the ballad of RSM
Worried that conservatives will really make a roaring comeback? Read Robert Stacy McCain, and be assuaged.
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.
Something tells me Rod wouldn’t actually be too enamored of giving the Drive-Time Weather Forecast brought to you by Pep Boys everyday. Could be wrong.
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.
I’d say that for McCain to disdain Dreher is for him to sneer at someone who has succeeded at something he’s never tried, namely writing with integrity, moral seriousness and clarity of vision.
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.
But, of course, this is also the specialty of Robert Stacy McCain, and as Sonny Bunch was once so kind as to scold me, he has made a life and a career of it. And this, once again, is the central contradiction of the movement conservative pundit, men who regularly mock nerdy philosophizers when they are, in fact, nerdy philosophizers. Robert Stacey McCain isn’t, actually, some character from a Bruce Springsteen video. He’s a writer and thinker, a guy who pals around at Washington magazine parties and think tank frou-fras. He is most assuredly not one of the Ordinary Americans he is here glamorizing. This was the glaring idiocy of the Sarah Palin boosters within the conservative intelligentsia from last year, people decrying liberal elitists when in every material way, they themselves resembled those liberal elitists far more than they resembled what they believed Palin represented. It takes a special lack of self-knowledge to write an insidery, navel-gazing post about how much you hate navel-gazing insiders, but then, it takes a special lack of self-knowledge to regularly decry intellectualism underneath a quote from Arthur Koestler.
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
I’m not kidding, the guy actually wrote this in a blog post. Click the link and be amazed.
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.
But not Robert Stacy McCain! No! In between writing for The American Spectator and attending tasteful luncheons with people from the Brookings Institute, he leads a life that is totally street. I’m talking straight hood, son.
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.
But not McCain! No! McCain chews diamonds and shoots pure lightening out of his urethra! McCain plays hockey against gorillas and once arm wrestled the Pope. I once saw McCain chug a keg of Milwaukee’s Best and then fill out a 1040 form. (Not even the EZ version!) McCain slings more dope in a morning than B.I.G. did his whole goddamn life, and somehow, for McCain, that’s, like, the most conservative shit ever. McCain’s American flag has a smaller American flag that flies from it, and he has a harem of Klingon women to give him sexual favors. McCain snorts Clorox and when he gets pulled over, he karate slaps the cop and gives him the ticket.
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.
Many of the Ordinary Americans I see also naturally admire ranch dipping sauce for pizza, paying voluntary taxes called the lottery, and Ryan Seacrest. There are many qualities that some Ordinary Americans have that I have little but disdain for. That’s the simple truth about the way I often feel, and there’s no need to pretty it up or pretend. But then, there are many Ordinary Americans that have lots of qualities I admire. I’m just not willing to engage in self-promotion in the guise of giving it up for “the common man,” or to ascribe to most people virtues they simply don’t possess, because I think I’m making some sort of salient political point. Actual respect for great masses of people, after all, entails recognizing that there’s few insults greater than patronizing to them with “jes folks” pablum, or over-the-top praise from people who are not like them and never will be. Among the attitudes I do see on a fairly wide-spread basis, by the way, one bit of Ordinary American-ness, is a rabid antipathy towards people who pretend to be something their not. Ordinary American or faggy liberal elitist, nobody likes a phony.
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.
That depends. Does Mark Levin succeed by being paid to voice his dumbass opinions? Indeedidly do. Is he succeeding politically? No. By the way, Rod Dreher and Conor Friedersdorf have achieved success independently, by their own merit and relentless labor, but McCain is still entitled to strike feebily in their direction. This is America, after all.
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.
Get a room, dude, I’m blushing here.