Archive for ‘Mark Levin’

July 28, 2009

America Agrees: Best. Book. Evah!

Professor Glenn Reynolds:

Not long ago, people were saying that right-leaning books didn’t sell. Now reader Gordy Dalman writes: “Michelle Malkin’s Culture of Corruption is now #1 on Amazon. It’s good to see both Glenn Beck and Mark Levin in the Top 10 as well.”

OK, so even if those other guys didn’t give me a shout-out (see p. 291 of the Best. Book. Evah!) you should still go ahead and buy all three.

July 20, 2009

Mark Levin vs. Weekly StandardBozo Who Needs to STFU

(Note to self: Never argue with this guy.)

In the first sentence of his review [Bozo] asserts “Moderation … is an essential political virtue and a quintessentially conservative virtue.” This is the way forward for conservatism, he insists. At no time does he define “moderation” or any governing principles, other than to misapply moderation as prudence, when prudence is, in fact, about judgment. . . .
For the neo-Statist (or neo-Conservative), the problem is particularly acute when applied to international relations for he usually promotes a hawkish and interventionist foreign policy. If prudence is moderation per se, then how does [Bozo] square this circle? Is bombing Iran’s nuclear sites, even as a last resort, a moderate or an immoderate act? Obviously, the question makes no sense. The test is whether it is prudent.
Thus, those, like [Bozo], who promote moderation (not prudence) as a principle, are actually promoting a tactic or process without any core.

Read the whole thing. Try not to slip on Bozo’s entrails that Levin leaves scattered on the floor.

Note that Levin distinguishes himself from the neo-conservatives. One of the idiotic misfortunes of the Bush era was that the Left picked up the term “neocon” as shorthand for “Jewish hawk,” with conspiratorial overtones of “stooge for the Zionist lobby.” This was both unfair and inaccurate.

As my old friends know, I tend to roll more toward the paleo side of the neo/paleo divide, with a wide streak of libertarianism (“From My Cold Dead Hands!”) and am also a hillbilly Bible-thumping Calvinist, if not a theocrat.

My position on the Iraq war was nuanced, as the liberals would say. Unlike Kerry, I was against the war before I was for it. Basically, from 2002 until the war started, I was very skeptical toward arguments for the invasion and conquest of Mesopotamia. However, the time for arguing ended when the first shot was fired. My attititude about war is, “If you’re in it, win it.”

No nation ever benefitted from losing a war. Military defeat tends to demoralize a nation and, if repeated, can result in absolute decadence. (Cf. France.)

A Peace Through Strength approach to foreign affairs doesn’t make you a warmonger, an imperialist, or a “neocon.” I could write a book about this, but I’m on deadline for the Spectator, so just read Mark Levin’s article — and remind me never to pick a fight with him.

May 27, 2009

Oh, this is good!

David Frum is Moe Green and Mark Levin is Michael Corleone, and it’s time to settle old scores:

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.
Go read every blood-drenched word. See why I like Levin? He is perfectly happy to spend his days going after Democrats and ignore the occasional insult. But if you ever really piss him off . . .

(Via Protein Wisdom.) Go read the whole thing, but check back here in an hour or so, because I’ll have an update I think you’ll want to read.

UPDATE: Believe it or not, I consider David Frum a friend. He did me a favor once when I needed it, and I try not to forget a favor.

Nothing hurts me worse than to see two friends at daggers drawn, as with Frum and Levin, but Levin is clearly the injured party here. As I sometimes say when somebody gets cross-ways with me, “Buddy, you done pissed off the wrong redneck.”

Frum wrote a truly excellent book about the 1970s, How We Got Here, and his wife, Danielle Crittenden, wrote a truly excellent book about feminism, What Our Mothers Never Told Us. I do not hesitate to recommend either book, even if you don’t like David Frum.

So, what happened to Frum? He made the mistake of joining the Bush speechwriting team without thinking of what he was getting himself into. As Matthew Scully has explained, Bush made the mistake of assigning his speechwriting shop to Michael Gerson, a worthless, self-serving, two-faced, second-rate scoundrel.

There is something about working for a mediocrity like Gerson that injures a man’s pride, which is why it is always dangerous to entrust managerial or supervisory duties to mediocrities. Gerson was a disloyal glory hog who was always leaking to the press. The rest of the speechwriting staff knew who was doing the leaking, they resented the hell out of it, and it destroyed morale.

That kind of stuff happens all the time in D.C.. When I showed up for my first day of work at The Washington Times in November 1997, I got talking to a guy named Michael Rust, a brilliant writer who died a few years ago of diabetes. Michael said, “Welcome to Washington, a town where people advance” — and here he made a motion with his hands, as if climbing a ladder — “on the knives stuck in the backs of their former friends.”

Ah, would that I had heeded Michael’s warning more closely! It was not until about 2006 that I began to understand what he meant. The specifics are irrelevant here, but the lesson that you must understand is that most feuds like this in Washington are not really about ideology, they’re about ambition.

There is another excellent book you should read by — surprise! — David Brooks. Bobos in Paradise (2000) includes a chapter describing the means by which political intellectuals ascend the ranks of the punditocracy. It’s a shrewd and devastatingly accurate analysis of how things work inside the Beltway, and the insightful reader realizes that Brooks followed his own cunning advice. (“Brooks, you brilliant bastard! I read your book!”)

When I write about The Republicans Who Really Matter, I’m trying to explain how ambition accounts for the bizarre peregrinations of so many “conservative” operatives in Washington. It isn’t that they don’t have principles or that they don’t have any core beliefs. Rather, it is that they stay in the game long enough to see how the game is played by the “winners” — e.g. , David Gergen — and decide to start playing that same game.

This is why I so admire Robert Novak. An excellent reporter who was originally a liberal Republican, Novak followed the facts wherever they led him — which is why he became a conservative. But if a Republican was doing the wrong thing, he always had to worry about Novak, because Novak was fearless and independent, and he would blow the whistle in a heartbeat if he found out someone was running a scam.

In his ill-advised article “Unpatriotic Conservatives,” Frum unjustly attacked Novak, and Rich Lowry should have been fired immediately for having had the bad taste to publish such a thing on the cover of National Review. (What did Ann Coulter call Lowry, a “girly man”?)

I’ve got friends on both sides of the paleoconservative/neoconservative divide. My paleo friends are laughing their asses off to see Levin and Frum going at one another. And half my family is Democrats, so you can imagine how they’re enjoying this internecine Republican bloodletting.

It’s just like when Charles Johnson goes after Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? Who assigned Charles as the Torquemada to lead the Blogospheric Inquisition? In any large collaborative enterprise, these kinds of feuds and schisms are to be expected, but sooner or later somebody has got to say, “Hey, knock it off with this Urge to Purge power trip.” I’ve got no personal beef with Charles, but at the point he accused Geller of being a pawn of Euro-fascism, he jumped the shark.

Same thing with Frum or Dreher or anyone else who wants to arrogate to themselves the right to say who is or is not a legitimate conservative spokesman. Like Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin and Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin has earned what he’s got by honest toil.

Levin’s independence is a function of his hard-earned success, and he speaks to an audience that is always free to turn the station. Even if I don’t always agree with him — even if I sometimes think, “Hey, Mark, could you maybe turn it down to 11?” — Levin is honest, and does not fawn or flatter or backstab.

If Levin’s got a problem with you, he’s going to come right at you. That’s just the way the bad boys roll. Either roll with them, or get out of the way, Moe Green.

My advice to David Frum would be to admit his error and try to make amends, because like I said, “Buddy, you done pissed off the wrong redneck.”

UPDATE II: Now linked at Memeorandum, and speaking of pissing off the wrong redneckCanadian, Kathy Shaidle jumps in and predicts the trench warfare will continue all week.
BTW, Kathy perfectly illustrates what I’m trying to say about trying to bridge the paleo/neo divide. Kathy is pro-Israel, which would normally make her neo, but she’s so bold in her political incorrectness, it’s as if Sam Francis had been reincarnated as a sawed-off Canadian girl. (NTTAWWT.)

And, by God, she fights. That’s what really counts with me. I admire conservatives who hate and despise liberalism with a primal ferocity, so that the minute the Left comes after one of our guys . . .

When you’re Jet,
You’re a Jet all the way,
From your first cigarette
To your last dying day.

Heaven help any fool who thinks he’s going to cross Kathy Shaidle and walk away unscathed.

UPDATE III: Just updated the right-sidebar headlines to link this post by Tigerhawk:

Sadly, it is fashionable among certain righty intellectuals to make a point of distancing themselves from Ann Coulter. . . .
The offensive reason, of course, is to establish their bona fides as “reasonable” conservatives so that they do not destroy their social lives. . . .
The more legitimate reason is that Ann, along with Rush, has been so successful promoting a sort of “low brow” conservatism (see John Derbyshire on this taxonomic classification and Rush Limbaugh’s impact on it) that the middle-brow version has been terribly diminished by comparison.

Like I said in the headline, “Watch it with that ‘lowbrow’ stuff, cracker.” Coulter and Limbaugh are obviously quite intelligent, and I credit them with knowing exactly what they’re doing. (See also: Dreher, Levin, and the Craft of Talk Radio.)

Some people like to imagine that they’re more sophisticated than Rush, more sensitive than Coulter, more civil than Levin. And anyone who thinks like that is an arrogant son of bitch, in my book.

When someone is very successful at what they do, they must be given credit for knowing what they’re doing. Don’t try to tell Jimmy Page how to play guitar and don’t tell Tiger Woods how to swing a three iron.

This is not to say that Page never misses a note, or that Tiger never shanks a drive, nor is it to say that Rush or Ann or Mark is immune to criticism. Rather, they have earned, by their demonstrable success, a certain level of respect for their judgment, and ought not be lectured self-righteously by some wannabe “expert” who never played the game. And I will repeat what I said before:

“One of the basic principles of military strategy is to reinforce success. If you see a man who fights and wins, give him reinforcements, and bid others to emulate his success.”

Conservatives who want to derogate successful leadership really need to ask themselves whether David Brooks, Kathleen Parker, Rod Dreher et al., have what it takes to inspire and lead conservatives to success. Evidence for such a proposition is lacking.

If Republicans had listened to Rush, John McCain never would have been the GOP nominee and Barack Obama would not have been the Democratic nominee. So if the Republican Party is in disarray, whose fault is that? It ain’t the fault of us “lowbrow” conservatives, is it?

Tigerhawk, you’re still a Jet in good standing, as far as I’m concerned. I’ve always liked John Derbyshire, but that was an article he never should have published. And if Rush or Ann see you quoting that kind of stuff, don’t say I didn’t try to warn you.

May 26, 2009

‘In the Famous Wordsof Rahm Emanuel . . .’

And you know what those two words are, don’t you, Rod Dreher?

Lately, Dreher has endlessly whined about talk-radio personalities he considers uncouth lowbrows. In March, Dreher said that Limbaugh’s speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference “made clear that the GOP and the conservative movement are stuck on stupid.” In April, Dreher said Glenn Beck was “giving crackpots a bad name.” Then Friday, Dreher called Mark Levin a “cretin,” a “creep” and a “trashmouth.” . . .
“Cretin”? A magna cum laude graduate of Temple University, Levin served in the Reagan administration, ultimately as chief of staff to Attorney General Ed Meese, before becoming president of the Landmark Legal Foundation. All of this Levin accomplished before beginning his successful radio career and, most recently, authoring the No. 1 bestseller Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto.
That Levin employs hyperbole and sarcasm on his show is only shocking to people who don’t listen to talk radio. More importantly, Levin believes conservatives are in a fight they cannot afford to lose, against implacable adversaries determined to win at all costs. When a guy begins a fight by slamming a barstool into the back of your head, the Marquis of Queensberry rules do not apply. If you respond by ripping open his carotid artery with the jagged edge of a broken beer bottle, whose fault is that? (“He needed killing,” as Texans like to say.) . . .

Please read the whole thing. Of course, Levin is fully capable of defending himself, and does so at length at Dan Riehl’s blog, including back and forth in the comments with Conor Friedersdorf. This is all part of the same problem I’ve been talking about for months, so also see:

You will find unfavorable reference to me in a series on “Conservative Renewal” at The Ordinary Gentlemen. What manner of conservative is Freddie DeBoer? Beats me, other than to say he’s the kind of conservative who doesn’t like me — a potentially formidable coalition there, I’m sure.

Unfortunately, there is so much competition for anti-Stacy market share that the numerous Gentlemen could manage only 45K visits in April, less than a third of what we racked up here with just me and Smitty.

I’m the pinata at this fiesta, so Clark Stooksbury gets in a whack, as does Friedersdorf. (What, Larison took a holiday?) The experience of being bear-baited like this, when I have so much to do that I can’t even keep up with my e-mail, is one reason I’m sympathetic to Levin:

Levin, who served as Ed Meese’s chief of staff, must defend in detail everything he says during 15 hours of weekly radio time against whatever specific criticism any blogger might make, or else be presumed indefensible.

It’s absurd, you see. Friedersdorf lashes out and then, if Levin considers it unworthy of his labor to respond point-by-point, Friedersdorf shouts that Levin didn’t address his “substantive criticisms.” Like Zell Miller said to Chris Matthews, it makes a fellow nostalgic for the days of the code duello.

Tim Blair of the Telegraph is at least amused my enumeration of behaviors that distinguish one from the wusses of Beltway elite journalism. OK, Tim, you want more?

  • If you’ve ever paid your rent with proceeds from ticket-scalping;
  • If you’ve ever had a search warrant served at your home;
  • If your high school yearbook was signed by at least one person later sentenced to life without parole;
  • If you have at least one scar as the result of a motorcycle accident;
  • If you’ve ever been in a fight that ended when your sister-in-law pulled a pistol;
  • If you know all the words to at least one David Allen Coe song;
  • If you’ve ever eluded a pursuing police car;
  • If you’ve ever been on the front row at a ZZ Top concert;
  • If you’ve ever worked in a strip club;
  • If you got fired for “fraternization” . . .

Well, the list could be extended ad infinitum, I suppose, but my wife reads the blog. And I must point out that I used to be a Democrat, so that the charge of “conservative hypocrisy” doesn’t apply. Of course, the main thing that separates me from the Beltway elite wusses is that none of them ever sported a Speedo in such fine style.

UPDATE: Thanks to Freddie DeBoer, Sully has now named me “the Malkinyest of Malkin Award winners.” Hey, I’m just “a kid from the South Bronx,” yo.

May 26, 2009

Hayekian, Reaganite or Texan?Essay on the Arrogance of the Elite

“It is just mind-boggling how some people think that an M.A. or a Ph.D. is somehow a bestowal of omniscience. . . . So why is it that so many academics believe that their word is final when it comes to anything and everything under the sun? As an academic myself, I can answer that question with one word: arrogance.”
Mike LaRoche, May 23, 2009

“The typical intellectual . . . need not possess special knowledge of anything in particular, nor need he even be particularly intelligent, to perform his role as intermediary in the spreading of ideas. What qualifies him for his job is the wide range of subjects on which he can readily talk and write, and a position or habits through which he becomes acquainted with new ideas sooner than those to whom he addresses himself.”
Friedrich Hayek, 1949

When I use “intellectual” and “elite” as putdowns, it is a Hayek’s conception of modern intellectuals as “secondhand dealers in ideas” that informs my disdain. The arrogance of their presumed omniscience, as Mike LaRoche says, is what renders them obnoxious.

Thomas Sowell (who far outranks me as a “top Hayekian public intellectual”) describes the liberal worldview as The Vision of the Anointed, a book that every conservative ought to read, re-read, and continue re-reading until it is thoroughly understood, if not indeed memorized.

When speaking about liberal bias in the media, I sometimes explain to conservative audiences what should need no explaining: The media elite hate you.

They hate you with a thoroughgoing contempt you cannot begin to comprehend. They hate everything you believe in and everything you stand for, and until you understand why they hate you, no defense against their hatred is possible.

The reason the elite hate you is because of your failure to acknowledge their superiority. What the elite cherish, above all else, is prestige. By questioning the truth of the elite’s belief, you deny their superiority and deprive them of prestige.

Have you ever wondered why evolutionists are so vehement in denouncing creationists? Among the elite, one cannot gain prestige by advocating biblical truth, creation ex nihilo as an expression of the transcendent soveignty of the Almighty.

If the Bible is true, then the elite are fools. To admit the possibility that “in the beginning was the Word,” is to suggest that Richard Dawkins is the intellectual inferior of the holy roller shouting hallelujahs at the Pentacostal revival in the hollows of eastern Kentucky.

Your Christian faith therefore is an insult to the elite, an attack upon their precious prestige, an invitation to whatever evil word or deed the elite employ against you. Creationism is a threat to the elite in the same way that the Ukrainian kulak was a threat to the Soviet revolution, or as Albert Einstein’s genius was a threat to Hitler’s vision of Aryan supremacy.

As the Marxist would say, those analogies are no accident, comrade.

“[E]very scholar can probably name several instances from his field of men who have undeservedly achieved a popular reputation as great scientists solely because they hold what the intellectuals regard as ‘progressive’ political views; but I have yet to come across a single instance where such a scientific pseudo-reputation has been bestowed for political reason on a scholar of more conservative leanings.”
Friedrich Hayek, 1949

For all that we are told about the need for conservatives to come up with “new ideas,” it is amazing how little the situation has changed in the six decades since Hayek wrote “Socialism and the Intellectuals.” Even the Nobel Prize (which Hayek won in 1974) has been tainted by being recently awarded to Al Gore and Paul Krugman.

The prestige enjoyed by Dawkins, Gore and Krugman is denied to Michael Behe, to Steven Hayward, to Thomas Sowell. To protect their status, the elite must deny prestige to their critics and it is this monopolization of prestige — not the pursuit or dissemination of sturdy truth — that eventually becomes the chief occupation as they seek to defend their supremacy against rivals.

You need not be an intellectual to understand this. Anyone who has ever worked in a dysfunctional office under an incompetent manager knows how this game is played. The manager has attained his position by deceiving his superiors into believing he is competent, and the object of the manager’s manipulations is to prevent the discovery that he doesn’t know how to do his job.

In this situation, the incompetent manager will:

  • Routinely take credit for the achievements of others;
  • Identify as enemies the most intelligent and competent of his underlings, since they are most aware of his ineptitude and most likely to benefit from his downfall;
  • Attempt by favoritism toward sycophants to create a Praetorian Guard to defend himself against criticism; and
  • Attribute all failures to scapegoats or circumstances beyond his control.

If you’ve ever been in the kind of toxic work environment where office politics is a bloodsport, then you understand how ambitious frauds can ascend to dominance, especially in environments where quantitative and qualitative measures of individual output are difficult to obtain.

This is one reason every bright, industrious student abhors the “group project” method that became vogue among progressive educators in the 1970s. Five students are assigned to the project, one or two do all the real work, sharing their grade with the slugs and dullards.

Students of Nicco Machiavelli, Antonio Gramsci or James Burnham equally understand how the organizational structure of institutions favor or disfavor various types of personalities and various means of advancement within those institutions.

Again, to borrow the Marxist’s maxim, it is no accident that incompetent backstabbers flock toward careers in academia. Who is to say whether one professor of women’s studies is superior to another? What are the criteria by which a dean chooses a new chairman for the sociology department? Now that Ph.D.’s in history, psychology and similar disciplines so vastly exceed the number of available tenure-track positions, the business of hiring and promoting in those fields has become notoriously arbitrary and politicized.

Academia is remote from the direct input of markets, and such is the prestige of elite institutions (e.g., the Ivy League schools) that the hiring process at Columbia or Yale can never affect the success and prosperity of those institutions unless — as in the notable case of Lawrence Summers at Harvard — they accidentally hire someone with the effrontery to criticize the elite’s belief system.

Yet it is a mistake to suppose that this sort of elitism exists only in academia or that elitism is only a problem among liberals.

“This is the issue of this election: whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.”
Ronald Reagan, 1964

As with Hayek, so with Reagan, one of Hayek’s most successful admirers. Isn’t it amazing how little things have changed? Truth is a sturdy thing and human nature is a constant factor in the equation, so that the elite always strive to impose their will, and the free man always struggles to resist.

If Reagan sneered at the elite, was he a “populist”? If he used “intellectual” as an epithet, did this make him “anti-intellectual”? No, he was merely expressing the Hayekian insight: Knowledge is so scattered among the population that, in the universe of facts, no one — no professor, no pundit, no politician — can ever have all the facts or claim such a superiority of knowledge that he qualifies to be an “expert” dictating the ordinary affairs of others.

That such arrogant presumptions of expertise are common among intellectuals is as obvious to me and Mike LaRoche as it was to Reagan and Hayek. And that those we might broadly descibe as the ruling class in Washington constitute an elite is self-evident. Reagan was therefore speaking of a real problem in American political life.

Having dealt with this intellectual elite in Washington for more than a decade, I know their habits and attitudes quite well. They habitually presume to know things they do not know, and react with hostility to anyone who questions their presumptions.

Ross Douthat, whose father is a successful attorney, grew up in New Haven, Conn., attended Hamden Hall Country Day School (tuition: $26K/yr.), graduated from Harvard University (tuition $32K/yr.), and married one of his Harvard classmates.

And the title of Douthat’s most recent book? Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream.

Douthat might be competent to suggest how Republicans can win the alumni of Hamden Hall and save the Harvard dream, but his only qualification to speak for the working class is the ubiquitous arrogance of the intellectual elite.

“You look back in the earlier times, there were no opportunities, so there were no opportunists. . . . Later on, you have all these people who figure it’s probably a pretty good political thing to do. And so they start talking about being conservative when they’re running [for office], but they really aren’t. So when they get to Congress or wherever they go, they’re pretty easily dissuaded.”
Al Regnery, The American Spectator

Douthat is the answer to a question that has long puzzled conservatives. When I abandoned the Democratic Party in the mid-1990s (hint: “From My Cold Dead Hands!”), one of the first things I discovered was that grassroots conservatives were perpetually peeved by the ineffectiveness of Republicans in Washington.

Living in northwest Georgia (Bob Barr’s district 1995-2003) this grassroots discontent was palpable. After I moved to Washington, I’d sometimes see people roll their eyes at any mention of Barr, whom even most conservatives in D.C. considered a reckless firebrand. I’d always tell them, “Man, if you think Bob’s an extremist, you ought to meet his constituents!”

The guy in charge of IT at the newspaper I worked for in Georgia was a federal licensed firearms dealer who used to tell me, “Hey, if you ever want to shoot a machine gun, just let me know.” Another grassroots leader among Republicans, the wife of a county judge, was also the head of the local Eagle Forum and an activist for the John Birch Society.

Bob Barr never could have been elected without the support of people like that, and if you believe in representative government, then it was Bob’s job to represent those people.

And that was my job, too. In 1997, I left Georgia to join the staff of the Washington Times, but not before all my conservative friends down home had thoroughly warned me not to forget where I came from. So it was that I came to Washington with a two-fold mission.

First, I would attempt to represent accurately the essential decency of the good folks I’d left behind — hard-working, God-fearing, patriotic and self-sufficient. If there is one belief that the elite never doubt for a minute, it is that the average citizen of Floyd County, Georgia, is demonstrably inferior to the average citizen of Chicago, Boston or San Francisco.

Bullshit. Want to argue, Harvard boy?

My second mission in Washington was to discover why the Republican Party failed so miserably to advance the kind of agenda that grassroots conservatives believed they were voting for. It took me many years to understand this, and the answer is complex, but it is also as simple as two words: Ross Douthat.

Well, the liberals had their intellectual elite, you see, and so conservatives decided they needed to get them one, too. Given the natural assumption that the finest minds in America had all been scooped up by the elite schools, there soon developed an intellectual superstructure in Washington of think-tank wonks, policy analysts, political advisers and journalists who came from the same elite background, and had attended the same elite institutions, as the liberal elite.

OK, fine. Let us match Ph.D. to Ph.D., expert to expert, in a sort of intellectual equivalent of the Harvard-Yale game. But while the liberal elite were directly and constantly associating with the liberals whose beliefs it was their job to translate into policy, the conservative elite were generally isolated from the kind of people whose beliefs they were representing.

The Democrat in Brooklyn may resent the arrogance of the Columbia University graduate who specializes in urban policy for the Brookings Institute, but the Brookings specialist is not immersed in an environment where that Brooklyn Democrat is sneered at contemptuously, the way a policy wonk at the American Enterprise Institute sneers as the constituents of the typical Republican congressman.

Whatever their differences in terms of policy, the Brookings wonk and the AEI wonk share the elite belief that the typical Brooklyn Democrat is somehow superior to the typical Georgia Republican. And from that shared belief — which I assure you is well-nigh universal among the intellectual elite in Washington — emanates the great divide between the Republican elite in Washington and the rank-and-file of the GOP.

The Republican elite is ashamed of its constituents in a way that the Democratic elite is not. Therefore, Democrats fight ferociously for their agenda in a way that Republicans seldom do.

The Republican elite in Washington crave prestige, you see, and they cannot gain prestige by sticking up for the typical GOP voter in Tucson, Tulsa, Tampa or Tulllahoma. You cannot become one of The Republicans Who Really Matter by defending Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh. No one can impress his friends at a Georgetown cocktail party by saying nice things about Sarah Palin or Joe the Plumber. No one in the D.C. elite — whether Republican or Democrat — can ever advance his career by quoting Michelle Malkin or Mark Levin.

You see why not only do Republican elites fail to defend their own party’s constituents, but they viciously attack anyone who attempts to represent the core beliefs of the conservative grassroots. Because if Michelle Malkin is a conservative, then David Brooks is not, and it is only his status as token “conservative” that assures Brooks of membership in the elite. If Brooks were just another liberal Democrat, after all, the New York Times already has plenty of those from which to choose.

So when you see some “conservative” sneering at Rush Limbaugh or mocking the Tea Party movement — what you are witnessing is the effort of elitists to signal to their fellow elitists that they are in on the joke, that they don’t take seriously the core values of grassroots types like Joe the Plumber.

“Even where the direction of policy is in the hands of men of affairs of different views, the execution of policy will in general be in the hands of intellectuals, and it is frequently the decision on the detail which determines the net effect. We find this illustrated in almost all fields of contemporary society. Newspapers in ‘capitalist’ ownership, universities presided over by ‘reactionary’ governing bodies, broadcasting systems owned by conservative governments, have all been known to influence public opinion in the direction of socialism, because this was the conviction of the personnel.”
Friedrich Hayek, 1949

What Hayek says here can be applied equally, you see, to the Republican Party and the various institutions of the conservative movement. If the think-tank wonks, the congressional staffers and the writers for conservative journals believe in same-sex marriage, global warming or universal health care, efforts to employ those institutions on behalf of contrary opinions will not be as effective as if those efforts were conducted by personnel who actually shared the beliefs they were paid to advance.

The elite cadre of the GOP and the official conservative movement constitute a bureaucracy, and the critique of bureaucracy are equally valid. The beliefs of the Heritage Foundation bureaucrat are in many ways more important in the operations of that institution than the beliefs of Ed Feulner or Ed Meese. The enemy within the camp is always the most to be feared.

Why, after all, does John Cornyn not hesitate to urinate all over the Republican rank-and-file in Florida by endorsing Charlie Crist more than a year before the primary? Because no one at NRSC headquarters, nor any member of Cornyn’s Senate staff, has any interest in the concerns of the conservative grassroots nor any incentive to represent those concerns.

Is David Brooks going to speak up for Marco Rubio? Will Kathleen Parker defend the rights of Florida Republicans to choose their own candidates? Do you expect Rod Dreher to tear himself away from the important work of defaming Mark Levin in order to tell his readers in Dallas what Cornyn has done?

“This is the arrogance of the intellectual elite, to imagine that their particular specialty — the expression of abstract ideals via the written word — is the only ability that matters, qualifying them as experts on anything and everything they choose to write about.”
Robert Stacy McCain, May 22, 2009

Michelle Malkin went to Oberlin, Mark Levin went to Temple and Ann Coulter went to Dartmouth. These are all elite institutions, and all three of these individuals engage in endeavors that qualify them as “intellectuals” in the sense that their work involves “shaping public opinion.” Why, then, are they at odds with, and scorned by, the people you think of as the “intellectual elite”? Chiefly because they do not look down at The Ordinary American, nor do they ever entertain the notion that their readers are morons incapable of thinking for themselves.

The greatest example of this respect for the grassroots, of course, is Rush Limbaugh. If you listen to Rush regularly, you know that sometimes he’ll get a caller who’ll say, “Rush, how can you say such-and-so? Everybody in the MSM is saying the opposite. The people will believe the MSM, not you!” And Limbaugh will calmly reply, “Look, you figured it out on your own. I figured it out. Don’t you think that other people see the same thing and can figure it out for themselves? Give people some credit.”

What makes Rush angry is the evident belief of so many Republican “leaders” that the American people can’t handle the truth. Among these truths is that the economic agenda of today’s Democrats is the exact same agenda that Hayek warned was being advanced by the intellectuals of 1949.

Begins with an “s,” ends with an “m,” and I don’t mean “sarcasm.” But don’t say it out loud, or Rod Dreher will call you a “crackpot.”

May 22, 2009

The Geek at the Prom vs. Mark Levin

“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?”
Rod Dreher, May 22, 2009

“You’re always ranting against any conservative who is actually popular with Republicans. Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Malkin, Mark Levin, et cetera. . . . You’re like the geek at the dance, complaining that the prom queen and the quarterback are so popular.”
Robert Stacy McCain, May 17, 2009

Do yourself a favor. Buy the No. 1 New York Times bestseller by the founder of the Landmark Legal Foundation, the nationally syndicated radio host recently ranked No. 11 in the nation by Talkers magazine, “the Great One,” Mark Levin.

Ed Driscoll reminds us of a line from The Three Amigos: “In-famous is when you’re more than famous.”

UPDATE: I must address something my friend (shhhhh!) Joe Marier says in the comments:

The smash-mouth style is a traditional part of talk radio, granted. It takes its cues from the Don Rickles – George Carlin brands of comedy. In the DC market, though, WTOP has been killing it with more of an NPR style, and that’s the style Rod Dreher (and Frum, for that matter) has been pursuing.

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.

This is the arrogance of the intellectual elite, to imagine that their particular specialty — the expression of abstract ideals via the written word — is the only ability that matters, qualifying them as experts on anything and everything they choose to write about.

Written expression is an ability, and an important one, but it is not synonymous with intelligence. I don’t give a damn what your SAT score was — and I’ve been knocking the tops off standardized tests of verbal reasoning since I was in elementary school — an 800 verbal does not qualify you to dictate to the rest of the world what they should do, what they should say, or what they should think.

Despite my frequent and scathing criticisms of George W. Bush, I never mistook his verbal awkwardness for stupidity. The man was a fighter jet pilot and holds a Harvard MBA. Even if his syntax and delivery are atrocious — and even if he inherited the family trait of disastrous political instincts — George W. Bush is not less intelligent than Conor Friedersdorf.

A disdain of blunt expression is natural among those who make their living in the wussified environment of contemporary elite journalism. To be a journalist in Washington is to live one’s life surrounded by men who have never driven 110 mph, never spent a night in jail, and never won a fightfight in their lives.

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.

Washington journalism is like some kind of perverse alternative reality where the Beta males are dominant.

It is therefore not surprising that the effete elite of American journalism sneers at Mark Levin. What Levin possesses — and what the typical 21st-century journalist never has possessed nor ever will — is the double-dog-dare-ya boyish audacity that the Ordinary American naturally admires.

Levin’s insult to the woman who called him up was perfectly understood by his audience. The woman was engaged in an essentially dishonest tactic that every succesful talk-show host knows too well: Lying her way past the call-screener and then attempting to hijack Levin’s show to disseminate a pro-Obama message.

Levin insulted her because she deserved to be insulted, and for every Conor Friedersdorf who was shocked — shocked! — by Levin’s abrasiveness, there were at least a hundred normal guys driving home from work who reflexively slapped the dashboard and said, “Hell, yeah! You tell ‘er, Mark!”

“One of the basic principles of military strategy is to reinforce success. If you see a man who fights and wins, give him reinforcements, and bid others to emulate his success.”
Robert Stacy McCain, March 21, 2009

Mark Levin is such a success, a man who fights and wins. He has achieved his success independently, by his own merit and relentless labor, and I am not fit to tell him what he should or should not say on his own radio show.

One more thing: Mark Levin is a big man. His nasal tenor voice might lead the uninformed listener to picture him as a diminuitive nebbish. He is not. He’s the size of a Big 10 linebacker and I’d bet dollars to donuts Levin could take out Rod Dreher with a single punch.

UPDATE: Reply to Dreher.

UPDATE II: ‘In the famous words of Rahm Emanuel . . .’

September 26, 2008

On O’Reillyism

Allah’s got audio of Mark Levin ripping Bill O’Reilly a new one. Levin notes O’Reilly’s sneering references to “ideologues” and to Rush Limbaugh’s cigars and private jet. Here’s the clip via Breitbart:

Levin characterizes O’Reilly’s arguments for the bailout — like O’Reilly’s previous bashing of “Big Oil” — as “populism.,” which is rather unfair to populists. As much as I hate to bring religion into this, I think O’Reilly is another of those Catholics who can’t get over Rerum Novarum and Quadragesimo Anno.

A distrust of raw capitalism runs deep in Catholic social teaching, and it is not unusual to meet Catholics who are profoundly conservative on issues like abortion and homosexuality but who, when the discussion turns to economics, are staunch defenders of statist interventionism.

The only cure for this ailment is large doses of Mises, Hayek, and Sowell. Christian socialism is still socialism, and government is not a charitable endeavor.

UPDATED: Via Liberal Conspiracy, here is O’Reilly ranting about “right-wing liars”:

Sounds like O’Reilly doing a bad Michael Savage imitation.