The real secret of Rush Limbaugh’s success

For many years I thought this excerpt from Alexander Pope's "An Essay on Criticism" (circa 1705–1711) summed up the allure of Rush Limbaugh's radio show to millions of people.

True Wit is Nature to Advantage drest, / What oft was Thought, but ne'er so well Exprest, / Something, whose Truth convinc'd at Sight we find, / That gives us back the Image of our Mind.

Fast-forward about three hundred years, and I believe that Mr. Pope would agree that the spoken word of talk radio could easily fit into the genre of poetry, especially if he were to listen to the "All-Knowing, All-Sensing, All-Everything Maha Rushie."

It would be interesting to hear Mr. Pope's critique of Rush, but given Rush's keen wit, I'd bet he'd get two thumbs up.

I was actually preparing to expound on how amazingly well this excerpt from Pope's essay epitomizes Rush's spoken words; however, my research led me to an excellent, or shall I say "so well expressed," explanation by an educator named D. Reynolds (Certified Educator):

Pope says here that "true wit," by which he means a wise, intelligent, and incisive statement or turn of phrase, reflects a truth that already exists in nature but dresses it up or highlights it for people. True wit is not saying anything new or inventing anything new, but unearthing what already exists and making it clearer to people. It brings to clearer consciousness "what oft was Thought," in other words, what was already hovering in a cloudy way in people's minds.

However, before a person put the right words around a preexisting truth, that truth was somewhat inchoate (chaotic) or half-formed in people's minds. So, people thought it but couldn't express it well: it was "ne'er [never] so well Exprest [expressed]." But once the right words describe the truth in question, we intuitively know it to be true: that is the meaning of "Whose truth convinced at Sight we find." (We are convinced of the truth at the sight [or speaking] of the words that describe it well.) These words give us "back the Image of our mind." In other words, the words express what we already think, even if we never had words for the thought.

This is an important verse because it expresses a key Enlightenment belief in a nutshell. The Enlightenment thinkers believed objective truth could be found and that language was a vehicle to make that truth clear. The right language, the perfect words, what never was so well expressed before, became a clear windowpane revealing truth to people.

Pope here celebrates the person who uses language in a way that illuminates truth.

In my humble opinion, there has never been someone more adept with the wit to illuminate the truth, that we all somehow knew but couldn't put into words, than "America's Truth Detector" — Rush Hudson Limbaugh III.

Rush, we celebrate your life, your honesty and sincerity, your profound influence, your love of God, family, country, and fellow man. 

RIP, "America's Anchorman."

Image via Flickr, Public Domain.