You can see why the issue would pose problems for the right. First, it threatens the self-image they've developed over the last year as opponents of the government-business nexus. Second, it's difficult to work out a free market response...Either way, government has to get involved at some step in the process. It almost seems like conservatives can't choose which form of government intervention to accept, so many of them just aren't choosing.I think this misunderstands the goals and incentives of what Ross Douthat has been dismissing as conservative "entertainment." Chait, and I think most liberal bloggers, aren't entertainers, certainly not primarily so. They are advocates for a particular type of politics and government. As such, they are interested in public policy issues because they believe those issues are important to the well-being of the nation. For entertainers, however, interest in an issue is going to be driven by the market, and the conservative market isn't apt to be interested in regulating (or not regulating) banks; it's interested in guns, and abortion, and religion, and various other hot-button issues. Health care mapped pretty well onto those issues; financial regulation, much less so. So it's not so much that there's no coherent position that conservatives could take; it's that the types of people who listen to Rush, watch Beck, and read NRO just aren't interested in this sort of thing. And we're talking about entertainers who may not know much about public policy, but give every indication of knowing their audience extremely well.
The other side of this, however, and where Douthat's classification runs into trouble, is that on the conservative side the "entertainers" are far more prominent than anyone else, and certainly far more prominent than what he calls "the elite world of pundits and intellectuals." In other words, what Rush and company talk about -- which is driven by what drives ratings and sells books -- then becomes the only thing that conservatives talk about. Moreover, as far as anyone can tell, there's just a lot of money to be had by being a conservative entertainer, which creates strong pressures on talented conservatives to be more Levin than Manzi, more Coulter than Friedersdorf, more Beck than Larison. And that leaves people such as Manzi or Larison or Bartlett or even Frum marginalized by people such as Lopez or McCarthy.
So it's a bit disingenuous for Ross Douthat to say that Mark Levin's book is just entertainment. He's correct...except that it's entertainment that's driving the party, entertainment that makes it hard for Republicans in Congress to acknowledge widely-understood facts about climate change, entertainment that drives the conservative conversation so that if there's no market, there's no conversation. And that, rather than the more general unpopularity of their position, is why there's little conservative talk about the banking bill: there just aren't enough abortions, guns, and gays involved.