Many conservatives braced for the worst after talk radio icon Rush Limbaugh seemed to signal on his end-of-the-year program Wednesday that the program might have been his last Christmas show ever.
Some even speculated Wednesday’s show, which was incredible and moving, might have been the final time we heard from the man who has comforted us on the radio throughout the last three decades, nearly a year after he first announced he had been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer.
Thankfully, Limbaugh didn’t walk away at the top of his game. But he did evoke some emotions for many who listened.
— Jxn (@jxnfaster) December 23, 2020
In his opening monologue, Limbaugh praised President Donald Trump’s Tuesday evening speech, where the president signaled he wanted Congress to take another look at the latest COVID relief bill before he would sign such an atrocity. In a brief video message, Trump was clear he wanted a bill that would work for the American people.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 2020
“It was the kind of speech only an outsider could have made, and I really hoped that Trump would sit down and start ripping up the bill as Pelosi ripped up his speech,” Limbaugh said. “You know when she began to rip up his speech is when he began the presentation of the medal to me, seated next to his wife, the first lady Melania. And I turned my back to her, which is proper.”
In case you had forgotten, first lady Melania Trump presented Limbaugh with the Presidential Medal of Freedom award in February at the annual State of the Union address, during which Limbaugh was the president’s guest.
Limbaugh used his diagnosis, the first lady and his career to tie together a sentiment of gratitude in only a way the iconic host could. He invoked the memory of renowned baseball player Lou Gehrig, who played in 2,130 consecutive ball games before being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in 1939.
“[Melania] was the one who actually put the medal around my neck, and I thought it would have been great if Trump had ripped up that [COVID bill]. But he didn’t. And that’s understandable as well. But I remember saying to all of you at that time that I had a little bit of understanding of something that had perplexed me for a lot of my life, and that was Lou Gehrig,” Limbaugh said.
“Lou Gehrig, the Iron Horse, New York Yankees, set the record for consecutive games played until Cal Ripken came along decades later and broke it. And on the day that Lou Gehrig announced that he had his disease that was forcing him to retire from Major League Baseball, he said to the sold-out Yankee Stadium, ‘Today I feel like the luckiest man on the face of the earth,’” the host added.
“I didn’t understand that. I mean, here’s a guy who’d just been diagnosed with the most terminal of terminal diseases, and I said, ‘This can’t be real. He can’t really think he’s the luckiest guy in the world. This is just something that he’s saying because it will play well,’” Limbaugh said.
“I don’t mean to be insulting Lou Gehrig; don’t misunderstand. I’m just saying, how in the world if you’re being honest can you feel like you’re the luckiest man on the face of the earth?” he asked.
“Well, when I got my diagnosis and when I began to receive all of the outpouring of love and affection from everywhere in my life from so many of you in so many ways and from my family — who, man, they have supported me my entire career.”
“So many people have put me first in all of this, and I understand now what Lou Gehrig meant, ’cause I certainly feel like that. I feel extremely fortunate and lucky.”
Limbaugh was referring to Gehrig’s 1939 farewell speech in which he described himself as “the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”
Also on the program, Limbaugh talked about the cancer diagnosis, and how it has affected him today.
“Well, back in late January when I received this diagnosis — and I was shocked. I was stunned, and I was in denial for about a week,” he said. “I wasn’t expected to make it to October and then to November and then to December — and yet here I am. Today I’ve got some problems, but I’m feeling pretty good today. God’s with me today. God knows how important this program is to me today, and I’m feeling natural in terms of energy, normal in terms of energy, and I’m feeling entirely capable of doing it today.”
Limbaugh, while thankful and optimistic, broke some hearts.
He reminded us that his cancer is likely terminal. The man who helped to raise conservative Generation Xers, millennials and even today’s young conservatives reminded us life is precious. The host who guided older Americans through the Clinton and Obama administrations signaled he is nearing the end of his exceptional life and career.
“The day is going to come, folks, where I’m not going to be able to do this. I don’t know when that is. I want to be able to do it for as long as I want to do it. But the day will come where I’m not going to be able to,” Limbaugh said near the end of his show.
“I want you to understand that even when the day comes, I’d like to be here,” he added.
“I have this sense of needing to constantly show my appreciation for all that you have done and meant to me. So I hope you all have a great Christmas. A great new year. And I hope that the things that are in store for all of us in the coming year are certainly better than what we have endured in 2020.”
— Mark Davis (@MarkDavis) December 24, 2020
“2021 has to be better,” he said. “Again, folks, thank you so much. I wish there were a way to say it other than thank you. You’re just the best. My family is just the best. Thank you. Merry Christmas, everybody. From all of us to all of you.”
Limbaugh signed off on a Wednesday near the end of one of the most challenging years in modern American history. With God’s grace, we’ll catch up with him in January and for a long time after that.
If God calls Limbaugh home between now and then — or any time after — we will know it was because it was part of his plan, and not ours. But just maybe we can ring in a new year with Rush Limbaugh still standing in our corner, and maybe another after that. Wouldn’t that be nice?
In an era when so much has been made of the word privilege, it certainly has been both an honor and a privilege to have had Rush for all these years. What an icon.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.