Thursday, February 26, 2009

YOU WANT TO SEND A MESSAGE? CALL WESTERN CIVILIZATION. CPAC is in full swing, and though I picked out some of its random social media moments, it's probably better left to genuine Kremlinologists of the Movement. But I thought this clip of Tucker Carlson giving a speech was interesting. The CPAC crowd took issue to his assertion that the New York Times, though librulmedia, actually gathered news, and that gathering news is expensive and hard. This would seem a self-evident fact. Here and at the Voice I mostly just pull stuff off the web and the wires; it's only hard because I have to do so goddamned much of it, and I certainly don't cost the Voice much money. But the reporters spend days and weeks tracking stories, and that requires plenty of work and money.

Carlson got the crowd back on his side by praising Fox News, which also uses reporters, and they really perked up when he asked why there aren't 25 Fox Newses. But I think he meant it as a challenge and they took it as wish fulfillment -- in a just world there would be 25 Fox Newses, at least. Rupert Murdoch's only paying for one, though, and in the current environment it's hard to see how others would get financing.

I think this is really what all the conservative rage about allegedly liberal institutions comes from. Newspapers, universities, Hollywood -- they all grew more or less organically into what they are, and if they did not develop as conservatives would like, their options (absenting acceptance) are to create alternatives or seize the citadels. Often I have puzzled, or pretended to, over the conservative rage at big schools with their liberal professors; there are plenty of Bible colleges and, with some scratch, they can always make their own, new academies. But that would take time and effort and, even worse, leave Yale and Harvard still standing. The idea of taking them over in a groovy revolution speaks to an apparently constant emotional need which is probably bigger than any notion of reform.

To this point, Patrick Ruffini got on a high horse about Joe the Plumber, and said something about Hollywood:
The left assumes that it is culturally superior and the natural party of government and fights aggressively to frame any conservative incursion on that turf as somehow alien and unnatural. (The "Oh God..." whisper being the perfect illustration.) They dominate Hollywood not by actively branding liberalism in their movies, but by cooly associating liberal policy ideas with sentiments everyone feels, like love (gay marriage) or fairness (the little guy vs. some evil corporate stiff).
He still thinks conservatives should take over Hollywood, of course, but with "an all encompassing argument for conservative cultural and political relevance." At The American Scene, Conor Friedsdorf (of all people! I may have misjudged him) raises a demurrer:
Those professions may be overwhelmingly liberal, but they are also populated mostly by folks whose primary goals aren’t political. Most Hollywood actors, directors and writers set out to do good work and make money, not to advance the cause of the Democrat Party or liberalism generally.
Yeah. You claw your way to the top and then you party with Castro and Che. I thought everyone knew that.

Building the modern conservative movement also took years of painstaking work and heavy financing. But since it was a political movement, it could take a shortcut: access to power attracts rich backers who'll pay to get it, and you every so often you can get the people to vote on it. In this it is much different from the institutions they yearn to take over, which are less easily overturned. The great irony is that, once upon a time, conservatives were supposed to be the ones who "feel affection for the proliferating intricacy of long-established social institutions and modes of life." Now they want culture, cirricula, and the content of newspapers subjected to a plebiscite. No wonder that, now that they're dislodged from political power, they seem so adrift. They're no longer even who they pretended to be.

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