In the run-up to Delaware's Republican Senate primary, conservative media figures noticed that their colleagues are "lazy and unfair" "idiot[s]" and "mouthpieces for the Republican establishment" who engage in "ranting, not serious arguments" and whose commentary consists of "smear tactics," "mischaracterizations," "exaggerated claims," "slander," and "attributing sinister or corrupt motives to those who disagree with them."
Conservatives describe conservative coverage of Castle-O'Donnell race: "Smear tactics," "a disgrace," "a mess," "lazy," "unfair"
Levin: Weekly Standard's John McCormack is "not really a reporter," he's "a 'regurgitator.'" In response to a story about Christine O'Donnell by The Weekly Standard's John McCormack, conservative radio host and National Review Online blogger Mark Levin wrote the following on his Facebook page:
The Bob Woodward of his time (that would be McCormack) has spent the past week or so repeating talking points provided to him or lifted from other sites or going through a lawsuit O'Donnell filed against a former employer. But he's not really a reporter. He's a "regurgitator," if you will.
Levin to McCormack: "I think you're an ass." In an e-mail published in The Weekly Standard, Mark Levin responded to an inquiry from McCormack soliciting a response to McCormack's reporting on O'Donnell:
Levin's response, in full:
Lol. I think you're an ass. You can quote me.
Sent from my iPhone
Mark Levin's attack on John McCormack is a disgrace. And I say that as someone who has considered Mark a friend for 15 years. John McCormack is a reporter and a very good one. He was doing his job. The material for his two articles on Christine O'Donnell came primarily from an interview he conducted with her and a lawsuit she filed.
Is Levin suggesting that conservatives shouldn't also be reporters? Or that we leave newsgathering to the mainstream media? I understand that Mark supports O'Donnell, and good conservatives can differ on the better candidate in this race. But it's bizarre and more than a little disappointing that a reporter doing his job would provoke such an over-the-top, ad-hominem attack on a reporter.
Doug Ross: "Mike Castle's Beltway cocktail buddies at The Weekly Standard have pulled The New York Times' old Al-Qaqaa trick." Conservative blogger Doug Ross wrote:
Now Mike Castle's Beltway cocktail buddies at The Weekly Standard have pulled The New York Times' old Al-Qaqaa trick: publishing a lengthy, seemingly "scathing" assault on Christine O'Donnell that contains two allegations:
• O'Donnell once sued an ex-employer for gender discrimination.
• O'Donnell is said to have claimed she took classes at Princeton.
Now, I'll tell you what Christine O'Donnell didn't do:
• She didn't vote for the DISCLOSE Act, the goal of which is to suppress free speech by conservatives, while leaving unions and other Democrat support groups unscathed.
• She didn't vote with the most liberal Democrats over the issue of guns and earn an F from the NRA.
• She didn't vote with Barack Obama 60% of the time including for Cap-and-Trade.
No, Christine O'Donnell didn't do any of those things. Rep. Mike Castle (R-INO) -- who The Weekly Standard calls a "moderate" -- did.
If by "moderate", they mean that Castle doesn't believe in the Bill of Rights' First, Second or Tenth Amendments then, yes, Castle is a moderate.
The Weekly Standard really hurts its credibility and reputation with tripe like this. As Erick Erickson tweeted earlier, "Sorry folks, but if we need Mike Castle for a Senate majority, we do not need a Senate majority."
Moreover, Hinderaker links to a few of his buddies as proof that I am wrong about this or that, so now we have a full circle-nerd going on with Mirengoff, Hinderaker, and their friends.
I never gave these boys much attention in the past and I honestly think they contribute very little to the debate. They're essentially mouthpieces for the Republican establishment. They step out now and then, as best I can tell. That's fine, but they ought not pretend that they're deep thinkers or even coherent thinkers. They're a mess.
Must be nice to sit on your ass in some law office in Washington lecturing tea party activists and others with such dripping arrogance and ignorance. We're confronting the most radical administration certainly in my lifetime, and Mirengoff blows off the grassroots movement that is doing more to bring constitutional government back to this nation than any other. No, all candidates are not perfect. That's not the nature of politics. And spewing the opposition research found on other sites, leaked in part by a party to a lawsuit involving the conservative candidate, is lazy and unfair. In fact, I notice nowhere in his superficial post does Mirengoff point out any establishment Republicans with defects, with temper issues, with Keating Five issues, etc., etc. Apparently there's one test for conservative candidates and another for establishment Republican candidates. Despite all his defects, McCain was backed by National Review. How about Mirengoff? Who did he support?
Mirengoff: "Ranting, not serious analysis, seems to [be] Levin's thing." Mirengoff wrote:
What seems to have set Levin off is this statement with which I concluded my comparative analysis of competing election strategies: "It's disconcerting to realize that many of our activists aren't even as astute as the likes of Markos Moulitsas." Levin responded, "Markos Moulitsas is a reprehensible menace. Mirengoff knows it."
But one can be a reprehensible menace and still have formulated a more astute political strategy than folks who are not reprehensible menaces; in fact the more astute an adversary is, the more menacing (see Saul Alinsky). So instead of flailing about and misstating fact after fact (many of which pertain only to me, not the issue at hand), Levin would have better served by taking a serious look at the left's successful approach to gaining political power when it was in a situation similar to the one conservatives now confront.
Unfortunately, ranting, not serious analysis, seems to Levin's thing.
Mirengoff: "Levin's response consists mostly of a series of misstatements about me and misrepresentations of what I argued." Mirengoff wrote:
Earlier this week, Mark Levin responded to one of my posts about the Delaware Senate primary. In that post, I noted that, in 2006, leftist activists supported less than reliably liberal Democratic candidates like Ben Nelson and were rewarded for their flexibility with the passage of Obamacare. I then argued that, by supporting Christine O'Donnell in the Delaware Senate primary despite the likelihood (demonstrated by polls) that she would lose the general election, whereas her centrist opponent in the primary would likely win, certain Republican activists are being less astute than leftists like Markos Moulitsas were in 2006.
Levin's response consists mostly of a series of misstatements about me and misrepresentations of what I argued. The misstatements undermine his ad hominem arguments. The use of straw men undermines his more substantive ones.
The misstatements begin in the first paragraph, where Levin erroneously says I once was a lawyer from Minnesota. They end, less trivially, in a brief update where he purports to explain my anti-O'Donnell position by claiming that Power Line supported Arlen Specter over Pat Toomey.
Hinderaker: "It is disheartening to see Levin playing so fast and loose with the facts." Hinderaker wrote:
Mark Levin has done some great work for the conservative cause, so it is disheartening to see him playing so fast and loose with the facts. There is an unfortunate tendency among some on the right to adopt the view that no one is a *real* conservative except for them and a handful of their friends or followers. This sort of divisive, exclusionary attitude is a sure ticket to perpetual minority status, and should be avoided by all conservatives.
Levin: Powerline's Mirengoff engaged in "smear tactics against O'Donnell." Levin wrote:
I am more than ready to debate Mirengoff on substance, politics, and philosophy. But his smear tactics against O'Donnell and the Tea Party movement generally expose an arrogance and shallowness of thought that makes such a debate difficult. He'll pick to death, he'll spin and divert, but he won't engage on substance.
Mirengoff: Levin guilty of "exaggerated claims." Mirengoff wrote:
Mark Levin attempts to bob-and-weave around some of the inaccuracies that plagued his initial response to my post about the role of some conservative activists in the Delaware Senate primary. Other inaccuracies he simply ignores.
I'll leave it to our readers to assess Levin's efforts. I will point out, however, that Levin has introduced a new factual error on the core issue of Mike Castle's voting record.
My initial post criticized Levin for exaggerated claims about the extent to which Castle casts liberal votes. I noted that his ACU rating is 52 percent.
Patterico: "Levin's post is packed with mischaracterizations. Just chock full of them." Commenting on the exchange between Levin and Mirengoff, conservative blogger Patterico wrote:
Levin's post is packed with mischaracterizations. Just chock full of them. Expressed with the dripping arrogance of someone who apparently feels that, because he is better known than Mirengoff, he is entitled to say whatever he feels like about him -- and the facts be damned.
I suppose caring about the facts probably makes me an inauthentic conservative in Mark Levin's eyes. I don't care. I'll go with the facts, every time.
Patterico: Levin has "elitist and arrogant attitude," "botched the facts badly." In a follow-up post describing Levin's writing on the Castle-O'Donnell race, Patterico wrote:
Raise your hand if you have written a book. If your hand isn't up, Mark Levin doesn't need to hear from you. You're just a "loser with a keyboard."
Remember: my criticism of Levin had nothing whatsoever to do with his position on the Delaware Senate primary. I have my opinion about that, and others have theirs. Reasonable people can disagree about this election. But facts are not opinions -- and Levin botched the facts badly in his post about Paul Mirengoff. And that was my beef with Levin.
I criticized Levin because he said that Paul Mirengoff supported Specter over Toomey, when Mirengoff actually supported Toomey over Specter. Because Levin said Lindsey Graham is Mirengoff's "brand of Republican" when Mirengoff has said Graham is his least favorite Republican senator. Because he said Mirengoff supported "Harriet Meyers" (he means "Miers") when Mirengoff ultimately opposed her.
I criticized Levin because he misrepresented Mirengoff's post so badly it was as if he hadn't bothered to read it -- and Levin seemed to think he had the right to engage in such distortions because Levin is famous and Mirengoff is not ("I don't know Paul Mirengoff and I suspect virtually none of you do").
Where have we heard this sort of elitist and arrogant attitude before? Why, yes: in Big Media.
Levin: Patterico is a "jackass," "what an idiot." Responding to Patterico, Levin wrote:
This jackass jumps in here: http://patterico.com/2010/09/12/odonnell-leads-castle-in-poll/
He's a prosecutor in California who, in 2005, wrote: "I am conservative but not doctrinally so: for example, I am pro-gay rights; in favor of a "beyond all possible doubt" standard for death-penalty cases (and am very concerned about innocents on Death Row); anti-Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, and other conservatives whose rantings give sensible conservatives a bad name."
Well, how thoughtful. How wise. How -- what an idiot.
He has not been closely following this debate. He refers to the Mirengoff post and my response and then Mirengoff's reaction. I have posted since then, which he does not link to, having now thoroughly informed himself about "the facts." This isn't about "real conservatives" and whatever. Nor did I say so. Nor can this ass point to where I said so. But it is a battle between a very liberal GOP House member and a Tea Party candidate, i.e., there are clear distinctions of substance. If this ass can't figure that much out, how the hell can he be a prosecutor? The standards must be much lower since I worked at DOJ (I know, he's a state prosecutor, great.)
Hinderaker: Riehl's claim that Mike Castle voted to impeach Bush "is absurd." In response to a ridiculous claim from blogger Dan Riehl that Castle voted "for Kucinich's resolution to impeach Bush," Powerline's John Hinderaker wrote:
The madness continues, as activists who support Christine O'Donnell in the Delaware Senate primary have stepped up their attacks on Mike Castle by alleging that he voted to impeach President Bush. That will come as a surprise to those who wonder how they missed such a vote, but Dan Riehl assures us that it is true. Not only that, he explicitly ties this claim to radio talk show host Mark Levin's attack on us; he titles his post "Paging Powerline." He says that he would "like to hear from Powerline as to why they are supporting someone who signed on to such 'moonbattery' and did such damage to our country."
First of all, Riehl's claim--which he says may have originated with Mark Levin--is absurd on its face. The House of Representatives never voted on whether to impeach President Bush. The vote that Riehl and other anti-Castle pundits refer to is this one, to refer Dennis Kucinich's impeachment resolution to the House Judiciary Committee. That motion passed; obviously it was not an impeachment resolution, or we would have had an impeachment trial. Castle was one of 24 Republicans who voted for the referral resolution, along with conservative stalwarts like Peter King, Kevin Brady, Ralph Hall, and others.
Patterico: Claim by Riehl and Levin about Castle voting "to impeach Bush" is "last-minute slander." Patterico wrote:
The last-minute slander on Mike Castle, a candidate for whom I feel zero affection, is that he voted to impeach Bush.
John Hinderaker shows why this is nonsense here.
Dan Riehl was pushing this crap for much of the day. He now has updates to his posts, that pretty much negate the entire substance of his posts.
I wonder if Dan is embarrassed to have jumped on a false slander of a Republican candidate, just because he didn't like that candidate.
Riehl says it all may have started with Mark Levin: "I believe Mark Levin may have broken this on his show."
Levin? Engaged in falsehoods? I refuse to believe it! (But then, I am a jackass and a moron, according to Mark Levin. So why listen to me?)
Geraghty: Jeffrey Lord's pro-O'Donnell article "must be the stupidest article in the history of the American Spectator." National Review's Jim Geraghty responded to an article by American Spectator's Jeffrey Lord:
In what must be the stupidest article in the history of the American Spectator, I've officially been named and denounced as part of "The Ruling Class." Well, now that this has been clearly established, the first order of business under my rule is everyone stop calling me and denouncing me as part of the Ruling Class.
Geraghty: Pro-O'Donnell bloggers are "attributing sinister or corrupt motives to those who disagree with them." Geraghty wrote:
Mark Levin griped about Paul Mirengoff; Mirengoff responds, and John Hinderacker adds a footnote, "Mark Levin has done some great work for the conservative cause, so it is disheartening to see him playing so fast and loose with the facts. There is an unfortunate tendency among some on the right to adopt the view that no one is a *real* conservative except for them and a handful of their friends or followers. This sort of divisive, exclusionary attitude is a sure ticket to perpetual minority status, and should be avoided by all conservatives."
Notice which side in this debate adopts the left's tactic of going straight to motive, and attributing sinister or corrupt motives to those who disagree with them. If you don't like Mike Castle, or he's too much of a squish for you, I can't blame you. If you prefer Christine O'Donnell because her stances are closer to yours, your logic is perfectly sensible.
If you listen to the pro-O'Donnell folks, the two words most often cited are "principle" and either "ideology" or "conservative." I would be a fool to argue that ideology shouldn't be important when writing to a conservative audience. Indeed, perhaps the pro-Castle folks put too much stock on electability; a well-known candidate that runs primarily on "inevitability" deserves to be called insufferable. (In retrospect, Mike Castle should have debated O'Donnell, both as a political tactic and as for the health of the party.
Levin: Geraghty is "carrying lots of water" for Mike Castle. In response to Geraghty's posts on O'Donnell, Levin wrote:
Jim Geraghty over at National Review Online is now clearly in the Mike Castle camp, or at least carrying lots of water for him.