-- 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!"
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 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
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 . . .'