Conor has a tale to tell. What strikes me is that talk radio, even more than the blogosphere, can promote ugly and inflammatory discourse in ways that even its purveyors find hard to control. The medium rewards certainty and polarization and rhetorical excess. And when an entire political tradition - conservatism - gets reinvented and framed by a single medium more powerfully than any other, it may acquire a hue and tone that becomes increasingly unattractive to people sane enough not to think about politics all the time. As Conor notes, this is a problem. So too is the tendency to avoid engaging arguments and invoking the authoritah of popularity. Here's classic Levin:
“I don’t know Dreher and as best I can tell, most nobody does ... Ok, let’s debate your point Conor. I told the caller she way extremely annoying. That is what any sensible person would have understood the comment to mean. Now, you don’t like it. You don’t like the way I said it. So what? If you were a dear friend or someone I knew and admired, I might think about it. But you are none of those things. I don’t know who you are and I don’t care if you don’t like it. My purpose was not to win over converts or represent the Republican Party. It was to dispatch this caller as I chose to. As for appealing to people, if I say I have a very large following in broadcast and print media, the likely response would be, “well, what does that have to do with the substance of my criticism.” So, you will have created your own maze of logic by shifting points."
Sigh. But Levin is the hottest item on the "right" since Beck.