And see that is where your estimation fails. Rush doesn't tell anyone what or how to think. He merely expresses his opinion.
I think the latest version of Rush dictating to the Republican Party leadership has been very apparent - covered in all the news - they are made to understand he is the voice and they are to obey and not criticize or he will punish them.
Al Franken gave it a valiant effort and the left even had an entire Radio conglomerate. Anyone remember Air America? It failed because nobody listened. All they could do was bash Bush personally. Any kind of actual conversation turned into a Bush bash or it turned into a Bush bash.
Unfortunately for the left, there is no "base" membership that buys all their shit all the time if it is packaged as insulting, deriding, divisive hate talk about the other side. I guess that is unfortunate. On the other hand it seems to be one of the differences - if you don't like something you have to offer a reason other than it is "conservative" if you are to be convincing.
Left wing hate radio failed because there is no audience on the left for hate radio, even hate radio from their side. Personally I find that a problem with the right wing hate radio audience - that it exists, that is.
The conversations always were about the "facists" and the "bigots" and all the other names in the book. Again, my point about the extremists.
The terms facists and bigots were used on this board to describe facist activities and bigoted people in our government. You may think it is "extremist" language. Keep reading those Bush Administration memos on torture, the Bill of Rights, the interest in doing away with the First Amendment, etc. Then examine the activities that we have witnessed to restrict Black voters and the unfounded hatred of anyone that attempts to help them overcome those efforts to reduce their voice at the voting booth. Or the political campaign themes that tried to paint Obama as "uppity" and instill bigoted views of his church and its message. The shoe fits.
And not to put too fine a point on the subject, Rush Limbaugh has the highest average audience for a 3 hour show. Some 20 million listeners I think. Statistically that is a much larger percentage than can be passed off as extremists. In fact it is quite mainstream. So to dismiss Limbaugh as an extremist is to make the same mistake the media is making.
Rush Limbaugh appeals to the lowest common denominator of his audience. He is a proven liar and hypocrite. A convicted drug abuser. And he is not much of thinker - other than how to manipulate weak minds with the same tools Hitler used - unify people in hatred of other people.