Editor’s note: Following the death of Rush Limbaugh, we’re highlighting this column from December 2020.
I deeply admire Rush Limbaugh. Not because of his conservative viewpoints, and not because he’s a uniquely talented broadcaster who can make dropping a pencil interesting radio.
No. I have been most impressed over the years by Limbaugh’s strength of character, a crucial leadership attribute in woefully short supply at a time of failing institutions and callow public personalities.
Strength of character? Limbaugh?
Yes, Limbaugh. For those who may be unaware, in January, Limbaugh was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. After nearly a year of pursuing experimental treatments, he recently told his audience that his illness has entered a terminal stage. Yet, Limbaugh continues on with his show—if anything, with greater gusto than before he fell ill—only taking time off periodically during “treatment week.”
Limbaugh also hasn’t yielded to the emotional toll a terminal illness surely takes. He never complains publicly. He never feels sorry for himself. To the contrary, his persona—a mixture of faux hubris combined with a passion for conservative politics mediated by a great sense of humor—remains unchanged.
Indeed, if he hadn’t announced publicly that he’s ill, I doubt the audience would be able to tell the difference.
The only change I have noticed after listening to Limbaugh regularly since the early ’90s—and really, the only allusion he makes to the severe difficulties he is surely experiencing—has been a greater willingness to reveal his personal faith, something he rarely discussed previously.
Limbaugh says he believes in Jesus Christ and regularly tells his audience that upon awakening every morning, he thanks God that he’s still breathing. Healthy or ill, such thankfulness is a practice we would all be wise to emulate because you never know what each day will bring.
In his great public aplomb, Limbaugh reminds me of the late actor Michael Landon’s valor in the face of his 1991 terminal pancreatic cancer diagnosis. Landon was a hugely popular television star, having played “Little Joe” on “Bonanza,” “Pa,” on “Little House on the Prairie,” and an angel on “Highway to Heaven.”
When he became ill, rather than stay behind closed doors, as was usually done back in the day, he publicly announced his diagnosis on the Tonight Show—unprecedented back then—and in so doing, helped shatter the cruel stigma often faced in those days by terminal cancer patients…..
This article appeared at The Epoch Times on December 18, 2020 and was updated on February 17, 2021.