Extract from the Comments

Veteran IP/DD reader Tim offered this:

Btw, thought you might be interested to read the comments on a recent anti-Steyn moment from your old pal Glenn Reynolds at InstaPundit.

OCTOBER 28, 2013

BUSTING MARK STEYN for doom-mongering. I like Steyn, but more than most, he reminds me of why despair is a sin.

Apparently Glenn loves that same Tamny piece (linked in an earlier comment). Yeah, you had this guy’s number years ago, as do many of his commenters.

I responded:

Good catch. Reynolds is the Henny Youngman of bloggers.

(Don’t be nonplussed. Google and Youtube him. You’ll see what I mean.)

Okay. Don’t hunt. Go here…

Do read the comments at InstaPundit. Maybe the peanut gallery is finally getting tired of him. He’s always been more aggregator than thinker, law professor or no. His wife, Helen Smith, seems more thoughtful and interesting than he is. Cue the Youngman joke, “Take my wife, please!”

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10 thoughts on “Extract from the Comments

  1. I really don’t see how mainstream conservatism can hold anyone’s attention at this point, especially a conservative’s. I understand the paleo- perspective (Gottfried, Buchanan) is pretty much anathema to most people, but at least there’s genuine opposition to the status quo there.

    The thing about guys like Steyn (or Frum or both Lowries) is that they’re completely comfortable with the culture of the Left. They just want to pay a little less in taxes and maybe intervene a little more (or sometimes less) in the sandbox. Where the hell is real opposition in the mainstream?

    Or, as a buddy of mine put it best, “Breitbart/ South Park conservatism is a dead end, because if you’re socially liberal you can’t be fiscally conservative, since you’re constantly running to Uncle Sam for your HIV meds.” Can’t have one without the other and I don’t see anyone who does both, except in face-to-face contact.

    Alright, Steyn is (kind of) funny and witty, but so was Christopher Hitchens, and that man was an empty husk. The only NRO staff worth their salt get the axe: see: Derbyshire & Weissberg.

    I know you’re going to tell me to lighten up Rob, but even you have admitted that the Left outlets employ better writers. They’re insidious, but the Atlantic, Slate, or Salon have sharper minds. Breitbart and Daily Caller, for instance, are rifer with typos than your average blog.

    • Uh… I don’t think this is the Steyn you’re looking for. Useless opposition would be Frum, who simply wants to be loved by everyone (a la Schwarzenegger, though slower in the decline) but doesn’t want to claim statism as his own just yet, merely support its tenets. Steyn is outspoken enough to get Canadian lefties into a lather even when he’s talking about U.S. idiocy. If Canadians have anything like their reputed even-temperedness, that’s a bit of a feat.

  2. I thought your comment needed a response, but I didn’t know where to start.

    Now Tim’s got the ball rolling, so I’ll toss a few more logs on the fire.

    The term South Park Conservative was always a glib and shallow label, amusing but essentially meaningless. It takes in a wide range of conservatives who have varying views on specific issues but share an aversion to Brent Bozell’s desire to restore all popular media to the bland pablum of the Dick van Dyke Show and Rock Hudson/Doris Day movies. That’s it.

    Take Mark Steyn for example. He’s funny but that’s far from all he is. He’s an outstanding writer who’s had to fight the threat of criminal charges in Canada for being insufficiently politically correct. He understands the national healthcare systems of Canada, the U.K., France, Sweden, Australia, etc better than anyone else I’ve read. Moreover, he is a deeply knowledgeable writer on pop culture who has encyclopedic knowledge of popular music from The golden age of Broadway to the era of Frank Sinatra. (Take a look at Steynonline.com) But I doubt he has much use for Brent Bozell either.

    Of course, he often writes for National Review, which I suspect you’ve banned from your ken since Derbyshire got canned. Otherwise you couldn’t make the absurd claim that Slate and Salon writers are smarter and better writers than conservatives. As thinkers, they’re banal hacks. They’ve got no one who can compare in learning or writing accomplishment with the top tier at National Review — Victor Davis Hanson (near if not full paleo), Jay Nordlinger, Kevin Williamson, Thomas Sowell, Jonah Goldberg, Mona Charen, Dennis Prager, Yuval Levin, Veronica de Rugy, Andrew McCarthy, and Mark Steyn, most of whom have written serious books about how dire the American situation has become. There is no single party line there. They’ve got Malkin as a contributor, for God’s sake. They’ve got Kathryn Lopez, a hard liner Catholic who’s uncompromising on marriage and abortion, and today I read an eloquent piece by an intellectual atheist who nevertheless believes in God when he listens to the music of Bach.

    But I know, they fired Derbyshire…

    Citing Breitbart and the Daily Caller is a straw man. I’ve ridiculed Breitbart often for their lousy copy editing, although if anything, their editorial center of gravity is closer to the paleo conservatives you seem to prefer. (Also, Shapiro and Pollak are promising.) I don’t read the Daily Caller at all unless some of their reporting gets linked by an aggregator site. I NEVER read Frum.

    All that said, I’m still not sure what point you were making. Your assumptions seem so out of kilter that they obscured, for me, your real line of thought.

    • My writing might be rife with assumptions, but none as blanketing as the idea that because I’m not somehow enthusiastic about Steyn that somehow means I’ve never read him (not exactly your argument, but I’m addressing all the threads addressed to me, not just yours).

      Steyn is essentially bemused, not outraged. I understand one needs to be philosophical in order to keep from going insane (humor also helps) but at the end of the day my instincts (and yes, my reading of his works over the years) give me a very mixed view of the man. I’d honestly rather read Bruce Bawer or Geert Wilders. Steyn is far from the most committed (or smartest man) to face punishment for having the wrong beliefs. Christ, Marine La Pen has bigger balls, and she’s a Frenchwoman.

      My ultimate point, though, and my real question, is who the hell is NR’s target audience? I don’t know their circulation (or rather, the correlation between their claims and how many copies they actually sell), but I know a wide cross-section of Americans, from unreconstructed hippies to tea-partiers, and I don’t know who the hell reads the thing. Reactionary dentists who have some qualms with Obamacare who are looking for some way to dress up their waiting rooms to keep people preoccupied before having root canals? I’m being facetious, yes, but I’m also genuinely curious.

      As a postscript, I should add I know plenty of people who read (and admired) the rag when Buckley was still breathing.

      Having a certain masochistic streak, I should add that I do read mainstream conservative sites (using aggregates like Drudge as a jumping off point), but I also read the alt-right blogs, and I prefer Whiskey’s Place or Mangan’s and plenty of other outlets to NRO.

      Das ist alles fur heute.

      • Joe, it’s okay to say, “Whoops, I was wrong.” It happens sometimes. No need to write the equivalent of a Rube Goldberg machine to explain how you actually “meant to do that”.

        • Tim,

          Whoops I didn’t mean to disagree with RL on his blog. Also allow me to apologize for the momentary lapse in reason on my part. I forgot that the definition of a real conservative is someone who agrees with you.

  3. National Review’s target audience is pretty simple: people who miss the conversation of intelligent adults. They don’t all agree with one another, but they are mostly thoughtful and responsive even in their disagreements. I frequently disagree with arguments I read there. But I usually learn something. I have no use for Conrad Black, but I don’t have to read him.

    It’s a personal choice whether you’re part of any target audience. Read the comments. For the most part they’re a cut or two above what you’ll find elsewhere.

  4. You know you’re allowed to disagree with me on my blog. (This time, I can block anyone I want to. But I still keep not blocking anyone.) Maybe you’d do better by reading some Steyn and citing instances where he’s more ‘bemused’ than passionate. Personally, I think he’s as passionate as you are, just more reserved in the ways he shows it. A Brit thing.

    I understand why Tim thinks you’re faking it. You don’t reference anything. You just stomp. This isn’t Instapunk. It’s Deerhound Diary. Talk.

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