Saturday, January 26, 2008

THE VIRTUES OF HYPOCRISY. Beliefnet's Rod Dreher starts out saying "there's something ...not quite there when conservatives who don't have families give advice and commentary on family-related issues." He tells us how a "conservative acquaintance... explained that the experience of raising kids, especially the one who suffers so much, has made him far less willing to pass judgment on other parents."

You know the drill. After several paragraphs Dreher executes a McArdle Maneuver and ends up talking about murderous teens who won't do their homework and "self-centered, couldn't-give-a-s**t parents." (He also says that having children "made me less quick to judge others harshly.")

Dreher's apparently in a mood to advise his fellow conservative commentators on lifestyle choices. Some days earlier, he told them to leave "Leave the NYC-DC Bubble":
I wonder if The American Spectator would be better off moving back to Bloomington, Indiana. I wonder how different National Review would be if it kept its DC bureau, but relocated its offices to Dallas or Atlanta. Similarly with the Weekly Standard. And so forth. For one thing, there would be much greater attention paid to culture, and less to policy and pure politics.
More attention to culture? Didn't he see Jonah Goldberg's review of Cloverfield? (Spoiler alert: it's about 9/11, "a message worth pondering.")

We've been over this before. Pleasing as is the prospect of Goldberg spending his lunch breaks at the Cracker Barrel in Fritters, Alabama, there's no reason for rightwing columnists to walk the walk. They're big idea men; they have read Hayek and Bloom and Coulter. It is for the lumpen to follow their social prescriptions, while the Smart Ones ponder welfare policy over phyllo-wrapped salmon at Persephone.

It would be easy to twit them for hypocrisy, but let us say this for them: they want others to think as they think, but draw the line at demanding that they live as they live. Dreher wants them not only to think as he thinks -- insofar as they can follow that snaking stream of half-baked ideas -- but also to live as he lives: religiously, away from major cities, with kids, organic food and compost heaps. He's the sort who will worry over "what American conservatism has become," and in the very next post worry over those who are "policing conservatism from within." And he thinks he's being non-judgmental. Some kinds of hypocrisy really are worse than others.

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