In 1993, National Review’s cover story by James Bowman called Rush Limbaugh “The Leader of the Opposition.”
Like today, conservatives were then frozen out of power. Newt Gingrich wasn’t the House GOP leader yet, and Bob Dole was never a real Man of the Right.
It was a sign of future political currents that we now see more clearly with the rise of Trumpism that the role of chief opponent of Bill and Hillary Clinton’s left-wing policies back then would be a college dropout from Cape Girardeau, Mo. But the abolition of the Fairness Doctrine and the falling prices of satellite broadcasting ushered in by Ronald Reagan’s free-market policies made Rush Limbaugh possible.
Rush was a unique talent. He started his national radio show in July of 1988, just as Ronald Reagan was preparing to leave the national stage. By the time National Review put him on its cover, he was on 616 radio stations with a three-hour daily show that reached 20 million people a week. The success of his best-selling book The Way Things Ought To Be, which I was privileged to be the collaborator on, practically ushered in an era of mass marketing of conservatives in book publishing.