Above is a sample of radio talk show host Mark Levin. He told a woman that he doesn’t know why her husband doesn’t put a gun to his head. Conor Friedersdorf heard this and commented:
That isn’t merely beneath a gentleman. It is the kind of thing that a decent man doesn’t say to a woman, under any circumstances. Awful as it is on the page, it came across even worse on the air, hearing the hateful, angry inflections. Forget the fact that this isn’t the way forward for the conservative movement — this just isn’t the way any person should behave.
A cretin who would say something like this on his radio show is a big deal among a lot of conservatives. Good grief. Having spent about 15 unpleasant minutes listening to this creep, I cannot imagine why anybody pays attention to him. Seriously, where is the pleasure in listening to this kind of trashmouth? If I were on the left, I would make sure that people thought that Mark Levin was the face of the Republican Party and the conservative movement.
Dan Riehl disagrees with Dreher, to put it mildly:
I’ll admit that some rather small bits of Mark’s humor haven’t always been my cup of tea over the years; though I find the comment above hilarious and know Mark, who I’ve been fortunate enough to meet, would apply it equally were a married liberal male caller serving as his foil on a particular call.
I’ve known many brilliant men. Mark is one. Amazingly, he is also gifted with the ability to entertain a large and growing audience, as witnessed by his ratings. And his and other radio talk shows are, after all, infotainment, in a very real sense. Post-Howard Stern, should society determine that anything Mark Levin has ever said on the air should be out of bounds? Really?
But given Mark’s long list of significant accomplishments Dreher seems to want to ignore, only some of which are listed above, and Mark’s well-known contributions to the conservative movement … I’m simply left asking myself, who is this fellow Rod Dreher? What is it, really, that he has done, accomplished, or contributed, which gives him license to take some few comments he, or others might not like, and dismiss Levin as just some virulent gasbag the Right should shun?
Joe, neither Dreher nor Frum is a professional talk-radio host, and I’m guessing neither one of them would last six months in the medium if they tried it.
People who’ve never done talk radio, or who’ve never been in a studio and seen how it’s done, have no idea how extraordinarily difficult it is to fill so much as a single hour, much less three hours a day five days a week. Now, consider how difficult it is to do it well, so as to attract a commercially viable nationwide audience. For Dreher (and his source) to disdain Levin is for them to sneer at someone who has succeeded exceptionally in a venue they’ve never even tried.
And what does the left think?
And this isn’t Levin’s first foray into crude sexism. When the military provided Nancy Pelosi with a jet for secure travel between California and Washington, D.C., Levin falsely claimed Pelosi demanded the plane because “she’s the first woman speaker. She wants a really, really big one. … And if she doesn’t get it, well then that’s sexual discrimination.” In fact, Pelosi is second in the line of succession to the presidency. A military escort is routine for any Speaker of the House.
I’m kind of hoping that he will wrestle control of the Republican party away from Rush Limbaugh because that would be awesome.
UPDATE: Clark Stooksbury in TAC
UPDATE #2: Joe Gandelman at The Moderate Voice.
UPDATE #3: Dickday at TPM has a post up that has gone all Dylan on the situation.
UPDATE #6: Freddie at The League responds to McCain and makes it personal funny. [Edited, as my use of "personal" was vague and misunderstood]:
[McCain, as quoted by Freddie and Conor] The upper echelons of American journalism have become the exclusive monopoly of former teacher’s pets, who as children were never sent to the principal’s office, who as teenagers were never suspended for showing up drunk for chemistry class, who as college students never woke up at 6:30 a.m. on the porch of the ATO house, who never played in a rock band or sold a pound of weed or dove from a 50-foot cliff into an abandoned rock quarry.
But not McCain! No! McCain chews diamonds and shoots pure lightening out of his urethra! McCain plays hockey against gorillas and once arm wrestled the Pope. I once saw McCain chug a keg of Milwaukee’s Best and then fill out a 1040 form. (Not even the EZ version!) McCain slings more dope in a morning than B.I.G. did his whole goddamn life, and somehow, for McCain, that’s, like, the most conservative shit ever. McCain’s American flag has a smaller American flag that flies from it, and he has a harem of Klingon women to give him sexual favors. McCain snorts Clorox and when he gets pulled over, he karate slaps the cop and gives him the ticket.
Dan Riehl has a post up by Mark Levin himself, responding to Dreher, Frum and Friedersdorf.
Every now and then I have to lower myself to deal with the undeveloped minds of kooks like Rod Dreher. I don’t know Dreher and as best I can tell, most nobody does. He has a column for a Dallas newspaper and created his own blog site, from where he writes love letters to himself and wonders why his brilliance is lost on the multitudes (while, of course, claiming to represent them and speak for them).
Rod learned of me, he says, from his friend Conor Friedersdorf. Honestly, who is Conor Friedersdorf? Well, after about 90 seconds of googling, I found out that Conor is (or was) a journalist and is (or was) a student and he blogs too. So, it appears that Rod and Connor are cyberspace pen pals of a sort.
And on Frum:
Now, if I might, on to David Frum. What does Frum have to do with any of this, you ask? David has never recovered from my drubbing him on my radio show, or should I say the drubbing he gave himself. He immediately went crying to Newsweek, MSNBC, various broadcast networks, etc., to complain about the low state of conservatism. If only the rest of us would embrace the “true reformers” (you know, in addition to Frum, David Brooks and Ross Douthat, among others), we would be so much the better. Dare I say if they were intellectually coherent and consistent, not to mention principled, it might be easier to understand them. But they are, with a few exceptions, ineffective lightweights who shoot spitballs at conservatives from the backbenches. This is precisely why the media promote them during their little hissy fits.
What makes Levin’s case a minor tragedy is he’s apparently an intelligent guy, but he’s made himself rich, famous and influential playing a clown for the masses. Maybe that’s what it takes these days. Damon Linker is certainly correct to observe that conservatives like me and the gang I hang out with are fringe figures compared to the Levins, who really do set the direction of organized conservatism, such as it is. As a conservative, it is depressing to me that there exists no meaningful, effective alternative to Levin, a miserable state of affairs that has come about because organized conservatism cares more about driving out heretics than actually winning converts. But that’s where we are today, and being on the wrong side of Mark Levin is a pretty good place to be, if you ask me.
The Damon Linker post, about the conservative movement as it stands today, is here.
UPDATE #9: Liberal snarksters Sadly, No
UPDATE #10: Friedersdorf’s response to Levin here.
UPDATE #11: Larison on the whole fracas.
UPDATE #12: Christoper Orr again does our job for us.
UPDATE #13: Andrew Sullivan
Dreher on Freddie on McCain
UPDATE #14: McCain on Dreher, again.
UPDATE #15: Frum notes Levin’s response
There’s something poignant in all this chest-thumping. You are left to wonder: Is it really Conor Friedersdorf with whom Mark Levin is arguing? Is there some part of him that maybe feels a little pang of embarrassment about his persona on the airwaves? Is that why he feels the need to reassure himself with self-flattery when called on an ugly remark: I have a big radio audience! Almost as big as Michael Savage’s! I must be a big man.
But the man in that interchange quoted by Conor is not a big man. He’s a loud man. It’s not the same thing.
David Frum was never much of a thinker. Try as he might, he just can’t seem to attract interest, let alone a following, even when stabbing his old boss, President George W. Bush, in the back with a rambling screed. Profiting from a confidential relationship with a president is about as low as it gets. But Frum, the ex-speech-writer turned self-hating blogger, isn’t done descending. Now he spends his lonely days and nights at his keyboard trying to settle personal scores and demonizing those who dare to dismiss his ramblings as the work of an emotional wreck.
UPDATE #15: James Poulos
Matthew Schmitz wonders if these fights aren’t doing Rush and Levin a favor.
E.D. Kain responds to Schmitz.
UPDATE #16: Erick Erickson at Redstate
UPDATE #20: David Frum on Levin’s book
UPDATE #21: Conor in the Atlantic on Levin’s show
UPDATE: #23: We’re going full on with the Prefab thing. Conor Friedersdorf in the Atlantic:
The prefab conservative, or prefab-con, brings the same attitude to political discourse: rather than using reason and critical thinking to craft arguments that fit the real world, he trots out prefabricated memes, arguments and conclusions that are passably functional at best. All too often, they are even worse: the typical prefabcon lives in an intellectual house of ugly, wobbly walls that collapse on themselves in slight gusts. Undaunted, he throws up another structure on the same spot, though that wolf named reality is standing right there, ready to huff and puff again.
The best example of prefab conservatism occurred during the 2008 presidential race, when prefabcon Kevin James went on Hardball with Chris Matthews to discuss whether Barack Obama’s campaign pledge to engage hostile countries in diplomacy amounted to appeasement.