Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Conor Friedersdorf Chides the Right

The political free-for-all that is the three ring circus of blog ace Robert Stacy McCain has from time to time had entertaining back and forths with one of the right's promising young writers, Conor Friedersdorf. Conor has raised the ire of many on the right with his forthright criticism of a number of conservative pundits and talk show personalities, the most recent of which was Mark Steyn, discussed in some detail at The Other McCain.

Dissent and differences of opinion can be good to argue and ultimately strengthen your position and your ability to defend that position. This kind of open debate occurs far more on the right than on the left, and the difference in experience shows in how arguments between the two camps play out.

What I find troubling in Conor Friedersdorf is that he has taken the past two years and attempted to advance the notion that the Right is undermined by its most vocal and forceful proponents. Who in the political sphere pushes conservatism? There may be a number of republican politicians with sound conservative credentials, but none have captured the imagination of the party or are the parties natural standard bearer. One may yet present, but the problem of a politician taking stands is you become a target, as Representative Joe Barton found out. Sarah Palin would be the exception as someone willing to take a stand, be outspoken and espouse the conservative position, and she is doing so across the nation.

The vast bulk of the conservative argument, however, is advanced by talk show personalities, who disseminate the conservative view of the world and its response to the days events. Conor would have those people change their message or be pushed to the margins. It is a position that does find him favor among the left… a conservative willing to impugn its most effective communicators. John McCain got a lot of play in the DC crowd for much the same thing, but inside the halls of power.

Since there is no voice in politics galvanizing the right, the standard bearers for conservatism are largely the conservatives in the media, chief among which would be the radio media as represented by Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, Mark Levin, and perhaps Sean Hannity. For Conor to then target these individuals, be critical of them and undermine their message moves the party backward. Conor, I believe, argues that the party has been hi-jacked by these individuals, whose hyperbole ultimately make conservatism appear less reasonable and less palatable to the population as a whole.

I think he is wrong, but the guy can write.


  1. Yet, who really care whether someone can write if what he's writing isn't worth reading?

  2. I do.

    I enjoy a good argument, and I really do enjoy reading the comments of lefties like The Dawg and True West over at Jay Currie's blog, even though I rarely agree with them.

    For instance that ass clown Where's over at Iliocentrism was never one I would enjoy reading, but even reading a retort that I do not agree with might give me chuckle if The Dawg was the author.

  3. But, does not "good argument" imply that it is worth reading -- that it is well reasoned and advances understanding of truth?

  4. As for Waldo, I suspect he's one of those willfully-deluded-into-irrationality DarwinDefenders who followed me over from Cornelius Hunter's blog.

    Sure, a witty retort can be amusing ... but my point was that wittiness alone does not make something worth reading.

  5. I suppose you are right. I found though that a difference in world view resulted in a markedly different interpretation of events. For example they would argue that the free speech proponents were actually intolerant of free speech when conservatives they agreed with were shouted down at a public speaking event, the shouting down being the free speech they felt should be protected.

    Conor writes well and is fun to read. What I learned from reading Conor's argument style was the ability to not take a counter personally. He was very patient and could distill the counter point to its basics. He then would often grant them their point in the hypothetical and see what was left. Often, it left Conor's point intact and the other person with nothing to say. Very compelling.

    He also is a very prolific writer. You wouldn't believe the kind of output that guy has. Four or five well reasoned, well supported posts a day, and oh by the way, at the same time he had been writing a couple of magazine articles, while engaging various commenters in his comment section. He also has broad interests and can write credibly on a surprising range of subjects.

    What brought him up on the radar for me was an effort he made about two years ago to show how what he considered Mark Levin's rude handling of callers and over reaching in his arguments were counter productive to advancing the cause of the right and would ultimately result in the right being consigned to a minority position in politics here in the United States.

  6. I, myself, have no opinion on Mr Friedersdorf. I've never heard of him ... except for chihuahua-like references by Steyn and Shaidle.

    As for Levin, what little bit of him I've heard just annoys me ... a nasal, shouted rant just doesn’t get my interest.

    But, if he's "rude" to some callers, do they deserve it? If Friedersdorf's objection is *merely* about "rudeness" ... or, worse, merely that feminized touchy-feely (and generally, hypocritical) worshippers of "niceness" will disregard the message because of the package ... then I don't give a damn to know more about Mr Friedersdorf. If that's his attitude, then he's worthless.

    I may be a bit more put out in this regard than usual just now, because someone form my college years, whose personality make mine look like a touchy-feely "nice" guy, is trying that crap with me on Facebook.

  7. Nicholas: I never thanked you for the kind words you left in you last comment on the posting by Stacy you linked above. Yessirree Nick, I should have thanked you.

  8. Yes, this post comes in rather late from the discussion at The Other McCain. Conor had dropped in and wanted to discuss some of my McCain comments further, but a couple of e-mails later we seemed to get distracted away, so what the hey, I put together what I had and threw it out there. Conor can always come by and give his counter point.

    But as to the Belvedere component, “Now what the heck would Bob Belvedere say about this?” is a good exercise for anyone to take up. I heartily recommend it, and if you draw a blank you can easily find out for yourself here.