Rod Dreher: Truman Capote Con

The Bearded Church Lady speaketh:

If you have to descend to the level of trash-talking vulgarian to prove your bona fides with the Common Man, then fine, in the aristocracy of character, I’ll keep working toward being an elitist. It is hard to imagine the conservatives I admire the most, and wish to emulate — men like Wendell Berry and Russell Kirk — being very impressed with Mark Levin’s crude shtick. Or Robert Stacy McCain’s, whose perpetual blunderbuss brings to mind the inner life of a failed oyster: a constant irritation, with no resulting pearl.
(I stole that oyster dig from Truman Capote, but boy, does it ever apply here!)

What is relevant here:

  • Wendell Berry? WTF? Since when is Wendell Berry an icon in the conservative pantheon?
  • Russell Kirk was not a wienerhead. Rod Dreher is.

Russell Kirk once said, in a lecture at the Heritage Foundation, no less: “Not seldom has it seemed as if some eminent Neoconservatives mistook Tel Aviv for the capital of the United States.” Only a real troublemaker, a mixer, would have said such a thing. Kirk was a cultural eccentric, a man who cherished his status as an outsider, an anachronism, disdaining all things modern and “mass.”

Among those thinkers whom Kirk examined in his landmark study, The Conservative Mind, was John C. Calhoun. Having long ago read the entirety of Calhoun’s Disquisition on Government, I’m sure I would have noticed if Dreher had ever found occasion to reference Calhoun’s most important insight:

The necessary result, then, of the unequal fiscal action of the government is, to divide the community into two great classes; one consisting of those who, in reality, pay the taxes, and, of course, bear exclusively the burthen of supporting the government; and the other, of those who are the recipients of their proceeds, through disbursements, and who are, in fact, supported by the government; or, in fewer words, to divide it into taxpayers and tax-consumers.

But this sturdy thought appears nowhere in Crunchy Cons, where instead we find the economic mysticism of E.F. Schumacher. And, as I’ve said before, I am aware of no evidence that Dreher has ever read Mises and Hayek. If he did, he evidently gained nothing from it.

Ultimately, it comes back to my critique of the Politics of Niceness:

So when Rod Dreher gets sniffy about Mark Levin or people act horrified by an implied slur in an RNC video, I just want to pound those weenies on the head and scream: “Wake the f— up, you clueless dingbats! The Democrats are eating Republican babies for breakfast, bankrupting our grandchildren, and giving major industrial corporations as gift-wrapped presents to their labor goon buddies! If you want to award gold stars for ‘plays well with others,’ go be a kindergarten teacher and leave politics the hell alone!”
Maybe when the grown-ups are through beating the Democrats, then we’ll have time to mind our manners like we were eating watercress-and-endive finger sandwiches at the Ladies Cotillion Society luncheon.

This is not debate club. The Democrats are not interested in “civil discourse,” and your fearful hand-wringing is worse than useless in the present situation.

UPDATE: Rumblepak writes:

The problem reveals itself immediately when we look at the left, its heroes and media spokespeople. The average person under 40 indulges in heavy doses of Jon Stewart, Adult Swim, Bill Maher, et al, and none of these guys are particularly nice or civil. They are pretty darn “mean,” in fact.

Exactly. It is one thing to condemn harsh rhetoric, per se. It is something else entirely to say that Republicans are losing elections because Rush said “I hope he fails” or because Levin told a caller to take a flying leap. There are two sides of this argument, and we don’t see disgusted ex-GOP voters switching their radios from Michael Savage to “All Things Considered.” Democrats are not attracting votes because Rahm Emanuel reduced his f-bombs to once every other sentence.

How many votes did the GOP lose because Ann Coulter called John Edwards a “faggot”? And how many votes did the GOP lose because John McCain endorsed the Bush bailout?

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