The Corner

What About Mark!?!

I’m already getting an avalanche of angry e-mails from Mark Levin fans complaining bitterly about the absence of any mention of him in my Post article, assuming (wrongly) that this oversight means I am critical or dismissive. I’m tempted to refer them to my favorite insider lightbulb joke: How many Straussians does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: None — the light is made conspicuous by its absence. Let me say it clearly here: Mark is a very bright light.

The omission of Levin from my piece is conspicuous, but was a combination of deliberation and space limitations. Mark is a special case, and I could have chosen him instead of Glenn Beck for my approving case study at the end, but I decided to go with Beck because he’s in everyone’s cross-hairs at the moment, and also because I don’t think Mark needs to learn anything from me. I think Liberty and Tyranny is an excellent book, exactly the kind of book we need that explains in a serious way how liberalism has unraveled the Constitution thread-by-thread.  

But, would Liberty and Tyranny have sold over 1 million copies if the author were merely Mark Levin of the Landmark Legal Foundation rather than Mark Levin the national talk radio host? Doubtful I think. The same might be said of Joe Scarborough’s Last Best Hope, which you’d have never heard of if it was by merely a former Florida congressman.) Again, this is not a knock on Mark; I was delighted when the book shot out of the gate in the spring, taking it as a sign that that right-minded people around the country were perking up and wanted arguments. I hope it sells 5 million more copies. It reminded me of a sign in the late 1970s that the right was rousing itself — the surprise 1978 bestseller by former Treasury Secretary William Simon, A Time for Truth. But again, it wasn’t necessary for Simon to be a media figure for that book to become huge. Today being a media figure seems to be the pre-requisite; I doubt the equivalent of Simon’s book today would emerge the same way.

So, sorry Levin fans (and there are obviously others I could have mentioned and calibrated as well), but do not jump to the wrong conclusion here.

Steven F. Hayward — Stephen F. Hayward is a senior resident scholar at the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and the author of a two-volume political history, The Age of Reagan.

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