Stephen Hayes: Why Is Mark Levin Focused on Petty Personal Squabbles — And Getting the Facts Wrong in the Process?
Mark Levin has posted some criticism of my Marco Rubio piece on his Facebook page. The story was a rather straightforward look at the Rubio campaign – from the inside. To the extent that his post is about anything at all, it seems to be a complaint that the piece fails to mention Levin’s endorsement of Rubio. It’s hard to understand why — in the face of trillion [dollar] deficits, growing national security threats and a president who seems ill-equipped to [deal] with either — Levin is focused on something so petty. But his distortions require a response.
Levin writes: “First, when did the Weekly Standard endorse Rubio? Second, the first nationally syndicated talk show to endorse Rubio was … mine.” First, for the few people other than Mark Levin who actually care about such things, Laura Ingraham endorsed Rubio before he did.
Hayes goes on to explain that the Weekly Standard doesn’t endorse candidates — but points to a host of favorable articles and statements about Rubio made by himself and others from the Weekly Standard.
I have a different question. I see commenters on sites like mine saying that we need to move past the whole O’Donnell/Castle controversy. And, it does seem to be getting a little old, huh? Yet there are demagogues like Levin, together with certain bloggers who are desperate to get Levin’s attention, who seem content to pick at this scab, with no signs of letting up. Do their readers and listeners tell them to move on? I see little evidence of that.
Why would they be focused on something so petty as who endorsed Rubio first? Because they’re playing the I’m a more authentic conservative than you game.
The second they tell you that it’s all about the issues and not about the personalities, that’s when you know it’s all about the personalities. Namely, about how they are better than Stephen Hayes, or John McCormack, or Jim Geraghty, or Ace of Spades, or me, or any of the other writers whom they have chosen to label inauthentic.
Conservatives ought to be able to disagree without being at each other’s throats. And it is possible. Michelle Malkin, for example, endorsed O’Donnell, but explicitly said that she was not throwing conservatives overboard for disagreeing with her. I felt the same way about Michelle: I thought the candidate she was endorsing was dishonest and highly unlikely to win, but I also know that Michelle is no dummy. She knew the flaws of her candidate going in, and chose to endorse her despite the fact that the candidate wasn’t perfect — because she thought there were sound reasons to do so. Michelle and I can emerge from something like that respecting each other. Someone like Mark Levin, who twists the facts and plays the authenticity game? Not so much.
By the way, the example of Michelle is a good example of why I get upset at people who declare that the Tea Party generally, or Sarah Palin specifically, exhibited poor judgment or somehow cost us seats. I think this is ludicrous. Regardless of the specific effect of “the Tea Party,” it is precisely the spirit of the Tea Party that swept Republicans into office at historic levels, and that is focused on the important things like controlling spending and rolling back government. Palin didn’t blindly endorse the most conservative candidate in every race (see: DeVore vs. Fiorina) — instead, she did precisely what I would do: she made a calculation about who was the best candidate who might win, and endorsed that candidate. The fact that she and I might come to different conclusions about different races doesn’t mean her judgment is fatally flawed, or that the Tea Party cost us seats. It just means that we disagreed. Republicans are allowed to do that. Conservatives are allowed to do that.
I’m sick of the “I’m a more authentic conservative than you” shtick. When will people start to tell those who play it to grow up? Nobody cares who endorsed Rubio first, Mark Levin. We care about controlling spending and returning to constitutional principles. If you disappeared from the airwaves tomorrow, we’d still manage to do that — even though some of us never wrote a book! This isn’t about you. It’s about doing what’s right for the country.