"One presidential mention has exposed to public scrutiny something that only political insiders have known for a long time. Limbaugh is the emotional leader of the GOP. We – we Beltway intellectual types – have talked up figures who give conservatism a face that is, to one degree or another, respectable. It's David Brooks, or it was Irving Kristol, or Norman Podhoretz, or Leo Strauss.
We have done this because, well, because at various points it may have been sort of true. But we also did it because we want to think that we've been engaged in a war of ideas conducted on a high intellectual plane.
That notion, unfortunately, is fatuous."
He's not just a propagandist-- he is emotionally in line with the Republican base. Resentment, ridicule, hatred, and bigotry (especially against blacks and women) are his prime tools, and they really are the emotional heart of Republicanism.
The fact that he's an oxycontin junkie and thrice-divorced are somehow not relevant.