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Is that you, John Wayne? Is this me?

February 27th, 2009 · 4 Comments

Huh.  So, a while back, I spoke at some length to a Washington Post reporter doing a piece about young conservatives feeling left out in the “Age of Obama,” what with all their peers caught up in Obamania and whatnot. I wasn’t able to be too helpful because—though I noted my many points of disagreement with Obama, and allowed that I find it rather creepy to have larger-than-life murals of the Dear Leader’s head staring down at me from buildings all over town—I’m not really “conservative,” and in fact, was pretty openly favoring an Obama victory this past cycle. I was a bit puzzled, then, to find this paragraph rather incongruously dropped into the story:

In a New York Times column last June, David Brooks wrote that a new commentariat of young conservative writers — such as Julian Sanchez, Megan McArdle and Will Wilkinson — has come of age “as official conservatism slipped into decrepitude . . . put off by the shock-jock rhetorical style of Ann Coulter.”

This is partly odd just because I’m not sure what it has to do with the rest of the piece. But mostly, it’s weird because Brooks mentioned a whole bunch of “right of center” scribblers (I suppose that might arguably fit me on a sufficiently loose definition), many of whom actually, you know, voted for John McCain.  But Megan, Will, and I were all Obama supporters, however reluctantly—and the author of the piece knew this. So, you know, it’s always nice to be mentioned in the Post,  but I’m not entirely sure what we’re doing there.

Addendum: As long as I’m on the topic, and since a lot of the bloggy reactions to this piece I’ve seen are snickering at how young wingers are all puttering around feeling sorry for themselves, I should add that when I say I spoke to the author, I mean I spoke to the author  a little over three weeks ago.  Now, obviously, if you’ve got it in your head that it would be interesting to do a story about how dejected and alienated young conservatives must be in Obamerica, and you’re willing to spend weeks fishing for anecdotes by phone or at Heritage intern happy hours, you’ll eventually accumulate enough quotations to hang a story on. The story might even be broadly true in another city, for all I know.  In DC, it doesn’t actually make sense, for two reasons.

First, people in DC are already clustered by partisan or ideological affilitation far more self-consciously than just about anywhere else. Twentysomething conservatives here aren’t going to feel alienated from their peers, because their peers are conservatives.  The other reason is that progressives in this town—even in media, stereotypes notwithstanding—are not actually glassy-eyed pod people for Obama, even if they like and support him.  They “actually groan at the label Generation Obama” too. (Or they would if anyone actually uttered phrases that lame outside the confines of trend pieces.)  The folks I know on the left don’t spend their time mooning at Obama photos, and they are not, in fact, shocked and horrified to discover that there are other people in their 20s and 30s with rather profoundly different political views.  As I say above, I’ve never really described myself as a conservative, so maybe things are different for them. But I’m doubtful. The piece reads less like an examination of a “trend” than a theory awkwardly casting about for data points that fit.

Tags: Horse Race Politics · Journalism & the Media · Sexual Politics



4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Neil the Ethical Werewolf // Mar 1, 2009 at 9:34 am

    Please understand that your conservative branding is a beautiful thing for the world! My plan to get everybody into the bliss machine depends on you getting the highest-level “Conservative Intellectual” slots possible. Insofar as intellectual ability counts for anything in getting you there, we’re in great shape. You’re easily a three-eyed man in that land of the blind. (That’s supposed to be a compliment, sorry if it’s unclear.)

    So you do that, and become the Conservative With Bold New Ideas, and eventually the movement reforms itself in your image. That’s a movement that would actually have useful things to say, and if they beat us it might actually be for a legitimate reason. A society with Sanchezian conservatism (I was thinking Julianian at first but that sounds bad) advances faster, and the blissful day foretold by utilitarian eschatology draws nigh.

  • 2 Barry // Mar 2, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    Neil, put the bong down slowly………………. 🙂

  • 3 Julian Sanchez // Mar 3, 2009 at 12:36 am

    I’m flattered, of course, but I’m not holding my breath.

  • 4 tp // Mar 6, 2009 at 3:36 am

    Tangentially (not really) relevant knee slapper: Why is John Wayne a non-contingent being? Because he can’t act:)