Already old news, but El Rushbo has been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer, which will likely kill him, as advanced lung cancer tends to do. He said he complained of shortness of breath in early January. It also looks like he has lost a lot of weight. Rush was like the the original shit poster, becoming the anathema of the left whose loathsomeness was unsurpassed until Trump came along in 2015. This diagnosis came as surprise to me because Rush was never a heavy smoker. Although a cigar connoisseur, by his own insistence he never inhaled them. Contrary to some reports, he was not a lifelong smoker. However, he did smoke as a young adult from 1965 to 1980. So in spite quitting he had already signed his death warrant. The risk of risk of lung cancer never goes away after quitting, even if lung functionality is otherwise completely restored and having not smoked for many decades. The high incidence of lung cancer in former-smokers, who get cancer sometimes up to 30 years or longer after quitting, is evidence that smoking is possibly more dangerous than commonly believed. The assumption is, if you quit, you can eliminate or at least attenuate the health effects of smoking, which is true to a large degree, but the risk of the most feared and deadliest consequence of smoking, lung cancer, does not go down.
Whether it’s fears over pandemics or terrorism, the media tends to overreact about the dangers of things, but smoking is one of the few exceptions, that in spite of over half a century of anti-smoking campaigns and research, many of the risks are are still unknown and are still being discovered (such as long-term lung cancer risk in former smokers, similar to long-term cancer risk of asbestos exposure). Another discovery and making matters worse, is that dosage vs. risk is not linear, meaning that going from 10 cigarettes a day to 2 packs a day does not boost lung cancer risk much, so people who think they are light smokers and reducing their risk by only smoking a little, are not (except only very little).
But back to Rush, of course, the left brings up his drug addiction and arrest, but everyone is a hypocrite to some degree. The social-justice left creates this unobtainable idealization of virtue, whereas conservatives understand that people are flawed each in their own ways, and I think it speaks to the human capacity for goodness that his listeners were able to forgive and overlook these transgressions. An also, it’s not like Rush held himself as some sort of exemplar of morality. And given all the church, priest, and pastor scandals in recent years, it’t not like those who profess such morality in public and to their followers are any better in private either. But disappointingly, Rush went from being against the establishment to being a tool for it. Like McCain, he was hawkish interventionist, unfailingly supporting the Iraq war long after things began to do downhill. At best, he is like a more uninhibited version of Ben Shapiro or Denis Pager, and ‘dissident’ in so far as opposing the left than opposing mainstream conservative policy.
But the biggest problem is, like Thomas Sowell and other old guards of the ’90s culture wars, he became irrelevant. Discourse and tastes changed, but he didn’t, and rather than adapting to the times, he and his fans remained in a groundhog day-like universe stuck between 1995-2000, when Newt was duking it out with Clinton, and the utterance of Al Gore inventing the internet was somehow funny. Like anyone who follows politics, I of course knew about Rush Limbaugh, but until this cancer story broke, there was scarcely any mention of him online, even by other conservatives and on political sites, such as on Reddit or on blogs. Occasionally , a clip of his show would surface on r/r/TheDonald, where it would garner a handful of votes and no comments. It was as if this hugely popular and influential radio host, for all intents and purposes, didn’t exist. Consider, for example, the official Jordan Peterson sub, which has 192,000 members, and by comparison, the official Rush Limbaugh sub has just..780. It is so obscure, that it was hard to find in Google, buried somewhere on page 5 when one tries to search for “Reddit+Rush Limbaugh”. Jordan Peterson was introducing young people to philosophy, psychology, and the relationship between liberalism, Marxism, and postmodernism; Rush was still going on about the ‘drive-by media,’ long after anyone but his listeners stopped caring.