Mark Levin, who I’ve known for a long time, he has said some awful things about me. He declared this minor war on National Review, which I find baffling. He’s constantly ripping into my friend Steve Hayes. But at the end of the day, look, even if you’re willing to concede all the stuff Friedersdorf does about Mark Levin, the problem is that Mark Levin – his myriad talents and successes notwithstanding – is not the pope of conservatism.
And the reality is that very very few people listen to Mark Levin who don’t already agree with Mark Levin. The idea that Mark Levin is doing some profound damage to the country or the conservative movement rests on the idea that there are all these liberals tuning in who would otherwise be persuaded by Bill Buckley, but instead are being turned off by Mark. I don’t buy the logic of it.
My position on the conservative movement is that different people need to do different things. As I put it in that C-Span interview, it’s not the best analogy, but if you’ve got to tear down a house and replace it with another one, you need some guys with sledgehammers and earth movers, those are the people like Levin and Glenn Beck, some of those guys. But you also need people who do the fine carpentry and detail work. The way Bill Buckley or George Will or Charles Krauthammer might, or the guys at the Claremont Review of Books. It’s like a symphony. You need the string instruments and you need the percussion.
And there are all these people who think it’s up to conservatives to get rid of the percussion section because it’s too loud. And I don’t buy that. I think you need some people whose job it is to buck up and be cheerleaders for our own side. And you need some people who are going to be kind of Jesuitical proselytizers for conservatism, and go out among the masses and try to convert them.
And you need everybody in between. And I know I’m mangling and mixing my metaphors with reckless abandon here – there are people who love Ann Coulter because Ann is fantastic at getting conservative audiences to laugh and get revved up. And I think Ann is great at that stuff and she should be celebrated for it. But she’s not very good at going into an audience with a lot of moderates and middle-of-the-roaders and people sitting on a fence, and converting them to conservatism. She pushes people who aren’t already convinced to the other side. That doesn’t mean we should denounce Ann Coulter. It does mean that maybe we shouldn’t send her into audiences where she isn’t the right person to go there. That’s fine, just like we shouldn’t send David Brooks or David Gergen, heaven forfend, to a meeting of CPAC. You wouldn’t send one of those guys into CPAC and come out with some sort of platish, one the one hand, on the other hand kind of talk. You would send Ann Coulter into CPAC, and Ann Coulter would clean their clock with that sort of thing. But everyone has got different talents, and you use them for different things.
– Jonah Goldberg, in conversation with D.R. Tucker