The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Tom Maguire’s Excellent Idea: Let’s Pretend We Take Rod Dreher Seriously

Posted on | April 3, 2012 | 17 Comments

This kind of thing never works out well for Dreher, whom Maguire catches accusing George Zimmerman of being “paranoid,” which is doubly hilarious given that Dreher was writing in the context of being cautious about the facts of the case.

In fact, I have said all along that we have to be wary of trying the case in the media, so I agree with Dreher on that — as does Maguire, for that matter — but the way Dreher jumps to a diagnosis of paranoia totally defeats his point. (Evidently, Dreher had seized on an Orlando Sentinel typo about the frequency of Zimmerman’s 911 calls.)

What is amazing to me is how people have gotten so riled up about this case, as if their personal opinion about this incident in Sanford, Florida, had some kind of tangible purpose, without regard to the actual facts or the ultimate legal outcome. It’s as if they are trying to appropriate to themselves a sort of secondhand righteousness, based on their judgment of a case in which they are not directly involved and which in no way impacts their own lives.

I remember having a similar feeling of disbelief at how people became so emotionally involved in the O.J. Simpson trial. What was that all about, huh? I mean, if you’re in Los Angeles, I could see it being a big local news story, what with the slow-motion highway chase tying up traffic. But there were people who lived nowhere near California, who had never heard of O.J. before then, who nonetheless got glued to the TV, watching every minute of the trial, evidently feeling that the fate of this football-player-turned-movie-star was the most important thing in the world.

It’s mystifying, and I feel silly even wasting 300 words on it.

Anyway, for people who never heard of Rod Dreher, I’d say he’s a well-known idiot except that he’s not really very well-known anymore. He used to work at National Review, then he wrote a stupid book, and now he’s reported to be working on a sequel that I believe is tentatively titled, If You Thought My First Book Was Stupid, Wait ‘Til You See This One!

I’m sure Jonah Goldberg can hardly wait.

Dreher was raised Southern Baptist, converted to Catholicism, then decided he’d rather be Russian Orthodox, and then he got himself in trouble by creating an online alias to muck around in an obscure intramural Orthodox dispute. Oh, yeah: He hates Rush Limbaugh.

It’s probably only a matter of time before Dreher goes Hare Krishna or Zoroastrian or something. He’s tediously serious about everything, which makes him all the more laughable. At least Andrew Sullivan has AIDS-related brain damage as an excuse. Speaking of which . . .

Andrew Sullivan Blames Catholic Church
For Politicizing Contraception

Oh, boy, I bet this is gonna be good!

Yes, indeed: Whenever CNN needs a leading expert on contraception and women, they turn to Dr. Andrew Sullivan MD, OB-GYN!


17 Responses to “Tom Maguire’s Excellent Idea: Let’s Pretend We Take Rod Dreher Seriously”

  1. richard mcenroe
    April 3rd, 2012 @ 10:47 am

    Hey!  I actually know some Zorastrians.  (Iranian emigrés)  Nice people, hard workers and boy can they light a barbecue, for some reason.

    The fascination of the OJ trial was the usual one, watching money and celebrity trump justice and the tragic, routine incompetence of the LA prosecutors when confronting a lawyer more experienced than a PD fresh out of the Hollywood Upstairs Law School.

  2. Commenter E
    April 3rd, 2012 @ 10:51 am

    A bit harsh, aren’t we? Seriously, cut the guy some slack. He may have a high-level of emotional exhibitionism which I sometimes find offputting, but he does contribute something of value in his blog. The occasional bouts of self-righteousness notwithstanding, his coverage of this has been far better than some others in the media. It has also been more responsible than the dishonorable behavior of David Frum or the deeply ridiculous (and un-self aware) trolling of Clark Stooksbury.

  3. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    April 3rd, 2012 @ 11:33 am

    The Zimmerman-Martin case should not be all that noteworthy, but the media made it so.  Unlike OJ, where the evidence was overwelming on what he did, this case could go either way.  But beyond that, it is just a tragic sad affair. 

  4. robertstacymccain
    April 3rd, 2012 @ 12:32 pm

    Don’t get me started on Stooksbury, a guy who got his nose out of joint over my panning of Crunchy Cons, identified me as an enemy on that basis, and never got over it.

    Dreher, Stooksbury, Conor Friedersdorf — they are advocates of what I call Some Other Conservatism. For whatever reason, they get out of step with the majority of the Official Conservative Movement and decide that the whole movement is worthless. So they want to take the label “conservative” and co-opt it for their own idiosyncratic niche, denouncing everyone else as bogus pretenders.

    For myself, fully recognizing the problems of the Official Conservative Movement — which are legion — I am nevertheless pragmatic enough to understand that we have to start from where we are and work with what we’ve got, rather than trying to start from scratch with a bunch of sour pessimistic disgruntled critics.

    Dreher is a perfect example of what’s wrong with Some Other Conservatism: He first described his “crunchy” idea in 2002, at a time when the GOP had only recently captured the White House and the Iraq War had not yet begun. What he was describing was more a lifestyle than a political philosophy, but he was able to hustle a book deal out of it, and when Crunchy Cons came out in spring 2006, the GOP was at (or just past) the apogee of its modern strength, controlling the White House and both Houses of Congress. Yet the Iraq War had become deeply unpopular, the White House had mishandled Social Security reform, the Abramoff scandal was tainting congressional Republicans with a corrupt image, and the “good times” in general were about to collapse.

    Thus Dreher’s stuff about organic vegetables and “Small Is Beautiful” — although perhaps an interesting diversion when the Republican Party was crushing everything in its political path — was utterly misguided in terms of dealing with the kind of serious political problems that were looming into sight in 2006. As Dreher’s spiritual vagabond act suggests, he’s an insecure fad-chaser. He briefly got lucky by promoting a semi-popular niche-brand in a glutted market, but has since relegated himself to the fringe of relevance.

  5. Another Leftist Narrative Crumbles « The Camp Of The Saints
    April 3rd, 2012 @ 2:42 pm

    […] of the fedora for that to Stacy McCain, who reminds us of Mr. Dreher’s […]

  6. Daisy
    April 3rd, 2012 @ 3:04 pm

    You know, none of this would’ve happened if Zimmerman hadn’t decided to be Barney Bad A– and just made his call to the police and then stayed in his vehicle. His dad must have never given him the talk about leaving well enough alone.

  7. SDN
    April 3rd, 2012 @ 4:59 pm

    Yeah, because being concerned about your neighbors is so reckless.

  8. Daisy
    April 3rd, 2012 @ 5:15 pm

    When I see a thug walking down the street I mind my own business. I cross the street or I wait until he’s passed by. Of course I’m a woman and need to be careful but it looks like Zimmerman forgot that he wasn’t as big and bad as he thought he was. That’s why he ended up screaming like a little girl on the tape.

  9. Pathfinder's wife
    April 3rd, 2012 @ 5:36 pm

    Irregardless of Zimmerman’s bigness and badness (which is a misleading description of him from the sounds of it and the looks of it as well, from the video) and his irresponsibility given the power he had at hand and lack of a cool head (my pet theory which I will stick to), I should point this out:

    It is this crossing of the street and such that is the reason why people like Zimmerman get into the predicaments that they do.
    People like Zimmerman feel it necessary to “do something”, especially when their own presumptions get fed by people in the community.  And many times their fear of things is over stimulated compared to the actual threat at hand (not saying one shouldn’t be alert to very real threats, but living in fear of everything isn’t exactly productive either).
    And sometimes the “doing something” goes very awry (my theory again, but it seems quite plausible with my notion that no malice was involved in this, merely dumb overreaction for all concerned).

  10. Pathfinder's wife
    April 3rd, 2012 @ 6:01 pm

    and I’ll add this, because it needs to be said:

    One of the big issues in this case that is getting horribly overlooked (again, imhao) is the terrible disservice our society is doing to boys/young men.  This applies to Martin (17) and Zimmerman (28). They aren’t that far apart in age, certainly not as much as many in the media have tried to paint them both as being, and are both thus products of a society which has not taken the facts of what it means to be young and coming into manhood for what they are, other than to try and demasculinize them.
    And then we throw holy heck when they wind up getting wrong footed (in the case of Zimmerman, wanting desperately to play an heroic role and be looked up to, in the case of Martin, latching on to the avenue of “the lifestyle” which in his eyes, because they weren’t exposed to any other alternative, didn’t make him a sissy).
    In a world that does not do anything but deny, much less approve of, the male drive to be well, male, we wonder why we have such growing problems with young men (and then we compound it by giving them all a good lesson in the way to being powerful, and having some authority, to make some mark in this world, is that we become afraid of them).

    So in a sense, to me at least, is one of the great tragedies of this whole affair.
    I blame the feminists…

  11. Dreher et al « God's Own Crunk
    April 3rd, 2012 @ 6:42 pm

    […] Tom Maguire’s Excellent Idea: Let’s Pretend We Take Rod Dreher Seriously : The Other McCain. Share […]

  12. Bob Belvedere
    April 3rd, 2012 @ 7:22 pm

    The fringe?!?  He’s already gone over the edge and is in the Depths of Mordor.

  13. Adobe_Walls
    April 3rd, 2012 @ 10:10 pm

    As of yet there is no evidence against Zimmerman, if there were you can be sure he’d have been arrested by now.

  14. Adobe_Walls
    April 3rd, 2012 @ 10:14 pm

    No tragedy here move along.

  15. Commenter E
    April 4th, 2012 @ 12:48 am

     The American Conservative  has long been home to “Holden Caulfield” conservatives (“They’re all a bunch of phonies!”) and life-style reactionaries whose passions strike me as … harmless.  I happen to think a dissident conservative magazine serves a legitimate need (that Sean Hannity has been the face of the conservative movement has probably not been helpful), especially on foreign policy.  But the self-conscious moral preening of some Amcon writers, combined with the need to “shock” with ludicrous claims (“Obama is really a Burkean conservative!”)—not to mention a passionate attachment to le cause palestinienne that more than rivals that of any AIPAC activist—gets to be a bit much.   

    For the record, I thought Dreher’s original 2002 National Review article on “Crunchy Conservatism” made good points in criticizing some conservatives’ reflexive dismissals of cultural interests associated (rationally or not)  with liberals, such as speaking French, foreign films, folk music, etc.  But I agree he pushed his Crunchy Con manifesto a bit far to the other extreme, implying that an appreciation for his aesthetic interests (yummy organic food and New Urbanism) is a requirement of being an authentic conservative.
    As for Stooksbury, he appears to be capable only of reacting to the latest “outrage” from more widely-known conservative talk show hosts or bloggers.  His recent denunciations of the “bloviating” Limbaugh for a shaky claim about a dog-whistling Obama campaign selling hoodies, while ignoring the far more egregious sins of the media (NBC doctoring 911 calls to make Zimmerman look like a racist and the utterly ridiculous play-the-record-backwards-and-hear-him-say-“coon” nuttery of CNN) speaks volumes. If the guy wishes to present himself as a “true conservative,” it would help if he provide a positive description of what such a conservatism would be like, rather than denouncing his critics as mindless FOX News drones.

  16. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    April 4th, 2012 @ 3:23 pm

    Of course.  Just on the cursory information we know for certain (which is not that much), it is not enough to establish guilt or innocence either way (and the default is innocence).  Either the evidence supports an arrest or it doesn’t.  I assume the lack of charges so far supports it doesn’t (but of course we know how feckless politicians are and enough outcry may result in charges being imposed).  

    But here is a story on possibly some karma…

  17. Adobe_Walls
    April 4th, 2012 @ 7:30 pm

    Unless a witness who the police have already talked to is lying he’ll beat any politically motivated charges.