When I heard Rush Limbaugh in the early 1990s, I didn’t really hear him. That is to say, I treated him as a buffoon, as a kind of comedian of the ridiculous. Because of this I didn’t critically evaluate his words. I didn’t consider there to be any need to.
Since Limbaugh (and maybe before), demagogues operate in much the same way. They speak outlandish, buffoonish rhetoric which appeals to a small base and turns everyone else off. Mussolini was the first politician in my awareness to capture this type of buffoonery.
There was no alarm from the left on Limbaugh for many years because noone on the left was listening to him. He had successfully created an audience of admirers, an audience free of critical response.
Limbaugh taught the American elite, as did Gingrich who had some of the same elements. Since then the elite (especially the far-right) have become more and more outlandish which aims to produce the same result – creating a kind of cult following and turn everyone else away from being critical. The entire far-right elite (and some others) wants the type of audience that Limbaugh produced.
So when George W. Bush embarrasses Americans, condescends to them, enrages them, the idea is to get Americans to stop criticizing him, to turn to apathy, to turn away. And then he can just speak to his cult following, adoring zombie smiles.
If the left likes intelligence, Bush will be dumb. If they like clarity, Bush will muddle and mangle the language. If they like truth, Bush will lie. If they like respect for women, Bush will grope female heads-of-state. If they like vegetarianism, Bush will talk about eating meat. If they like peace… well, you get the picture.
The ultimate far-right fantasy is a world of zero criticism. They don’t only want power, they want to never be reminded of that power. A kind of world of their perpetual power where there is zero recognition of such. A world where they are surrounded by sycophants and slaves and everyone else is either dead or rendered obsolete.
Look to Rush Limbaugh himself for a metaphor for that fantasy. Them talking without interruption, listeners smiling, fist-shaking, nodding their heads and thinking “Right on!” Everyone else utterly silent.