Conservative thought has seemingly been “Hannitized.” This label is taken from the rabidly partisan, pseudo-intellectual, talent-challenged, nauseatingly grandiloquent, and frighteningly dimwitted talk show host Sean Hannity.
The only requirement for receiving the blessing of “Hannitization” is to give unquestioning consent to the world view of Hannity, which is identical to the world views of all the pop-culture conservatives now saturating the mainstream media. That collective world view can be summed up by a simple slogan; “Democrats are bad – really, really, really bad – but Republicans aren’t.”
It is important to make a distinction between pop culture conservatives and all the other types of conservatives that have emerged since conservatism became fashionable. The most popular type of conservatism is economic conservatism, which lives by the credo, “Wealth means never having to say your sorry.” Social conservatives believe, “Durn the balance of powers, everything should be a federal issue!” Neo-conservatives stand by the principle that “Where McGovern went wrong is that he didn’t want to blow up anything.” Religious conservatives have been bickering with each other too much to create a slogan, so they have glommed onto the pop-culture conservative slogan except on the occasional exceptions that any Republicans are discovered to be engaging in unsavory and extramarital intimate behavior.
Pop-culture conservatives, on the other hand, conversant in all the various tenets of conservatism with the added ability to deflect any scrutiny of Republican positions by continually pointing out that “Democrats are bad – really, really, really bad.” Although this technique is rather obvious on talk radio, it has become increasingly noticeable among print commentators such as Ann Coulter. In her review of the opening of the Democrat National Convention, Coulter characterized the event as “the Spawn of Satan convention in Boston” and moved from that assault to ridiculing everything from the appearance of Democrat women to anyone who has run for the Democrat nomination over the past 28 years.
Former congressman and GOP vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp has taken the anti-intellectual tactics of his fellow pop culture conservatives to even assault non-Democrats who dissent with the conventional wisdom of the various schools of conservative conventional wisdom. “A struggle is under way for the soul of the Republican Party between a minority of protectionist xenophobes and those who are pro-trade and pro-immigration,” declared Kemp in Immigrant nation … trading freely and building wealth, published June 28. Throughout the piece he suggested that anyone who would question the virtues of free trade and open borders immigration was a danger to conservatism and Ronald Reagan’s vision of America as “the city on a shining hill.” They are probably a threat to what Reagan referred to as “a shining city on a hill,” as well.
Cal Thomas has been diligent in preserving his pop culture conservative credentials by focusing on the assertion that “Republicans aren’t really, really, really bad.” In a recent effort titled Rumsfeld and bad intelligence, Thomas pointed out that although “...there is ‘no question’ the declaration presented by the United States to the United Nations justifying war against Iraq ‘was flawed, was inaccurate, was false,’...” and that, “the Senate Intelligence Committee report, which concluded that Iraq possessed no weapons of mass destruction and that the CIA was wrong to cite their existence as justification for toppling Saddam Hussein,” he allowed Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to proclaim, “... nonetheless President Bush ‘made the right decision.’”
For good measure Thomas quoted Rumsfeld talking of visiting wounded soldiers at military hospitals and confessing, “It is heartbreaking to see someone whose life has changed that dramatically.”
Although these types of sentiments are certainly endearing pop culture conservatives to the powers that be in the nation’s capital, they are not enhancing the national debate on issues such as economy, limited government, or foreign entanglements that will shape America’s fate. There is no argument here that “Democrats are bad,” and Republicans holding such debates with them has become futile, mainly because their positions are, with few rhetorical exceptions, essentially mirror images.
If pop culture conservatives really wanted to serve the intellect of the nation, rather than devoting so much time to accosting Democrats, maybe they could accept the challenge of analyzing the thoughts of such luminaries as William Lind, Paul Craig Roberts, Kevin Phillips, or Charley Reese. The fact that these names are not well known outside of mainstream media circles is something of a commentary on the commentators who have condensed American political thought into such an easy formula.
August 11, 2004
Since 1993 Bob Strodtbeck has been writing commentaries for The Apopka Chief, a news weekly circulated in a community ten miles north of Orlando. His analyses investigate a wide range of topics from what he calls a “Christian pragmatic” view – that is to say, he considers that human interactions are largely driven by the human instinct toward self-service, which is traditionally known as sin. This perspective has given Bob great liberty to criticize governmental officials from both parties upon the standards of constitutional laws they swear to uphold and review cultural and economic phenomena from moral standards defined in the Bible. Bob currently lives in Orlando with his bride Pam and children Charlotte and Richard. He may be reached for comment here.