By Jonathon Van Maren
The first thing to note about Tucker Carlson is that when he’s on stage and riffing on his irritations, he is hilarious. He began his keynote speech at the National Conservatism conference in Washington, D.C. on Monday by rejecting Rusty Reno’s laudatory introduction of him and noting that as someone—he couldn’t remember who—once said, “in the end, all graves go unvisited.” He then cleared his throat and announced that he’d just come back from Maine, where he’d decided to go off nicotine for the first time in 36 years (his consumption of nicotine gum is legendary) and thus had probably forgotten most of his speech, which was advertised in the program as a lecture titled “Big Business Hates Your Family.”
The second thing is that his speeches are a stream-of-consciousness collection of observations that kept those in the press gallery frantically typing to keep track of his train of thought, wondering if perhaps the manic media commentator has ADHD. When Carlson isn’t in front of a camera, his speaking style is relentlessly self-deprecatory, frequently disorganized, and interrupted by explosions of laughter followed by a question posed with a knowing grin: “Know what I mean?” Usually, the audience knew precisely what he meant. He began by noting that he could see quite a few people in the audience—presumably members of the conservative establishment—who didn’t like him, and welcoming them to heckle whenever they saw fit.