We’ve seen the clips, El Rushbo looking old and bristly, fist-bumping his chest in appreciation as he received the Medal of Freedom in the gallery at last week’s State of the Union. The fact the medal was immediately hung around the talk show host’s neck by the First Lady seconds after President Trump’s announcement spoke to his unfortunate diagnosis of stage 4 lung cancer. In other words, the honor had to be conferred at top speed.
By all means, give Rush a medal. He’s earned it and then some. The mainstream broadcast voice of conservatism now for 30 years, ushered in a golden age of conservative talk, harnessing this once-overlooked terrestrial outlet into an influential powerhouse of political persuasion years before the Internet connectivity boom siphoned a huge part of that radio talk’s audience away.
One of those conservative voices that benefited from the inroads of Rush Limbaugh was the acerbic and wildly diverse radio stylings of Bronx born-and-bred Michael Savage. Upon first exposure to his show over 20 years ago now, I remember wondering WTF have I just run across here? The peripatetic monologue, delivered in a heavy New York brogue, was intriguing for its edgy subject matter and confusing pastiche of braggadocio and sarcasm.
At first not knowing what was sincere and what wasn’t, I kept tuning in. After a while, you found out that his sarcasm was sincere, in that it was meant to show the lunacy of the left’s up-front and in-your-face communist agenda and the massive mobs of insane Red Diaper Doper Babies that were legion enough to make it viable. Tying his nationalist vision together with wildly divergent threads the talented Mr. Savage was the best of both worlds with his ability to instruct whilst keeping you wildly entertained. Whether telling personal stories from his days collecting plants in the Fiji Islands; riffing monologues on a background of John Coltrane’s wailing jittery saxophone; or creating pre-produced set pieces that skewered the progressive’s policies course of societal ruination, taking them all the way to their logical conclusion in one memorable broadcast where a character named Jessie Jacksclone takes racebaiting to the replicant-DNA level as he shakes down a fictional corporation with a massive protest loudly proclaiming “Clones are People, too!”
The creativity with which Savage orchestrated his show as he soared the airwaves set it so far apart from the usual set format of analyzing the so-called ‘news’ stories of the day that it was something unique and wonderful to behold. He was so far ahead of the curve on some current day current events that his old predictions harmonize with the ring of prophecy to Savage listeners-in-the-know. I recall vividly his disdain for the New York Times way back before the term ‘fake news’ was a thing, calling it the American Pravda. I also recall him coining the term ‘Islamo-fascist’ before it got co-opted. His format was heavy on anti-immigration rants before such anti-establishment “hate-speech” was thought allowable in ones own thoughts let alone broadcast loud and clear over the open airwaves! Hearing it was at once liberating and shocking. Didn’t he know that some things were just too dangerous to say? But let me direct you to the best summation of this Savage commentator to date, and one I could not hope to equal. Kelefa Sanneh’s New Yorker profile of said radio “shock jock” PARTY OF ONE: Michael Savage, unexpurgated.
The small point that I would like to make is (being a listener for going on 20 years of the magnificent Michael Savage, who has now been relegated to odd times and shrunk to an hour of air time per day, down from a high of 3 hours many moons ago in this top-down manipulation of an unjust world) that the real heroes of major paradigm shifts and ideological revolutions are treated like lepers and marginalized to such an extent that their influence is shrouded by the closed lid of the dustbin of history. And so let this be one weak but confident voice crying out in the wilderness that sets the the truth free. Savage was backing Trump before Trump was even a blip on Rush Limbaugh’s radar screen, and was still backing him when Rush Limbaugh was poo-pooing the idea of Trump as viable Republican solution.
Donald Trump was interviewed on Savage’s show in 2011 and afterward Savage proclaimed that he had “found a President.” Savage’s longstanding motto of Borders, Language, Culture directly correlates to Trump’s America First agenda. Owing to this early interview and the near-perfect reflection of Savage’s BLC motto to Trump’s MAGA, one might infer that Trump cribbed his winning strategy directly from Savage’s nightly show. I certainly believe it, having witnessed the similarities between the two’s ideas on national policy in real time, believing the evidence points to the fact that their verisimilitude could not just be coincidental.
Sadly, as acknowledged by himself on several occasions, Savage was too short, too old, too reviled, and too Jewish (in other words too politically leprous) to ever hope to successfully run for the office of the President. Happily, he found a vessel for his particular national conservative agenda in Donald Trump. To President Trump’s credit, he has not done the politically expedient thing and dumped Michael Savage, having had him for a one-on-one in the oval office and a junket on Air Force One to name but two, the veritable minister-without-portfolio Savage has been given just desserts and a cherry on top. Far from being deserted, his rewards have been low key enough to go largely unreported and disregarded, much as his own show has been diminished through dirty tricks and listener attrition throughout the years. Though few will ever know it, let it here be known: Without Savage, the seeds of MAGA would have never been sown.