In Defense Of Mark Levin

May 22, 2009

Rod Dreher has a problem with Mark Levin. Mark, of all people, doesn't need defending. He does fine on his own. But I have some thoughts for Dreher.

Conor Friedersdorf listened to a Levin bit the other day, in which the radio talker had the following exchange:

MARK LEVIN: Answer me this, are you a married woman? Yes or no?

MARK LEVIN: Well I don't know why your husband doesn't put a gun to his temple. Get the hell out of here.

This is the same Mark Levin whose book is a huge bestseller. 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.

I've admired Mark for years, going back to when he would appear on cable news shows. His grasp of the Constitution and issues involving the Supreme Court is unmatched by any other political talking head, or radio talker of whom I am aware.

He penned both Men in Black and Liberty and Tyranny, two truly stand out books amid the usual political writing we see from former government officials. His Rescuing Sprite revealed a softer, more human side.

Mark is President of the Landmark Legal Foundation, a prominent and extremely reputable agent for justice and openness grounded on the Right.

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?

When Dreher can answer that question to my satisfaction, perhaps I'll consider viewing his grousing as something more than a small fish with an even smaller stickleback up his butt carping up a food chain I doubt he'll ever climb.

Finally, having read at least a bit of Dreher over the years, how his regular readers keep from putting guns to their temples, I'll never know.

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  1. Doug Ross says:

    I heard the comment as well and it was simply a flippant attempt at humor and nothing more.
    Dreher is like many who attack the Constitutionalists — they can’t debate on the merits, so they nibble at the edges. I was offended… it was con-tro-versial..
    Dreher can go pound sand in a playground.

  2. lala says:

    I didn’t hear the broadcast but if I had I would have laughed.

  3. jenkuznicki says:

    I thought the comment was hilarious, given the stupidity of the caller. She was a yenta, and he was speaking as he would (in my opinion) like he had gotten into a conversation with this hag on the street. I would have said something similar only using bad words.

  4. Tim says:

    I’ve also had the good fortune of knowing Mark Levin for a few years now. He’s a good human being yet does not suffer fools like the particular lady in question for long. Perhaps Dreher ought to call in and complain to Mark personally and see how long he lasts. My guess is Dreher would hang up smelling like toast.
    Looking over Dreher’s blog, I’m saying to myself “Who?” As in, who the heck in Rod Dreher? The links in the sidebar are instructive; I never heard of most of those folks either. What stands out is he has links to both the Corner and Andrew Sullivan. As Dreher allegedly writes about religion and music from a conservative point of view that might explain the NRO’s Corner. Yet what explains his linking to Andrew Sullivan? I vaguely recall (and could be wrong) reading Sullivan is a gay atheist. What instrument does he play.

  5. di butler says:

    I have nothing for the Crunchy Con. I think of him as the Crunchy Granola-Nut Conman. I made the comment on his blog, after seeing this on HotAir, that I was a woman, and I was honest enough to know we don’t come with angel wings, and I don’t see how men live with us, anway. His holier than thou attitude wore thin with me the first time I read one of his postings. It hasn’t changed in the last 2 yrs. He is very Brooksian in his views, a Frum wannabe you might say. PASS.

  6. lonetown says:

    I like Levin’s bit where he gets a liberal ready to spew and sets him up with “ok you’ve got 20 seconds to make your point. GO! then dead air or gibberish.

  7. daveinboca says:

    Mark demonstrates the saeva indignatio or “savage indignation” that Jonathan Swift exhibited when authoritarians in power ride roughshod over the rights of others. What’s Dreher’s problem with an occasional outburst on air or a failed attempt at humor by a guy who doesn’t suffer fools well? Good for Mark, I enjoy his occasionally rancid and overdone comments on the monstrosities being committed by “useful idiots” like Reid, Pelosi, and The Won. [Whose self-indulgent narcissism personifies the preening dorkiness of the liberal left.]

  8. BD57 says:

    The ONLY point Dreher could made (with some editorial commentary):
    “Levin hands the Democrats audio that fits their caricature of Conservatives and they’ll use it to win the vote of moderates (who really aren’t and wouldn’t vote Republican if you held a gun to THEIR head)”
    Seriously – anyone who “decided” to vote Democrat because Mark Levin wasn’t nice to a liberal caller was never a potential Republican vote in the first place.

  9. Brian in Idaho says:

    I had read crunchy con and found some common ground but am growing weary of this guy. There is a industry that is promoting supposed conservatives that only critique conservatives. Hey how about a 2 to 1 ratio? Critique the enemy twice as much as you slam your friends?

  10. davis,br says:

    “Attempt at humour”? It didn’t sound like an attempt at all, to me …I thought it WAS funny.
    And I’ve heard Levin do the same kind of shtick before. And it was funny then, too.

  11. Bob says:

    Ooohhh . . . listen to the tough-talking conservatives! Put ‘em on the waterboard and they last . . . what . . . about six fricking seconds.
    Tell me one thing that talk radio tough guys have achieved for this country. It’s nothing but outrage porn for impotent, frustrated wimps.

  12. Jack Okie says:

    Bob, I’m sure your own accomplishments for this country are a beacon for us all. Please enlighten us.
    P.S. Your Olbermann impersonation needs work.

  13. Bob says:

    I do my own small part, Jack, and the difference is that I don’t get paid big bucks to go on the air and mislead and manipulate people. I don’t use my professional position to sow the seeds of anger and resentment and thereby make sure that the needs of the wealthy and powerful are always put before the needs of regular people. In other words, I do my best, I make a difference in my own small way, and I’m not a shill.

  14. Rod Dreher’s CrunchyCon blog comments regarding his distaste for radio host Mark Levin is preposterous at best. It’s much ado about nothing, and if I may improve on Shakespeare in this sense, it is absolutely much ado about nothing. Dreher admits he doesn’t listen to talk radio a lot, yet in a fifteen minute pizza run and a he is able to size up Levin as a horrible moaning trashmouth shrill over his response to a woman caller who was completely satisfied to see the Obama administration shred the Constitution and flush away American liberties. Mark’s response to such idiocy was direct, tame and laughable at the same time.
    I have heard far worse and more often from three of the hens on ‘The View.’
    Dreher is a whiner without equal, regarding this matter, and should take the time to call in and question the host on what is really bothering him. I have listened, and called into the folks behind the microphones for many years and even wrote a book on talk radio of which I am immensely proud of.
    Mark Levin is an outspoken advocate for conservatism in the style of Ronald Reagan and is a devoted follower of the spirit and ideals our founding fathers set forth in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. He cannot be swayed or driven off truth from those principles. His steadfast resolve on conservative values is both intoxicating and welcome as proven by his rising audience numbers and the overwhelming success of his latest book; ‘Liberty and Tyranny’.
    Mark is compassionate with all callers and they phone in from all demographics, the very young, the new and nervous, and the ill informed, liberals and conservatives. He laughs at those on the far left lunatic fringe. What Mark does not hear within the confines of his underground bunker is the thunderous laughs from his audience.
    Mark defends his friends openly and admirably and stands up to bullies, virtues not in great abundance to those on the political right. Case in point, David Frum vs.Rush.
    Rod Dreher should make a point to listen to Mark Levin’s radio program more often. He will hear a host dump a caller or admonish a caller when their verbal outbursts invoke acts of malice towards our elected leaders, no matter what side of the aisle they happen to sit on.

  15. Bob says:

    I’m sure most know that Mark ofers his shows free to stream anytime or add to ipod (great for long trips!). Just go to and look for Audio Rewind.
    I fear that these heartfelt voices will be muted soon so I’m careful to save the Great Ones widdom.

  16. El Gordo says:

    “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.”
    Since Dreher is presumably not on the left (yet) why doesn´t he make sure that people think Wanda Sykes is the face of the Democrat Party and the liberal movement?
    I´ve heard there is video of the freakin President of the United States laughing along with her fevered rant about failing kidneys.

  17. El Gordo says:

    Yes, Levin can be abrasive at times (though he has nothing on a number of liberal media personalities in that respect; see previous comment). He has explained his reasons more than once on his show. It´s not my style – personally I think it would be more effective not to humiliate people (with an exception for the drunken libs who frequently call in using expletives and insults).
    On the other hand, Levin is able to explain current events from a conservative perspective better than almost anybody I know in the media. His “rants” are pulling law, history and anecdote together into a lucid, fact-filled thing of beauty and he does it every day.
    I´m sure Rod Dreher is a nice guy; and eager to prove it. But I don´t think he is doing more to convert people to conservatism than Levin is. Not by a long shot.

  18. Chris says:

    “I vaguely recall (and could be wrong) reading Sullivan is a gay atheist. What instrument does he play.”
    ?? Not going there.

  19. Zeke says:

    Re: the initial post
    Yes, because jokes about suicide are hilarious! How does one find a comment like that funny? How in the world is “I don’t understand why your husband doesn’t put a gun to his head” anything but hateful and offensive? Would you ever make such a ‘joke’ in person?

  20. El Gordo says:

    it´s not very funny, but neither was Wanda Sykes making a joke about Rush Limbaugh´s kidneys failing and Barack “Special Olympics” Obama laughed heartily about it. Won´t stop you from voting for the guy, right?

  21. Jim says:

    It never ceases to amaze me that people can listen to a talk show host who employs a call screener and is in total control of the environment in which he/she operates and find that talk show host to be brilliant when he/she vanquishes the pre-screened caller of an opposite ideology. If creeps such as Levin and Limbaugh, and for that matter, Randi Rhodes of the liberal ilk, were really brilliant minds they would be debating these issues against serious people using serious language not cheap shot jabs that provide crack like relief to like-minded dittoheads who can’t stand to listen to a serious debate on any issue. If Levin wasn’t a rude ill-mannered clown he wouldn’t have to act like one on the radio. Hiding behind a call screener and operating only in arenas where your points of view can go without serious challenge are cowardly acts, and Levin, Limbaugh and the like are simply that, cowards. Frankly, talk radio and the 24 hour cable news channels (Fox, CNN and MSNBC alike), are simply dumbing down the discussion of serious issues and needlessly polarizing the nation.

  22. Jon says:

    I don’t turn on the radio to be yelled at. Mark L is often right on the substantive issue at hand. But his use of verbal bullying instead of argument is tiresome. If he’s so brillant, why doesn’t he use that mind of his to pursuade – gain new converts – instead of yell. Only the weak-minded find that approach convincing.

  23. David Nieporent says:

    @El Gordo: “Since Dreher is presumably not on the left (yet) why doesn´t he make sure that people think Wanda Sykes is the face of the Democrat Party and the liberal movement?”
    Well, first, because it just won’t work; conservatives aren’t going to win moderate votes by saying “Look at the mean ol’ liberals over there.” Like John (“Reporting for duty”) Kerry trying to play tough, conservatives trying to play hypersensitive just isn’t convincing.
    Second, perhaps because Dreher cares more about ideas than about attack ads? Conservatives should win if they have the best ideas; they don’t deserve to win if their primary argument is, “Wanda Sykes is a liberal and she’s a loudmouthed, uncouth wench.” She is, obviously, but so what?

  24. El Gordo says:

    it´s not about “playing hypersensitive”. Think about it.
    Liberals want to delegitimize the conservative viewpoint. You can´t question a liberal´s motives, you can´t call a policy socialist no matter what they do and so on. Everything is “over the line”. When you are attacked that way, why would you not point out how the other side operates? It is only fair.
    We should try it before we conclude it doesn´t work. Especially those who are so sensitive about the tone on their own side. What´s the point of policing your own expression? The point of behaving well in public is to capture the high ground in the eyes of voters. You cannot do that if you will never counter the delegitimization efforts from the other side. Come 2010 and 2012, liberals will demonize even the nicest Republican if it serves them, as they did in the past.
    Second point: Dreher may care about ideas (so do I) but he did not talk about ideas, he said in effect that “Levin is a loudmouth, uncouth bastard.” One result is that the conservative base will never hear about his ideas.