“All Talk” Radio

Every U.S. election cycle, Mark Levin, the most intelligent and politically knowledgeable of the major conservative radio hosts, has warned that if the Republican Party establishment dared to foist another one of its anti-conservative, “bipartisan appeal” nominees on the grassroots voters yet again, then boy oh boy it would be almost, just about, nearly time to take a serious look at maybe thinking of starting the conversation about getting the ball rolling on a prospective discussion of considering a new, truly conservative third party option…next time, of course, because this election is just too important to let the Democrats win by walking away from the GOP poster child this time. But man, if the establishment hacks think they’re going to pull this fast one on us again in the next cycle, they’d better just watch out!

And every election cycle, Levin ends up screaming at any of his listeners who dare to ask him on air whether it’s time to consider giving up on the GOP establishment and trying to build something new. In other words, for all his bluster and invective, he invariably ends up carrying water for the establishment, without fail, world without end, amen.

In 2016, during the GOP primaries, Levin supported Ted Cruz, but tried to keep his options open by carefully buying into the establishment’s (and his radio network’s) official line that Donald Trump was a real outsider who was shaking things up — although he was not, as Levin’s remnants of conscience forced him to add, a principled conservative. When things got heated in the final months of the process, and people started analyzing the Trump fraud in detail, and explaining with evidence how clearly Trump was a McConnell puppet and the establishment’s shiny object meant to divert grassroots conservative attention away from the more genuine Tea-Party-friendly candidates, Levin was eager to cite these arguments, to use them on air, and to link them for the benefit of his website visitors and Facebook followers. I know this well, because I was one of the writers he repeatedly linked and cited in those days. 

However, when Trump’s nomination became inevitable, Levin turned, as usual, into a staunch defender of, and attack dog for, the GOP establishment’s pick. Trump was where the money was in conservative commentary. Levin is, in the end, only in it for the money — I didn’t believe that before 2016, but I know it now — so he did what he had to do to remain economically viable as a talk radio host: He transformed himself, over the course of a couple of confused and confusing months, from a man who said smart things in a way that would appeal to restless people into a man who said stupid things merely to appease stupid people.

And so we have Levin today, claiming that the Democrats’ current impeachment effort is a violation of the Constitution, and then suggesting that the only way to stop this unconstitutionality is for Republicans to present articles of impeachment against any future Democrat president. In other words, his answer to what he claims is illegal activity is to commit more illegal activities.

They must be investigated over and over again, follow exactly the Schiff-Nadler procedures, the Nancy Pelosi process. It must be done. I know it sounds painful. I had a caller say to me the other day when I said that it was disingenuous, that it shows that we’re no better than them. No, that’s wrong. It shows we must defeat this internal Fifth Column enemy. And they must understand that we have the willingness to do it so they don’t pull this again because otherwise, this is the precedent set in place now. Republicans will be rollovers for the rest of their time and Democrats will be bulldogs. We can’t allow that.

“We” equals “Republicans.” Does anyone care that Mark Levin has just made an explicit statement that, after all those years of cultivating the reputation of an anti-establishment constitutionalist, he is in truth nothing but a Republican establishment mouthpiece? Does anyone care that after all those supposed warnings and threats and attacks against McConnell, and even, until the sudden flip in 2016, against Trump, it turns out that Levin (like his cohorts Limbaugh and Hannity) is and was merely playing a game — for money and fame — in which he would keep the “grassroots” or “Tea Party” movement safely in the pen for the GOP in perpetuity by pretending to represent their conservative principles and hopes of reform, only to rally the flock back to the GOP fold every election, right on cue, with the old bait-and-switch “next time” routine?

Conservative talk radio, even at its heights, has turned out to be exactly that: all talk radio — in fact a GOP establishment subsidiary with no real function but to keep the wayward constitutionalist faction of the party in line, precisely by pretending to be out there at the “drain the swamp” rallies with them, even to be leading those rallies, thereby providing a socially palliative catharsis for the grassroots’ disgust with the status quo, but in a safely virtual fashion, which is to say in a way that presents no real threat in practice to the perpetual reign of the old boys club. 

Trump is everything these so-called conservative talkers, Levin most of all, used to rail against. He is a fraud, an anti-constitutional, anti-conservative, progressively-inclined milquetoast-authoritarian who knows how to talk down to the grassroots in a way that cultivates their dreams of “making America great again,” which in fact he has neither any intention of doing nor any idea how to do.

The only difference between the radio fakers’ embrace of Trump and their pseudo-reluctant embrace of every other Republican establishment prop is that this prop is so much easier for them to embrace, because unlike the vaguely respectable and middle-of-the-road Romney or Bush, this one is a brash and unmannerly blowhard who actually fools millions of emotionally desperate and intellectually tribal followers with his empty talk. Just as they do.

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