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The article below provides an excellent analysis or Rush Limbaugh - and why he was so successful.
Here's a few key paragraphs:
Why was Limbaugh successful where Coughlin and McCarthy had failed? In part, because his rise in shock jock radio coincided largely with the rise of the religious right in politics. In this great free country of ours, people can believe and worship as they wish. But bringing millions of voters who think dinosaurs walked the earth a few thousand years ago (until they failed to get a ticket on Noah's Ark and were wiped out by the great flood) into the political mainstream introduced a capacity for credulity without which it is hard to imagine Trump getting away with his lies about building a border wall and making Mexico pay for it. Or Sen. Mitch McConnell's backflip on confirming Supreme Court justices in an election year. Or the Texas Republican lies about the loss of power in their state being the result of windmills freezing.
Newt Gingrich, who led the Republican takeover of the House in 1994, acknowledged the party's debt to Limbaugh, naming him an honorary member of the caucus and inviting him to address the new GOP majority. As historian Heather Cox Richardson explained in one of her Letters from an American:
Limbaugh told them that, under House Speaker Newt Gingrich, the Republicans must "begin an emergency dismantling of the welfare system, which is shredding the social fabric," bankrupting the country, and "gutting the work ethic, educational performance, and moral discipline of the poor." Next, Congress should cut capital gains taxes, which would drive economic growth, create hundreds of thousands of jobs, and generate billions in federal revenue.