The Corner

Mark Levin and the Big Picture

One of the pleasanter chores in my life is signing books. And you learn a little something about the people who read your books by what they ask you to write in them. The most common request I get is to write something on the order of, “Dear Caitlyn, your parents are giving you this book for your high-school graduation so that you’ll be ready for all the nonsense your professors will start throwing at you next year,” or, “Don’t believe everything you hear in college.” Apparently, my books frequently are given as graduation gifts, which pleases me very much. But the underlying issue is that parents are very worried about their children, particularly about their education.

Mark Levin doesn’t need my help selling books, but if you are one of those concerned parents, his forthcoming book, which bears the no-frills title Plunder and Deceit, should be on your reading list and in your children’s back-to-school basket. It is a bracing meditation on how federal policies are undermining the future of the generation currently in school—the awful education system, the mountain of debt and unfunded liabilities, the terrifying turn toward authoritarianism. He is particularly interesting on the subject of civil society and the ways in which political intrusion is undermining our most important institutions.

A few years back, I picked up his Ameritopia and was truly struck by it. There’s no way to write this without sounding like a snob, but the fact is that Levin is a lawyer, and as a rule modern American lawyers can’t write. (One of the reasons that our political language is so debased is that our political class is dominated by lawyers; “controlling legal authority” and all that.) With the notable exception of Antonin Scalia and a few contributors to these pages, contemporary lawyers are absolutely hostile to the English language, blind to its possibilities and immune to its beauty. Mark Levin writes beautifully, and he writes about important things. His Men in Black: How the Supreme Court Is Destroying America is one of the most useful and enjoyable books about the high court for the non-specialist (up there with Robert Bork’s The Tempting of America), and Plunder and Deceit is an excellent, engaging, engrossing survey of the damage done by Permanent Washington and its incompetent, self-serving denizens.

He is an interesting thinker, and those who know him only from his radio show might be surprised at just how far and fast he ranges when he is liberated from the daily news cycle and the headlines of the hour. His habitual approach to political questions—situating them within the ideas of the Founders and the constitutional order—is in fact far more suited to book-length argument than to minutes-long radio segments.

Yes, yes, sometimes he and I argue. He is worth disagreeing with.

(For the record, I’ve never met Mark Levin, though he’s had me on his show; we don’t have the same publisher or anything like that, and I’m not under any professional obligation to write nice things about his books. I just think you should read them.)

(Also: On my list of people who are lawyers and fine writers, there’s that other Levin, Mark-with-a-C Levin, of the Texas Public Policy Foundation and Right On Crime, a former Daily Texan colleague. Two Mar[c/k] Levins who are lawyers and top-shelf writers–what are the odds?)

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