Thursday, September 17, 2009

The "Elizabeth Bennett Conservatives"

Elizebeth Bennett:
"I cannot bear to think that he is alive in the world and thinking ill of me."

"I cannot bear to think that there may be a single liberal somewhere in the world thinking ill of me [and associating me with so much riff-raff that exists within the conservative movement]."

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At 9/17/2009 10:51 AM, Blogger Rich Leonardi said...

Parker and Noonan are particularly prone to "Elizabethanism," having transformed themselves into court columnists over the past eight months.

At 9/17/2009 12:58 PM, Blogger James H said...


At 9/18/2009 3:06 PM, Blogger John Henry said...

Um, did you read Douthat on Kmiec (at a 'round table' that included Kmiec among it's participants, I might add)? He picks his spots, no doubt, but he's quite willing to challenge liberals on pro-life issues, even if he has different beliefs about the proper role of government than you do.

At 9/18/2009 3:07 PM, Blogger John Henry said...

Also, read some of the comments he receives from liberals at the Times web-site; if that's pleasing liberals, I don't know what displeasing them would look like.

At 9/18/2009 3:14 PM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

John Henry,

First of all, laugh it off. It's a joke.

Second, yes, I saw his evisceration of Kmiec and blogged about it. I gave him kudos for it, but noted that it wasn't quite enough to get him off my s**t list. You can search my blog for the post, if you'd like.

Third, why don't you tell me what my beliefs about "the proper role of government" are vis-a-vis Mr. Douthat? Do you know? It might interest you to know that I've stated on a number of occasions that Mr. Douthat is the one pundit whose political views are probably closest to my own. In fact, I've written it in the comboxes at American Catholic.

What I object to about Mr. Douthat is the air of elitism about him, the fact that he attacks conservatives more than he attacks liberal, and, closely related, his - let's call it a "need" - need to feel accepted by the liberal coastal elites. He's even admitted in writing to having such a bias. You can search my blog for the column, if you'd like.

At 9/18/2009 3:34 PM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

In fact, what I object to most about Mr. Douthat is the need to seem - to his colleagues on the left - more "reasonable" than all those other riff-raff.

Mind you, I'm all for being reasonable. Reason is part of our faith and every Catholic should seek to put it into practice. It's the need to seem like the "voice of reason", among all the cacaphony of voices, that I object to. The need to frequently call out those that are ostensibly one's own in order not to be too closely associated with all those unpleasant people.

It's the "Hey, liberals, don't blame me. Don't you see how reasonable I can be compared to those nutjobs?" mentality that I find unsavory.

At 9/18/2009 3:52 PM, Blogger John Henry said...

Jay - Well, I guess I'm confused by your criticism. On the one hand, Douthat is criticized quite harshly by liberals for his pro-life stance; and he's criticized by fiscal conservatives and neo-cons as a RINO because he is less concerned about spending/foreign policy positions. Understandably, he criticizes liberals far less than a down-the-line conservative. If you agree with him on this, it's surprising that you object to him not criticizing liberals more. Who he criticizes is a direct result of his substantive policy positions.

As far as a 'need for acceptance' and all that, it certainly hasn't compromised him on the issues that I find important: when was the last time the NYT's had an Op-Ed pointing out that real compromise on abortion can only come after over-turning Roe, or calling out Ted Kennedy for not being as pro-life as his sister, or fairly summarizing a papal encyclical? These are not particularly popular arguments in the milieu of the NYT.

Does he bend over backward on some other issues, perhaps to compensate for this? Probably. But it's a perfectly valid approach for a Catholic concerned about pro-life issues and trying to influence public discourse to take. Try to be as honest and non-ideological as possible on the issues of lesser importance, and take your hits on the issues that you really want to fight for.

Now, my tone here (and in my previous comment) is too serious, but that's mainly because I don't have enough time right now revise it and give it a lighter touch. I'm not particularly concerned about Douthat, per se; but I think there's a good case to be made for his approach to public affairs...mainly, because, well, it's the one I try to take.

At 9/18/2009 4:03 PM, Blogger John Henry said...

"In fact, what I object to most about Mr. Douthat is the need to seem - to his colleagues on the left - more "reasonable" than all those other riff-raff."

Sorry - I was typing and didn't see this comment before I hit publish. Well, this is a stylistic objection, but I think, again, that part of this is a corollary of his substantive policy positions. He's not just trying to appear that he has more in common with most people on the left - and thus is more open to agreement than his colleagues on the right- he actually is.

Now the other part is probably his Harvard/Atlantic/NYT background; that inevitably shows up in his writing and rubs some people the wrong way - fair enough. I'm not much of a populist, having spent basically my whole life within a couple hours of DC (aside from college), so that probably helps explain why I'm less sensitive to that type of thing. It's a blind spot for me, I guess.

At 9/18/2009 4:05 PM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

"... mainly, because, well, it's the one I try to take."

Yeah, no kidding.


Douthat's need to appear more reasonable than everyone else just strikes me as being like the "better than thou" kid in the class. Don't like it one bit. Just rubs me the wrong way.

Right on the substance; annoying in the delivery.

At 9/18/2009 4:15 PM, Blogger John Henry said...

"Yeah, no kidding. ;-)"

At the end of "Liar, Liar," which I admit is a pretty crappy movie they have a series of outtakes. In one of them Jim Carrey yells his line, and his co-actor (who had been put up to it by the crew, I believe) screams in response 'over-actor'. Carrey pauses for a second, and then says 'there on to me!'

I had a similar feeling reading your response. ;-)


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