"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Monday, February 27, 2006

Much Ado About Con-Cons

Rod Dreher of the Dallas Morning-News has developed a sideline as the promoter of "crunchy conservatism." This mainly involves the old Southern agrarianism except that we get rid of some of the unpleasant social hierarchism that was packaged in that old deal.

The bottom line on crunchy-con is that it is a trendy sensibility with a Catholic edge. Not Kroger -- Whole Foods. Not Milton Friedman -- G.K. Chesterton. Bye-bye Hummer -- Hello Toyota Hybrid. You get the idea. It's the whole earth mother thing if it had developed a stronger conservative element.

Though I may write with an edge of skepticism, I think crunchy con is a good thing. Not everybody is cut out for the bland navy sport coat-red tie world of the eighties GOP brought to maturity by Reagan. This group expands the tent and provides a firmer link to Christian thought in politics.

National Review has gone a little crazy with blogs. I can remember when I was excited to read the online version every day because of the great articles. The prepared content has suffered neglect as the blogs have become more and more prominent on the magazine's website. Unsurprisingly, Crunchy Conservatism (which originated with Dreher at NRO) now joins the legions as a featured blog at NRO. For a post from that blog that captures the ambiguous spirit of the enterprise (crunchy con, not blogging), I recommend this one from Ross Douthat.

In any case, it will be interesting to observe whether Dreher has really put his finger on a going concern. We've always known Christian conservatives didn't boil down to a composite of the viewers of the 700 Club. Crunchy cons may help fill out the picture.

9 comments:

Tlaloc said...

"This group expands the tent and provides a firmer link to Christian thought in politics."

I'm not sure that it's working, at least so far. I say that because what I've seen in the corner seems to be unremittent hostility to Dreher and his "crunchy cons." In fact I had to check that he was actually part of the NRO staff after seeing how abused he was by his colleagues.

Kathy Hutchins said...

The thing that drives me stark raving bonkers about Dreher and his crunchy cons is if they were actually confronted with the real, honest agrarian life, not the varnished soft-focus version they get all misty-eyed about, they'd run for the nearest gated suburban community as fast as their unmuddied Vasques would carry them. For Dreher and his crunchy urban professional Dallas friends to have their organic soft fruits in June, some poor sod in Denton has to shovel pig manure off a pickup truck onto a field on a cold rainy day in March.

I'll tell the story about how I slipped in pig manure on a cold rainy day in March and sat down on a dead piglet some other time.

S. T. Karnick said...

Kathy, you're absolutely right.

Evanston said...

Hunter, thanks for the extract from NRO. I scanned the blog 3 days ago, and just now. Still agreed most with Jonah Goldberg. Tlaloc sees "unremitting hostility" to Dreher but there's back-and-forth. Underlying it all is whether CCs claim to be a subset of the conservative movement (merely re-evaluating our priorities) or claim that they are the only "true" conservatives. I see CCs as a subset of modern conservatism, stranded after the die-hard left abandoned middle America, who inject some healthy discussion. Tlaloc correctly notes that Dreher inspires hostility. I dislike Dreher's tone, but recognize he's gotta be provocative to make a buck. He's gonna cash in on the CC thing for years to come. Overall, we're bound to see some sort of mirror image to Barack Obama emerge within the conservative movement to appeal to the CC demographic. Someone with liberal "sensibilities" and fashion, who manages to say little and do less.
Much thanks also to Kathy for her comments. Clever writing, gotta agree with most of it. But you can keep the manure and piglet story. Grody!

Hunter Baker said...

Oh yeah, Dreher drives me nuts. Stark, raving, nutzola. Forgot to mention that. An ideological ally, but too earnestly trendy for my blood.

Kathy Hutchins said...

Even before the whole crunchy-con thing, a lot of Catholic bloggers found Dreher's behavior when he jumped feet first into the Boston priest sex abuse story, shall we say, overly opportunistic. Also, he seems to be the right-wing's Andrew Sullivan -- he throws histrionic tantrums with such regularity he needs his own Freak-Out Advisory System.

James Elliott said...

I thought Andrew Sullivan was the right-wing's Andrew Sullivan? He was the token conservative at TNR for several years (even did a stint as editor - the most meaningless position in political journalism, what with Peretz around).

Hunter Baker said...

Kathy, I had the same thought about the priest sex abuse thing.

Tom Van Dyke said...

I admit to being quite the Burkean and to owning a pair of Birkenstocks as well.

But I hate friggin' granola. Where does that leave me?