I’ve just finished the new book on Rush Limbaugh called An Army of One, by Zev Chafets, an interesting and even entertaining read about one of the most influential figures in the modern era. The biography is not authorized, in the sense that the subject essentially approves everything in the book, but the author got unprecedented access to Rush and his inner circle.
As a blogger, I was given the book to read and review. I feel compelled to say that because I am not a dittohead; and I feel compelled to write about the book because that seems like part of the contract when you agree to receive a free book.
Indeed, I recommend that Rush’s fans, of which there are many millions, get a copy and read this fascinating tale of a talented but ordinary man who has remained true to his political principles and has withstood terrible attacks directed at him because he has been so effective in championing an uncompromising conservatism.
Although I no longer listen to Rush on a daily basis, when I do I find that I agree heartily with him about 80 percent of the time; when he camps on the 20 percent—which includes what I see as blind opposition to caring for the environment—I do find him frustrating and even maddening.
Rush Limbaugh is an extraordinarily entertaining radio personality who cannot be dismissed as an entertainer because he has so mastered his craft that his communication of conservative principles has become amazingly effective.
Limbaugh’s is not a “rags to riches” story; he is the son of an attorney and part of a powerful family in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. But his upbringing in “flyover country,” and his rise in media although he was not part of the East coast, liberal elite make his unparalleled radio success all the more remarkable.
One interesting part of the book is a list of what Rush sees as the Undeniable Truths about a successful America, the marks of Americanism. These include:
- The world is governed by the aggressive use of force. American security and prosperity rest on its unquestioned military superiority and the will to use it.
- There is a God who has endowed humans with freedom and moral precepts. Morality is not a matter of individual choice and it is not relative; it is absolute and found in the tenants of the Judeo-Christian tradition.
- America is an exceptional nation because of its Constitution.
- America is a unique force for good in the world and an example to the rest of mankind.
- There is a distinct American culture based on individualism, self-reliance, capitalism, and a common language. Immigrants should accept and embrace this culture.
- Economic prosperity flows from free markets, low taxes, and a minimum of government regulation.
- When the virtues of equality and freedom clash, generally speaking, the latter trumps the former.
- Freedom of speech is absolute.
Are these the reasons that America is a shining city upon a hill? What do you think?
As I see the enormous influence of Rush Limbaugh, I am most concerned about the tendency of Christian conservatives to be undiscerning of Rush’s teaching on ethics and moral engagement, for he is—in my opinion—far from being a humble and yielded ear to God’s Word and conviction. As a result, he has brought much trouble on himself, and if he successfully evades the hound of heaven, it will of course be to his great sorrow. But the larger danger is that Christians will find his arguments on political matters so convincing that they do not hold them up to the measure of Scripture.
I completed this book at the same time I heard Kevin Queen at our fine church, 12 Stone, speak on the need for collaboration in “doing things for a great God.” The example he cited was Joshua, who although known as a great leader of the people of Israel is not listed in the faith chapter, Hebrews 11. Instead, the people he led are cited for their faith in destroying Jericho. That is a great lesson for all of us, including Rush Limbaugh. If the dangers of ungodly liberalism can be seen as Jericho—standing in the ways of God, which I do agree can be the case—it will not take An Army of One, but an army of the faithful to defeat the forces of ill. Rush’s singular and individualistic path to success and war plan are perhaps the greatest vulnerability of the lone ranger on the right.