Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Oy, just what wee need, a new type of conservative. This is approximately number 1,389,849 in the series. Then again, perhaps I should be the last one critiqing the effort. And I do think one of conservatism's many assets is that there are such a wide variety of us.

At any rate, Mark Gauvreau Judge confesses that he is a "conservative metrosexual." He explains:
As most people know, a metrosexual is a heterosexual man who has good taste in art and music, and likes to pamper himself with nice clothes and expensive grooming. There's only one drawback: I can't stand much of the so-called common-man culture celebrated by the Right.

I fully realized I'm a conservative metrosexual -- let's call me a metrocon for short -- a few weeks ago. The Gretchen Wilson song "Redneck Woman" came on the radio. This tune, a hard-charging boogie-woogie number, is a celebration of crude behavior, a kind of red-state aria of defiance against the staid, snobby, and civilized. The woman in the song boasts about shopping at Wal-Mart, keeping the Christmas lights on the house all night long, and standing in the front yard barefoot "with a baby on my hip."

I had an immediate, visceral hatred of the song. It represented the one thing I truly cannot stand about modern conservatism: its defense of anything dumb, tacky, and second-rate, as long as it comes from "the people." The common man is deified by the right. NASCAR, an absolutely idiotic "sport" which consists, as the joke goes, of "a bunch of rednecks makin' left turns," is hailed as red state America's favorite pastime -- and ipso facto comparable to the Olympics of ancient Greece. Actually, scratch that: NASCAR is not treated as something grand and noble, which makes it all the worse. To populist conservatives, the simple fact that Bush country embraces the sport makes its aesthetic quality quite beside the point. This is the sport of people, we are told ad nauseam by folks like Laura Ingraham, Bill O'Reilly, and Sean Hannity, who "work hard, go to church, and play by the rules." They are the ones who watch the WWF -- a "sport" even apes laugh at -- and who read the Left Behind series of books, which should probably be called Theology for Dummies.
First of all, it's WWE now, thanks to a lawsuit with the World Wildlife Fund. Second of all . . . Amen.

Okay, I don't exactly endorse all of what Judge is saying, but I do understand where he's coming from. I am no friend of populism, and the celebration of the common is not exactly my style. Although, I think a truly urbane man can appreciate all sorts of art and entertainment.

Personally, I'm fairly eclectic. Beethoven's Ninth Symphony just finished playing on my radio, but Korn's Untouchables just replaced it. I love single malt Scotch, but I wouldn't turn my nose to Budweiser. And I appreciate a good smoke, but I'm not going to reject a cigar because it costs less than $5.

But that's not either here nor there. Judge's main point, once again, has some merit. There is nothing wrong at all with saying some things are objectively better than others. Beethoven is objectively better music than Snoop Dogg or even, yes, Led Zeppelin.

Where I think Judge goes too far is in his absolute disdain for everything he disapproves of. Listen, I detest country music, and I'd rather watch women's baseketball than endure an afternoon of NASCAR, but the fact that a large section of the populace enjoys these forms of entertainment is not keeping me up at night. (I would also like to note that these activities are not exclusively enjoyed by red state southerners: Example 1: My very New York older brother, who sportingly has a tattoo emblazened with Dale Earnhardt's number.)

I do think conservatives go too far with the "average guy" schtick, but you know what? Most people are the average guy, and turning your nose up at them is not the best way to convince them of the rightness of your cause.

Judge's basic point about not worshipping at the altar of the mundane is one worth considering, but it might have had a bit more punch had he chosen not to glorify so crassly in his own righteousness.

Further thought: Judge conceded as much on the Laura Ingraham show, but better that people pursue such crude yet relatively innocent pursuits as NASCAR and country rather than more violent diversion, a la gangsta rap or worse.


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