The Spectacle Blog

Mark McKinnon’s Civility Dodge

By on 10.5.09 | 6:53PM

 It burst into flames! It burst into flames, and it's falling, it's crashing! Watch it! Watch it, folks! Get out of the way! Get out of the way! Get this, Charlie! Get this, Charlie! It's fire -- and it's crashing! It's crashing terrible! Oh, my, get out of the way, please! It's burning and bursting into flames, and the -- and it's falling on the mooring-mast. And all the folks agree that this is terrible, this is the, one of the worst catastrophes in the world. Ohhhhh! It's -- it's -- it's the flames, [indecipherable, 'enty' syllable] oh, four- or five-hundred feet into the sky and it ... it's a terrific crash, ladies and gentlemen. It's smoke, and it's flames now ... and the frame is crashing to the ground, not quite to the mooring-mast. Oh, the humanity ...
-- Radio announcer Herbert Morrison in a live broadcast as the zeppelin Hindenburg crashed and burned on May 6, 1937

To read Mark McKinnon over at the Daily Beast you would think he's a latter day Herbert Morrison and this year's Hindenburg is a bag of wind called "civility."

Ohhhhhhhhh the civility weeps McKinnon.

Can one weep if one is a crocodile? Crocodile tears, recall, are said to have been shed by these reptiles -- while busy eating their victims. In a word, the phrase means hypocrite.

Mr. McKinnon, a former aide to both George W. Bush and John McCain, is described by his former bosses as a man of "creativity" (Bush) and President McCain cites him as "almost a genius." Oops. President McCain is still Senator McCain so perhaps that's why the "almost" is in there.

Among Mr. McKinnon's activities these days (he announced in 2008 he wouldn't campaign against Obama) is as a columnist over at the left-leaning Daily Beast. From there he has issued his latest mournings for civility. His target this time is Mark Levin, the author of Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto and, famously these days, one of the top talk radio hosts in America.

Mr. McKinnon posits the usual yada-yada-yada, his schtick always being some version of the idea that conservative X is a "hate-monger." For this column he zeros in on Levin, who, stands accused by McKinnon of lacking civility.

The McKinnon column on Levin seems to have been essentially lifted with filler from the "Controversies and Criticism" section of Wikipedia. A heading that comes with a warning from Wikipedia itself that "undue weight" has been given to what, when one reads, are obviously contributions from people who clearly -- yes -- hate Mark Levin. No word from McKinnon on why its OK to hate Levin, because -- ooops! -- he hates Levin himself.

The problem here is that McKinnon has swallowed whole the notion trailed about for decades by the left that it's OK to let people get away wholesale with everything from abject racism to character assassination to outright lying -- if they're just nice about it! In other words, perhaps fitting for a PR guy, McKinnon's world is the ultimate triumph of form over substance.

In McKinnon's world, Sonia Sotomayor can use race as a reason to make decisions from the federal bench -- but joking about her weight (as Levin is said to have done by an anti-Levin Wikipedia contributor) is off limits. The National Organization for Women is defended by McKinnon against another alleged Levin joke -- but no word as to McKinnon's opinion on the civility of NOW falling silent as Bill Clinton's female targets came forward back in the nineties with charges ranging from sexual assault (Kathleen Willey) or, even more graphically, a rape charge from one-time Clinton supporter Juanita Broaddrick.

Which re-enforces the image that for all his so-called "creativity" and "genius " McKinnon simply is tone deaf or willfully ignorant of substance. A typical Mark Levin show is routinely spent illustrating issues from economics to history to constitutional law to politics and philosophy. One can only conclude that these issues either don't interest McKinnon or he simply would rather do PR.

But for whatever reason, it is way past time that this McKinnon argument be dispatched. If you preach a doctrine that judges should use race to make rulings from the federal bench (Sotomayor) -- but do it with sweet civility, you are still a racist. (Something Martin Luther King himself once noted.) If you use ugly appeals to class warfare (a favorite of another McKinnon client, the late Texas Governor Ann Richards) -- but are as sweet as apple pie while you ruthlessly divide and hurt people, egging them on to hate -- this is immorality, not civility,

Mark McKinnon, it seems, has a serious problem when it comes to civility and immorality that Mark Levin has never had.

Understanding when one is used to mask the other.

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