Friday, March 03, 2006

The Crunchy Con smackdown

Jonah Goldberg takes the Crunchy Con thesis and its proponents to the woodshed to today:

Frankly, they (in particular Rod Dreher) deserve it. Even though I am sympathetic to the underlying sentiments (as is Jonah). In fact, just reading his lengthy critique (without the usual complement of sophomoric jokes even) lets us know Rod has hit a real nerve. I could write something similar from my own perspective, and if the spirit moves me I might. But for now I think I can get at the essence of my gripe with the Crunchy Con thesis in many fewer words.

Rod is fundamentally correct that red-state America, the American Right (and the American consumer in general) need to cultivate and exercise more spiritual discipline and take greater care in avoiding the trap of comfortable suburbanish consumerism. But everything I have read from Rod so far regarding how Americans ought to reorient their lives toward that end is seriously misguided.

I recall a cartoon from Doonesbury many years ago where some academic pooh-bah and his lackey are sitting in the Dean's office working over some budget numbers. The lackey suggests saving some money by cutting university administration, whereupon the Dean replies, "I said we cut some fat, not bone marrow." Like our college administrator friend, Rod makes no real effort to sort out the difference between what is essential and what is superfluous. If someone did make such an effort, it would be a very valuable thing. But what is between the covers of Crunchy Cons is not it, even if its essential premises are correct.

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