The "Great One" Has a Problem

For me, one of the biggest casualties of this election season is the respect I once held for Mark Levin. Before, I saw him as the smart, fiercely-principled (if a little temperamental) conservative responsible for one of the most valuable books on my shelves, Men in Black. But as the GOP primary battle has worn out its welcome, so has Levin. Through a series of radio outbursts, mistreated callers, and snide Facebook comments in which he exaggerates Mitt Romney’s flaws, understates the competitors’ flaws, and viciously attacks anyone who shows the slightest sympathy for him, Levin has shown himself to be dishonest, obnoxious, and afflicted with a serious anger management problem.
Last night, while looking around to see if anyone else on the Right had noticed this, I came across two very interesting Weekly Standard posts from 2010. In the first one, John McCormack reveals how Levin attacked his reporting on Christine O’Donnell’s gender discrimination lawsuit against the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, and after a few emails asking for elaboration, Levin simply replied, “Lol. I think you’re an ass. You can quote me.” In the second one, Stephen Hayes responds to Levin’s false claim that he or the Standard was in the tank for Mike Castle, and Levin’s petty whining that Hayes didn’t mention that Levin endorsed Rubio early. Read them both in full; they’re quite illuminating.
The Great One? More like the Fake One. This is not somebody conservatives should be indulging or looking up to.

Hugh Hewitt Doesn’t Get It

I have great respect for the man’s passion and intellect, but how he can read Joe Scarborough’s column jumping on the defamation bandwagon and conclude that the man is “well-meaning” – especially since Hewitt himself says that Scarborough, acting in his capacity as a major, professional publication’s “chief conservative columnist,” made the argument “a week after it had been discredited” – is beyond me.

So, “well-meaning” people can make defamatory arguments they know not to be true? Really?

Like far too many people, Hewitt talks as though politics is just a game or a sport, not a matter of basic right and wrong with the American people’s liberties and well-being in the balance. Rather than condemning Scarborough’s actions as dishonest, unethical, immoral, and dishonorable, Hewitt gently chides him as if he’s merely been caught traveling in basketball.

If we finally want to get serious about defeating the Left and their unconscionable tactics, this simply won’t do. It’s high time our elected officials and commentators alike get the message.

Michael Medved: What Does “Get Back to the Constitution” Mean?

Michael Medved is, bar none, one of the most intelligent, knowledgeable, and eloquent guys in all of talk radio—which is why it’s such a shame that he devotes so much of his skill to deflecting substantive criticism away from the Republican Party.  Townhall’s Greg Hengler highlights the following exchange between Medved and a caller (h/t to Hot Air):

Here is a great exchange between a caller to Michael Medved’s radio show who’s obviously influenced by Glenn Beck’s daily mantras like “There is no difference between the two parties — they’re both ‘progressive’,” etc. Without naming Beck’s name, Medved goes off on this caller (read: Glenn Beck). Take a listen:

I’ll be the first to agree that Beck substantially overstates the similarities between Republicans and Democrats (in fact, I’ll go even further and say that Beck’s analysis often comes across as impulsive and poorly thought out), and this particular caller does not make his case well at all.  But while Beck overstates the problem, that doesn’t exonerate Medved from understating it.  He challenges the caller to provide a single example of an issue on which John McCain and Barack Obama were on the same page.

I’ll take that challenge, Michael: not only is McCain’s role in campaign finance reform the stuff of legend, but it could even be argued that he’s even more to the left here than Obama is.

I do believe that satisfies the original challenge, but let’s throw in a second, for good measure: immigration.  McCain is also infamous for his left-wing zealotry in favor of amnesty, and though he may have backpedaled ever so slightly in 2008 for political expediency, he incredibly ran an ad running to Obama’s left here as well, accusing Obama of playing a role in killing 2007’s amnesty bill.

Besides, being somewhat better than the alternative is still not sufficient to rise to the level of good.  Take abortion, for example—when your opponent gets caught red-handed on the wrong side of starving newborns to death in broom closets, it doesn’t take much effort to look good by comparison.

On almost every conceivable issue, John McCain’s conservative credentials have serious flaws, not the least of which was the mainstream conservative Club for Growth’s judgment that his “overall record is tainted by a marked antipathy towards the free market and individual freedom.”

I voted for McCain. I understand that half a loaf is better than no loaf.  I don’t demand 100% ideological purity from every single politician.  But the GOP’s lack of commitment to conservatism is bigger than a handful of isolated blemishes; it’s an identity crisis that caused and enabled many of the Bush presidency’s failings and led to the election of Barack Obama.  Will Medved admit that this is a real, legitimate problem?  How does he propose that we address it?  (And no, throwaway admissions that “Republicans aren’t perfect” don’t count.)

As to the third party question: it’s true that anyone who expects a third party candidate to actually win the White House is delusional, and I’m not aware of any existing third parties that deserve to be taken seriously.  But while many disgruntled conservatives may have mixed-up views of them, a decent third party might be useful in a different way: not as a replacement for the GOP, but as the catalyst for real GOP reform.  As long as Republicans keep limping along on life support, the Beltway types will take their every victory as an affirmation that they’re doing enough right that they’re justified in maintaining the status quo.  It’s doubtful that anything less than a real threat to Republican viability would be enough to force any real self-reflection.

What’s most shameful is Medved’s angry, impatient reaction to the idea that Republicans need to “get back to the Constitution”:

What does that mean?  Stop with the slogans! Talk to me about reality! Americans are out of jobs, there’s 10% unemployment in this country.  We are being spent into oblivion […] so why are you talking about pie-in-the-sky stupidity, fantasy land, kindergarten, childish idiot stuff?  I mean, and you are!

Regardless of Brian’s inability to articulate his message, the fact remains there is no way Medved does not know exactly what “get back to the Constitution” means.  He’s simply too smart, too informed, and too active a conservative intellectual not to.  Take the courts—did the GOP put up much of a fight against Sonia Sotomayor?  Federal influence in education, healthcare, and environmental & workplace regulations have obvious constitutional problems.  In many cases, the GOP has been on the wrong side of these questions, and even when they haven’t, often they fail to make an issue of the constitutional aspect (though there are a few bright spots).  Is restoring a proper understanding of & reverence for the Constitution no longer a major priority of conservatism, in Medved’s view?

This exchange was indeed educative, but not for the reason Hengler thinks.  It demonstrates that, while talk radio personalities like Michael Medved are a tremendous asset in some ways, in others they’re part of the problem.

Open Letter to Michael Medved

Dear Michael Medved,

Thank you for the fine work in your recent Townhall column, “
Capturing the Language to Assure Liberal Dominance.” The piece eloquently and effectively tackles one of the chief pollutants in the national discourse. However, I cannot help but notice a little irony here—in the wake of the latest immigration bill’s announcement, you have employed the very same pollutant in the Republican establishment’s defense.

You asked, “Why did [Senator John Kyl] oppose immigration reform, but this time he’s in favor of it?” Just as “pro-choice” is a technically-accurate-yet-biased term for abortion advocacy, labeling the new legislation “reform” suggests it to be inherently good, and even worse, calling Kyl a one-time opponent of “immigration reform” dishonestly suggests he opposed doing anything to change the system, suggests that we oppose reform itself, rather than a particular type of so-called “reform.”

This is a deception you’ve put forth repeatedly.
You claim we “want so desperately to preserve the status quo of the current broken system, with all its obscene costs, hypocrisy, and security threats to our country.” You cannot possibly believe that we somehow approve of the status quo, so why write it?

Most troubling, however, is the stunning ease with which you dismiss the serious, substantive criticism of this bill as “the hysterical (and increasingly dishonest) denunciations of ‘amnesty’ on talk radio.”
On your show you said “That’s political posturing, that’s sloganeering by people who, it seems to me for their own political interests, are telling people what they want to hear. I don’t know why people wanna be upset about this.” It’s clear that you’ve made an active, concerted effort to demonize & trivialize bill opposition as fanatic, sinister, and dangerous, culminating with the obscene, demagogic characterization of Tom Tancredo as “racist” (yet Lanny Davis is OK? What a disgrace.). It’s stunning to juxtapose the Medved spin with the American reality (although I do have to thank you for one thing—your tactics provided the inspiration for a book I’d like to write someday: When the Right Goes Left).

The following is an exhaustive (but rest assured, not definitive) list of people who, according to you and
Linda Chavez, are apparently a bunch of racists, liars and/or fools. Click on each name and you’ll see or hear their stance on the latest immigration developments. Most are strong “comprehensive-reform” opponents, while some are open to the general concepts of guest worker programs & amnesty (by the way, they’re at least honest enough to call what they support by its real name), but all are united on one point: the flaws in this bill are far more severe than you are willing to admit.

Glenn Beck
Bill Bennett
Tony Blankley
Robert Bluey
William F. Buckley
Tammy Bruce
Amanda Carpenter
Ann Coulter
Jim DeMint
John Fonte
David Frum
Newt Gingrich
Sean Hannity
Hugh Hewitt
Duncan Hunter
Laura Ingraham
Terrence Jeffrey
Mickey Kaus
Charles Krauthammer
Mark Krikorian
Bill Kristol
Mark Levin
David Limbaugh
Rush Limbaugh
Kathryn Jean Lopez
Rich Lowry
Heather MacDonald
Michelle Malkin
Andy McCarthy
Edwin Meese
National Review Editors
Peggy Noonan
Kate O’Beirne
John O’Sullivan
Ramesh Ponnuru
Dennis Prager
Robert Rector
Mitt Romney
Phyllis Schlafly
Jeff Sessions
Thomas Sowell
Mark Steyn
Andrew Stuttaford
Cal Thomas
Fred Thompson
George Will

Read that list again. You’ll see a great many of your colleagues in writing, blogging & talk radio, including some enormously distinguished & admirable Americans, and conservatives whose work you personally have extolled in the past. Just like you, they’ve spent years passionately fighting for conservative values in the court of public opinion. Just like you, they’ve gone to tremendous lengths to defend President George W. Bush from liberal demagoguery. But unlike you, they’ve reached their breaking point as far as how much bull they’re willing to tolerate from this ineffectual White House and Republican Party. After just a few of their detailed, thoughtful commentaries, you ought to see that there’s no “racism” or “hysteria” in their sincere concern. Our devotion to America’s future is sincere, and it deserves better than the cheap demonization which seems to be your stock in trade.

Calvin Freiburger

Hey, It’s Hayworth!

The gentleman standing next to me in my profile picture is former Congressman JD Hayworth, Republican of Arizona. I’ve been impressed with his cable news appearances over the years, and when I visited DC two summers ago, I was bowled over by the stirring speech he gave. I had high hopes that he might toss his hat into the presidential race (indeed, he’s the only politician who could get me to jump off the SS Romney—if anybody close to Mitt or JD somehow manages to see this, I’m begging you to PLEASE consider Romney-Hayworth ’08!).

Out of the disastrous ’06 midterms, the loss that hit me the hardest was Hayworth’s, perhaps even more so than Mark Green’s (by the way,
he did not lose because of his immigration stance, as the amnesty crowd claims). So I’ve been trying to find out what he’s been doing post-Capitol Hill.

Finally, we have
an answer:

Former U.S. Congressman J.D. Hayworth will return to his old job Thursday as afternoon host on
KFYI Newstalk 550.

Hayworth, who lost his seat in November to former Tempe Mayor Harry Mitchell, will be heard from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the highly coveted afternoon drivetime slot.

He joins a prominent list of conservatives on the Clear Channel subsidiary including Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Michael Savage.

“We’ll cut through the clutter of political pollution and offer Phoenician’s common sense during these uncommon times,” said Hayworth in a released statement.

He’s a natural for the job…but I hope he hasn’t shut the door completely on political office. America needs you, JD.