For those who haven’t been following my writing at Post Right: I’ve worked myself into quite the brouhaha over my opinions about Mark Levin, who has added me to his list of the World’s Most Deranged Bloggers. Dan Riehl has taken offense to this and done his best to call me out here. Post Right is loaded with posts, from me and many of my compeers, related to this matter, but I want to offer a direct response to Mr. Riehl here. I had hoped to post in the comment box beneath his initial screed, but my reply has proved to be far too long. Without further, ado, then, I offer it.
I’d initially decided not to enter this fray, not to enter the lion’s den, as it were, but, having been defended by souls kinder than I deserve, feel something of an obligation to speak for myself, ideally deflecting any criticism, infantile or, occasionally, rational, from them and toward me.
First, as others have noted, something strikes me as manifesting a sort of disconnection, a level of disingenuousness, if not outright hypocrisy, about criticizing me for voicing my disdain for Mr. Levin without actually having listened to his program and then calling me “an apparent moron” without knowing anything about me, the opinions I hold, the educational achievements on my record, or my writing beyond one apparently controversial online screed.
If, Mr Riehl, you bothered to read any of my relatively few postings as Post Right, or at my personal Weblog, then I retract this statement. However, nothing suggests that you did. On the other hand, I at least read summaries of Mr. Levin’s daily program before making any comments. This is, I agree, not the same as listening; however, notwithstanding any nuances or exceptions that he may offer during the show, these summaries, paired with writings of his available across the Web, suffice to paint a picture of his views. Also, I did take the time to read the debate between you and Mr. Friedersdorf, wherein Mr. Levin chimed in and wherein Conor excerpted the original broadcast segment that so appalled him. So, although I admit that I was perhaps venturing slightly beyond safe ground in waging my “war” against Mr. Levin, I have proceeded far more safely than you have, and I did do some legwork, so to speak.
Regarding the very first sentence of your post: I’m not sure why an anti-Levin screed at a Weblog hosted by The American Conservative surprises you as it does. The magazine’s non-mainstream perspective(s) are quite obvious. Some of your commenters, replying to your philippic against Mr. Ford, have called it a right-wing version of The Nation. That’s not quite right, but it does hit on the anti-war nature of the publication. I’m not sure that anything about being anti-war, particularly when our Wilsonian leaders find pretext for war just about anywhere, is anti-conservative. Taft, Kirk, et al., I think, would agree. I wholly admit that I may be wrong, given my age and the sadly small amount of Kirk that I’ve read, but he strikes me as having been a pretty anti-war sort of chap. TAC has a lot more in common with Kirk and Taft than with neoconservatives, the Republican Party, and mainstream conservatism.
Your comment about my attire in one picture is a bit perplexing, particularly given that you’ve apparently no eye for context. That photograph was actually taken on my family farm. There’s nothing Wyatt Earp-esque or Bad Bart-esque about it. I’m just a country boy; my family owns farmland, my grandfather’s been on that farm since 1914, and I drive our beat-up 1988 Chevy truck as often as I do my car. Such an ad hominem attack (if it’s even worthy of Latin) seems, to me, to below what passes for sincere, honest discourse about ideas. Again, I’m young: I may simply be missing out on the salient point here.
(Truth be told, I wish I’d one of my three-piece-suit photographs up; I’m curious to see how you’d have responded, especially if it had been one in which I’m wearing a pink shirt. I can only imagine what fun you may have had at my expense!)
The broader point about your linking to my Facebook profile, as Patrick addressed in response to your post about his input on this whole kerfuffle, is that, whether or not Facebook is public, linking to it is, in the words of a friend, “so sixth grade”. It’s useless (particularly given the ease wherewith I changed my profile picture) and, to those not in my network, not my “friends”, and not “friends” of my “friends”, the profile is inaccessible. Visitors who click on your link see my profile picture, my networks, and a couple of my “friends”. It’s not offensive or wrong; just silly and slightly creepy.
A grad student all of 26 years old, versus Mark Levin’s significant accomplishments in multiple fields – from Reagan’s White House to the bestseller’s list … but Mr. Wilson’s nemesis Dennis passes judgment without ever having listened to Mark’s show??? Spare me, please. At least the guy is honest enough to tell us just how utterly stupid he is right upfront with that revealing bit of idiocy.
(A quick, minor correction: I’m not a graduate student anymore, as I have earned my master’s degree, and I’m only twenty-five. Where you got twenty-six is a mystery to me, but not particularly relevant.) Although, I reckon, there’s something slightly impressive about having served in the White House, serving as a lackey to a Federal official, even the president, hardly wows me. I guess that’s the Anti-Federalist in me; I don’t trust the presidency, and I’m perpetually baffled by the right-wing adulation for a man whose policies were anything but fiscally conservative. Moreover, given the absolute rubbish that makes the bestsellers’ list (as I’m sure you and Mr. Levin both would agree), I’m not very interested in that feat. I’m not going to contend that Mr. Levin isn’t intelligent or successful; both are obvious. These facts neither make him any more qualified to comment than I am nor indicate a higher — or lower — level of intelligence. Yes, I did pass judgment without listening — though, as I’ve noted, I did at least do some legwork. Having listened, finally, to some of Mr. Levin’s program, I am only further convinced of the correctness of my beliefs. (See here, if you — or your readers — so desire: http://www.amconmag.com/postright/2009/07/01/one-more-levin-post-someone-stop-me/ ) I may be stupid and honest, as you charge; at least, as you also note, I’m honest.
In the comments to your post about Patrick, and in the post itself, you reject the label “neoconservative” for both yourself and for Mr. Levin. I’ve not read enough of your material to comment on you. However, I’m not sure that I agree with your assessment of Mr. Levin. “Neoconservative” is, mayhap, thrown about too easily, too frequently, by other conservatives (paleo, reformist, or otherwise) and by leftists; however, having listened to Mr. Levin claim that President Obama has a “hate-on for Israel” — a patently absurd comment to make —, and knowing of his strongly interventionist tendencies, I can only extrapolate that he, indeed, is at least moderately neoconservative. As I’ve noted a hundred times if once, he does seem to be sincere in his belief in limited government respecting domestic policy — and I haven’t heard or read enough to have a clear idea of where he falls on “social issue” —, so I’m willing to grant that maybe he’s not a pure neocon, but he certainly seems to have similar proclivities, and his interventionist tendencies restrict his respectable views on limited government to the point of making them irrelevant. The welfare state and the warfare state are pretty inextricably intertwined, as are expansion of government for the purposes of what Professor Bacevich and others refer to as “American exceptionalism” and the continued expansion of Federal interference with our lives. To paraphrase Mr. Levin, “There’s a reason why they push big government in foreign policy: Because it leads to bigger government at home, much more surreptitiously.”
AND NOW, relatively briefly, a few replies to some commenters.
*Rhod: I’m not sure that your characterization of TAC is quite right. There’s definitely truth to it, but it’s a very incomplete characterization. I only fit into one of those groups — the “isolationists” —, and it’s hardly how primarily describe my views. Also, since when is “crank” an epithet?
Don’t worry *SacTownMan, I’m well aware of the limits of my intelligence. However, I’m not sure what’s “NEW” about my conservatism. Though I’ve done copious amounts of reading (and “reading”) in my day, the breadth of my knowledge is limited. However, I do know enough to draw on Aristotle, Aquinas, Burke, Belloc, Kirk, Röpke, and others — none of whom I’d call “NEW”.
*mark l.: Don’t you think limiting political viewpoints to merely two poles, dubbed “liberal” and “conservative”, is both unhelpful and passé?
rather than arriving at a position based upon the two competing ideologies, they must calibrate their position relative to the other’s point on the line. It becomes a matter of defining their beliefs upon who they will not stand next to, rather than arrive at their locus based upon the primary, and only real, question.
I don’t even know what to make of this. I’ve been defining and re-defining my beliefs for a helluva lot longer than Mr. Levin’s been anywhere near my radar. I’d be more than happy to “stand next to” him on those issues where we agree, should I ever have to, but a “No Enemies to the Right” mentality is not my cup of tea.
Well Bush Derangement Syndrome had to go somewhere. And if it did, it couldn’t have focused on a more marvelous target – Mark Levin. You really do have to be deranged to think at 26 or 30 years of age you are in Mark Levin’s league. Why a 40 year old would be hard pressed to be in Mark’s league. Think about how many of Mark’s accomplishments a 26 year-old would have to outright dismiss to believe this about themselves. Positively breathtaking. These * writers * really ought to consider applying for a White House Fellowship – Obama could use them-well.
I’ve already addressed most of what you cover here, but I’ll return to one point. Age has very little to say, ultimately, an Mr. Levin’s feats in his life, though respectable, hardly put him in some unattainable seraphic or Elysian league. He’s just a guy with opinions; he just happens to have a microphone, experience that dazzles the vapid, and a vastly larger audience.
I’m not really sure that Mr Obama’s White House has any interest in someone like me. They seem generally to disapprove of localist, anti-interventionist, anti-corporate, anti-statist conservatives.
I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why you question our conservative credentials with asterisks; I guess all of that “big-tent” malarky proves itself to be what it is when someone inside the figurative tent dares to question someone else.
*Rob Crawford: That sounds like snark to me. Tsk, tsk.
Filed under: Conservatism, Self-reference | Tagged: Dan Riehl, Mark Levin, Post Right | 6 Comments »