which a handful of media outlets served up pre-cooked, liberal narratives. By providing a fresh, conservative perspective, Rush attracted millions of listeners and paved the way for the proliferation of conservative media. Rush was no flash in the pan — he was the dominant force in radio for decades.
“Rush is the GOAT — of radio, of conservative media and of inspiring a loyal army of American patriots.”
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) February 17, 2021
Also speaking at the news briefing was James Golden — better known to Rush listeners as Bo Snerdley, Limbaugh’s producer.
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“Rush is like a second-generation founding father,” Golden said at the media briefing, American Greatness reported. “The seeds that he planted are going to sprout in America and continue to grow for generations, and generations to come.”
Limbaugh, he said, “was one of the most incredible human beings I ever met.
“It goes beyond what he did for the media—he transformed it — it goes beyond what he did for the country — in so many ways he helped transform that too — it goes to the greatness of his soul,” Golden continued. “What a wonderful, decent human being he was … who genuinely loved the people of this country, and wanted to see the people of this country prosper — as is our birthright.”
Lowering the flags was a move originally suggested on Twitter by Republican Florida state Rep. Anthony Sabatini.
“Rush was a relentless champion of America and of civic engagement. May his memory live on forever,” Sabatini wrote in a Twitter post.
Today I sent a letter to Governor DeSantis requesting the lowering of Florida’s flags to half-staff in honor of the passing of a great Floridian—Rush Limbaugh.
Rush was a relentless champion of America and of civic engagement. May his memory live on forever. pic.twitter.com/5vXHbo9mDz
— Rep. Anthony Sabatini (@AnthonySabatini) February 17, 2021
The flag-lowering will be dependent on the date of Rush’s internment, which hasn’t been announced yet — so that gives politicians plenty of time to argue about it.
According to WPTV-TV, several in the Palm Beach area have asked whether DeSantis’ order is legal.
Jane Bolin, mayor of the Fort Lauderdale suburb of Oakland Park, said she’s concerned the move doesn’t jibe with the U.S. Flag Code.
“I’m trying not to make this a political issue, and I know I’ve already gotten a ton of emails,” she told WPTV. “It just crosses the line a bit, and I wouldn’t want to see this on either side.”
Thankfully, WPTV did the work for her and found Florida law stipulates the state “shall adopt a protocol on flag display” which allows the flag to be lowered to half-staff “upon the death of high-ranking state officials, uniformed law enforcement and fire service personnel, and prominent citizens.”
Whether or not liberals like it, Limbaugh was prominent.
More to the point, there was Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a Democrat, who is telling all of the offices under her department’s control they weren’t to lower the flag.
“Lowering to half-staff the flag of the United States of America is a sacred honor that pays respect to fallen heroes and patriots. It is not a partisan political tool. Therefore, I will notify all state offices under my direction to disregard the Governor’s forthcoming order to lower flags for Mr. Limbaugh — because we will not celebrate hate speech, bigotry, and division,” she said, according to WESH-TV.
“Lowering the flag should always reflect unity, not division, and raising our standards, not lowering them. Our flags will remain flying high to celebrate the American values of diversity, inclusion, and respect for all.”
Hearing this invective, I was reminded of a quote from a piece I’ve gone back to often when writing about Limbaugh, Zev Chafets’ 2008 profile of Rush for The New York Times. In the piece, Chafets quotes Jay Nordlinger, then as now a senior editor at National Review.
“I hired a lot of people over the years, fancy kids from elite schools,” Nordlinger said, “and I always asked, ‘How did you become a conservative?’ Many of them said, ‘Listening to Rush Limbaugh.’ And often they’d add, ‘Behind my parents’ back.’”
I’m not a fancy kid, nor did I go to an elite school, but that’s how I became a conservative, too — listening to Limbaugh, very much behind my parents’ back. They thought he celebrated “hate speech, bigotry, and division.” I listened in and found someone entirely different. He wasn’t a bigot or a demagogue. A provocateur, maybe, but a provocateur with a point. He was a man of wit and warmth, a man who could hold a conversation for the better part of an hour and work through knotty policy issues step-by-step.
It was never a scream-fest. He relied on inventiveness, not invective. He was, in short, sui generis. Bravo to Gov. DeSantis — and hopefully, this is the first of many honors to come.
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