En route to pick up a tux for a wedding I’m attending this weekend, I flipped on the radio in my mother’s car, found it tuned to the AM dial, and heard a host so petulant that he is an outlier even on talk radio.
I’ve transcribed the offending segment so that you can judge it for yourself before I reveal the host’s name.
CALLER: I just wanna say, Obama is a lot smarter than you folks give him credit for. You guys were on a roll, I have to admit, with all those tea parties. Everything was rolling along, the Republicans were gaining momentum. And he managed to change your entire conversational focus. And you let those three hundred thousand people —
HOST: My God. He’s so smart. His own party voted against him on Guantanamo Bay. How stupid was that, Cindy? His own party refused to fund the closing of Guantanamo Bay.
CALLER. Yeah but you know he can just move those people over here anyway. He’s already doing it with the one guy.
HOST: Yeah, sure, he can do whatever he wants. Let me ask you a question. Why do you hate this country?
CALLER: No, I love this country.
HOST: (angrily shouting) I SAID WHY DO YOU HATE MY COUNTRY! WHY DO YOU HATE MY CONSTITUTION? WHY DO YOU HATE MY DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE?
You just said it. He can blow off Congress. He can do whatever he wants, right?
CALLER: Well, he seems to, he just moved (inaudible).
HOST: Answer me this, are you a married woman? Yes or no?
HOST: Well I don’t know why your husband doesn’t put a gun to his temple. Get the hell out of here.
The host is weirdly blind to the irony that he himself thinks a wartime president possesses the power to house detainees where he sees fit, at least if the President asserts that his chosen policy is needed to keep America safe. As we all know, President Obama thinks that Gitmo is a PR disaster that helps Al Qaeda recruit more terrorists, and therefore makes us less safe. So by the host’s own standard of executive power—not to mention Dick Cheney’s standard — President Obama possesses the inherent power to close Gitmo, what Congress says be damned. (That isn’t my position, mind you — because I reject the Cheney/Fox News/talk radio vision of the wartime executive, I think that Congress can thwart Obama’s plans.)
But I didn’t flag that excerpt to talk about its substance. I took the time to type it out for one bit, this time with the host’s name attached:
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.
That isn’t merely beneath a gentleman. It is the kind of thing that a decent man doesn’t say to a woman, under any circumstances. Awful as it is on the page, it came across even worse on the air, hearing the hateful, angry inflections. Forget the fact that this isn’t the way forward for the conservative movement — this just isn’t the way any person should behave.