When California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called talk show host Rush Limbaugh “irrelevant” in comments made during a recent appearance on the Today Show, Limbaugh brushed it off.
Schwarzenegger was asked if he was concerned that Limbaugh disapproved of his move to left on such issues as stem-cell research, global warming, and universal health care.
“All irrelevant…Rush Limbaugh is irrelevant.” Schwarzenegger said. “I am not his servant,”
The controversy eased when the Republican Governor and the conservative talk show host agreed to smoke a stogie and let bygones by bygones.
However, the question remains an operative one. Is Rush Limbaugh irrelevant?
Don’t get us wrong. Limbaugh is still the number one talk radio host, reaching over 13 million radio listeners each week, according to Talkers Magazine, and his daily show is carried on over 600 stations.
Limbaugh is millionaire many times over. He joked that he could have bought Air America Radio with his pocket change. (Bankrupt AAR was recently sold for only $4.75 million.) He had enough money to pay his high priced legal team, which helped him beat charges of illegal drug purchases, and he can still buy all the Viagra he needs for his sex romps in the Dominican Republic.
However, it is clear that his standing in the conservative movement has declined significantly since 1994 when he was named “honorary member of the U.S. House of Representative” after the Republicans took control of the Congress ending forty years of Democratic Party dominance.
Limbaugh was on top of the emerging conservative talk radio machine. He didn’t have to share the limelight with other talkers like Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck. He was the only game in town and he was on the top of his game.
However, in the dozen years since Limbaugh’s glory days as a key figure in the so-called “Republican Revolution”, we have seen a steady decline in the both the statuses of Republican Party and of Limbaugh’s position as an important media figure.
We all know what has happened to the Republicans. After over a decade in power, the GOP lost control of both houses of Congress in an historic election defeat brought on by scandals, record deficits, and an unpopular President leading an equally unpopular war.
What is less well known is what happened to Limbaugh. After the Republican defeat, he told his listeners that he “was no longer going to carry the water for the Republican Party.” Maybe it should have been the other way around. The Republican Party might have said “we are no longer going to allow Rush Limbaugh to carry our water”.
The opinionated talk host is probably responsible for delivering the Senate to the Democrats. In the final days of the 2006 election campaign, Limbaugh immersed himself in a very tight Missouri Senatorial campaign by accusing popular actor and Parkinson Disease victim, Michael J. Fox, a supporter of Democratic Party candidate Claire McCaskill, of faking his symptoms.
The polls showed McCaskill losing the election in the final days, however, after Limbaugh’s idiotic charge against Fox, McCaskill won the election and the Democrats took over the Senate by one seat.
Limbaugh's loss of standing with Republicans is not his only problem.
Since his triumph in 1994, El Rushbo has seen his audience decline by about 35%. In addition, despite his favorable scheduling on the top talk radio stations in the country (usually 50,000-watt flame-throwers) often preceded by strong local talk shows:
The only question is not whether Limbaugh is “irrelevant” but rather why is he hanging around talk radio when he is persona non grata in the Republican Party and losing listeners at the same rate that Air America Radio is losing stations?