TODD: It was today, March 30, 1981, President Reagan was shot and wounded by John Hinckley. I shouldn’t say his name. By this guy in D.C., this person who tried to matter to the world. My wife and I watched the funeral of Ronald Reagan. That I remember when Reagan was shot, he had this great line going into the hospital, legendary line.
He said to the surgeon, “I hope you’re a Republican,” and the surgeon said… Because it was a different era, the surgeon said, “Sir, today we’re all Republicans.” And then President Reagan chose to go to the window and wave with his hair done up perfectly, because that’s who he was. He wanted the country to feel okay, because he was a leader.
He was also an intellectual giant. People who want to pretend, as the media does, that he was not? You can belie that by simply reading President Reagan’s notes, letters he wrote to people. My wife and I watched his funeral. I had to leave work. I couldn’t work. He was the president of my lifetime. My wife and I wept on the couch. We watched Nancy Reagan touch his casket at the Reagan Library.
I also remember, realizing that Rush Limbaugh was the intellectual bridge. Reagan was an intellectual; Rush was intellectual. And Reagan was the president of my lifetime and a father figure, and Rush was a father. Rush loved Ronald Reagan. He spoke of Ronald Reagan’s brilliant embrace of the right to self-defense at the 1983 NRA convention.
RUSH: Here is Reagan in 1983. The NRA convention that year was in Phoenix.
REAGAN: I’m delighted to be with all of you. It does my spirit good to be with people who never lose faith in America, who never stop believing in her future, and who never back down one inch from defending the constitutional freedoms that are every American’s birthright.
REAGAN: It’s a nasty through it, but those who seek to inflict harm are not fazed by gun control laws. I happen to know this from personal experience.
CROWD: (rippling laughter and applause)
REAGAN: You know, I’ve always felt a special bond with the members of your group. You live by Lincoln’s words: “Important principles may and must be inflexible.” Your philosophy put its trust in people, so you insist individuals be held responsible for their actions.
RUSH: Right on. The applause throughout Reagan’s speech to the NRA in 1983 was never ending. Here’s an example of that, our final bite.
REAGAN: The NRA believes that America’s laws were made to be obeyed and that our constitutional liberties are just as important today as 200 years ago. And, by the way, the Constitution does not say that government “shall decree the right to keep and bear arms.” The Constitution says, “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
RUSH: It went on and on and on, and Reagan just owned the event.
TODD: Little glimpse into tomorrow’s Rush Limbaugh program. We’ll come back. Todd Herman, your guide host this week on the EIB Network.