Let me entertain you

Readability

Let me entertain you

A tweet today pointed me to the Dan Riehl, Ross Douthat, Mark Levin et/​al stuff. So lets talk about thinkers who are or are not entertainers.

Douthat dis­misses Levin as an enter­tainer say­ing that it is the only way to define Levin’s book and defend it.

There’s noth­ing wrong with appre­ci­at­ing these enter­tain­ers, admir­ing their suc­cess, and enjoy­ing the way they skewer peo­ple and causes you dis­like. But to insist that they’re also worth tak­ing seri­ously as polit­i­cal and intel­lec­tual actors in their own right, wor­thy of keynote speeches at CPAC and admir­ing reviews in high­brow jour­nals, is to make a cat­e­gory error that does no favors to the larger causes that you and they support.

Dan (the blog­ger least like what peo­ple expected at CPAC) Riehl hits Douthat as an enter­tainer as well:

The sum total of Douthat’s accom­plish­ment comes from writ­ing two books. That’s it. One can say any­thing one wants about them — but in point of fact, they are lit­tle more than enter­tain­ment for a mostly eggheaded bunch that enjoys talk­ing about the nuance around and within pol­i­tics with­out ever actu­ally hav­ing accom­plished much of anything.

Both Douthat and Riehl are right but I think both are miss­ing the point here, so lets take this backwards:

When Dan blogs I pre­sume he writes not only to express him­self but in the hope that oth­ers might find his writ­ing and ideas inter­est­ing enough to come back to read (If I’m wrong please cor­rect me). He writes with the hope that it may be enter­tain­ing enough on either an intel­lec­tual or gut level to get that tweet from Sissy Willis or a blog post by some­one else to get his thoughts and ideas out there. In other words he wants some­one to enter­tain his ideas.

The rel­e­vancy of that thought and it’s worth in terms of expres­sion come both from the meat of what he is say­ing and the response it gen­er­ates, thus the enter­tain­ment value of said thoughts are part of the dis­cus­sion of it is wor­thy emu­lat­ing or advanc­ing his positions.

Now I’ve met Dan once in pass­ing at CPAC but I don’t know Dan or how he makes his liv­ing but he is not to my knowl­edge depen­dent on his writ­ing for sup­port so if he fails to cause peo­ple to enter­tain his thoughts it’s no skin off his back.

As far as Ross I’ve never met him at all, I’ve not read his books, and only occa­sion­ally read his columns which frankly leave me cold. But he’s writ­ing for the NYT. He is paid to cover a niche, a con­ser­v­a­tive writer in a lib­eral paper. Just enough of a con­ser­v­a­tive to be called one but not enough of one to actu­ally risk chal­leng­ing the read­ers who are look­ing for affir­ma­tion over information.

Con­ser­v­a­tives and con­ser­v­a­tive thinkers are not his audi­ence. The times knows that he is not going to draw them and that’s not what he is paid for. His audi­ence is the cur­rent times read­er­ship and it’s cur­rent pub­lish­ing team. If he fails to gen­er­ate the proper buzz, the right reac­tion, to enter­tain he will be replaced.

I don’t know if he cares if his ideas are advanced. I don’t know what ideas he wants to advance or any. I don’t know if he needs this job to make a liv­ing, but he is where he is as long as he serves the pur­pose in ques­tion and not a moment longer. If he fails to sus­tain that pur­pose, he’s out.

Now onto Mark Levin. I haven’t read his book, I don’t lis­ten to his radio show, he’s louder than I like but when I’ve heard him he’s tended to talk sense. His argu­ments are strong enough that Mil­lions of copies of his book have been pur­chased and read and his ideas advanced. His pre­sen­ta­tion is strong enough that thou­sands of peo­ple lis­ten to him on the radio. The fact that they might also be enter­tained has no rel­e­vance on if his thoughts should be rejected, how­ever if he fails to get those lis­ten­ers his show will be off the air. This is a basic fact.

But Levin’s goal is two fold. He wants to make a liv­ing and he wants to advance a series of ideas. The com­bi­na­tion of said ideas and an enter­tain­ing pre­sen­ta­tion has allowed him to do this.

The enter­tainer argu­ment is most com­mon­alty used against Rush Lim­baugh. His job is to host a radio show and draw the great­est num­ber of lis­ten­ers pos­si­ble to max­i­mize the profit he can make sell­ing ads. He has done this bet­ter than any­one else. No seri­ous per­son denies this.

Rush also has a series of beliefs and ideas that he wants to advance. He has been very suc­cess­ful in this endeavor. No seri­ous per­son can claim he has not been.

Rush’s ideas are also seri­ous ideas offer­ing solu­tions for actual prob­lems. This is where cer­tain seri­ous peo­ple don’t DARE agree, not because it is not true, but because to acknowl­edge it imper­ils their own agendas.

Enter­tainer is not a bad word, to pre­tend it is rejects stump speak­ers who have made their case for hun­dreds of years and denies his­tory. The rejec­tion of that aspect of intel­lec­tual per­sua­sion is in my opin­ion sim­ply an aspect of pride and big­otry or sim­ply sour grapes.

For related stuff check out this post at SISU

A tweet today pointed me to the Dan Riehl, Ross Douthat, Mark Levin et/al stuff. So lets talk about thinkers who are or are not entertainers.

Douthat dismisses Levin as an entertainer saying that it is the only way to define Levin’s book and defend it.

There’s nothing wrong with appreciating these entertainers, admiring their success, and enjoying the way they skewer people and causes you dislike. But to insist that they’re also worth taking seriously as political and intellectual actors in their own right, worthy of keynote speeches at CPAC and admiring reviews in highbrow journals, is to make a category error that does no favors to the larger causes that you and they support.

Dan (the blogger least like what people expected at CPAC) Riehl hits Douthat as an entertainer as well:

The sum total of Douthat’s accomplishment comes from writing two books. That’s it. One can say anything one wants about them – but in point of fact, they are little more than entertainment for a mostly eggheaded bunch that enjoys talking about the nuance around and within politics without ever actually having accomplished much of anything.

Both Douthat and Riehl are right but I think both are missing the point here, so lets take this backwards:

When Dan blogs I presume he writes not only to express himself but in the hope that others might find his writing and ideas interesting enough to come back to read (If I’m wrong please correct me). He writes with the hope that it may be entertaining enough on either an intellectual or gut level to get that tweet from Sissy Willis or a blog post by someone else to get his thoughts and ideas out there. In other words he wants someone to entertain his ideas.

The relevancy of that thought and it’s worth in terms of expression come both from the meat of what he is saying and the response it generates, thus the entertainment value of said thoughts are part of the discussion of it is worthy emulating or advancing his positions.

Now I’ve met Dan once in passing at CPAC but I don’t know Dan or how he makes his living but he is not to my knowledge dependent on his writing for support so if he fails to cause people to entertain his thoughts it’s no skin off his back.

As far as Ross I’ve never met him at all, I’ve not read his books, and only occasionally read his columns which frankly leave me cold. But he’s writing for the NYT. He is paid to cover a niche, a conservative writer in a liberal paper. Just enough of a conservative to be called one but not enough of one to actually risk challenging the readers who are looking for affirmation over information.

Conservatives and conservative thinkers are not his audience. The times knows that he is not going to draw them and that’s not what he is paid for. His audience is the current times readership and it’s current publishing team. If he fails to generate the proper buzz, the right reaction, to entertain he will be replaced.

I don’t know if he cares if his ideas are advanced. I don’t know what ideas he wants to advance or any. I don’t know if he needs this job to make a living, but he is where he is as long as he serves the purpose in question and not a moment longer. If he fails to sustain that purpose, he’s out.

Now onto Mark Levin. I haven’t read his book, I don’t listen to his radio show, he’s louder than I like but when I’ve heard him he’s tended to talk sense. His arguments are strong enough that Millions of copies of his book have been purchased and read and his ideas advanced. His presentation is strong enough that thousands of people listen to him on the radio. The fact that they might also be entertained has no relevance on if his thoughts should be rejected, however if he fails to get those listeners his show will be off the air. This is a basic fact.

But Levin’s goal is two fold. He wants to make a living and he wants to advance a series of ideas. The combination of said ideas and an entertaining presentation has allowed him to do this.

The entertainer argument is most commonalty used against Rush Limbaugh. His job is to host a radio show and draw the greatest number of listeners possible to maximize the profit he can make selling ads. He has done this better than anyone else. No serious person denies this.

Rush also has a series of beliefs and ideas that he wants to advance. He has been very successful in this endeavor. No serious person can claim he has not been.

Rush’s ideas are also serious ideas offering solutions for actual problems. This is where certain serious people don’t DARE agree, not because it is not true, but because to acknowledge it imperils their own agendas.

Entertainer is not a bad word, to pretend it is rejects stump speakers who have made their case for hundreds of years and denies history. The rejection of that aspect of intellectual persuasion is in my opinion simply an aspect of pride and bigotry or simply sour grapes.

For related stuff check out this post at SISU