what if you aren't nice but you just don't like meanness?

In a piece titled "Attention Conservatives: Nice Guys Do Finish Last," John Hawkins responds to Adam Graham's argument that conservatives shouldn't play dirty.

I read Hawkins regularly, and I like his blog. Although I don't consider myself especially nice, the point of this post is not to take sides in this dispute so much as it is to make an admission by way of disclosure (at the risk of repeating myself).

In his rebuttal to Adams, Hawkins (who is in a position to know these things, so I won't fact check him), makes a couple of observations I just can't ignore:

it's worth noting that Ann Coulter is the single most popular conservative columnist in America...
So noted.

And this:

Moreover, the Right is slowly but surely narrowing the media gap. For example, WorldNetDaily -- which Mr. Graham disparagingly mentions -- gets more traffic than the Associated Press and the top seven conservative talk radio hosts alone reach more than 60 million people a week combined.
The problem is, Ann Coulter irritates me and I can't stand WorldNetDaily. (I feel guilty for not disparaging that dishonest outfit even more.)

If Coulter and WND are "the Right," then to that extent, I'm very definitely not.

Nor can I stand Michael Savage. Yet the man is often described as a conservative. (No references are necessary here, as I don't want to be seen as picking fights. But trust me. He is routinely called a conservative -- by conservatives.)

My point is, if Ann Coulter, WorldNetDaily, and Michael Savage represent conservativism, then I have a huge problem with conservatism, and I cannot call myself a conservative.

If the Birth Certificate Truthers (a major WND movement -- and for me the straw that broke the camel's back) represent conservatism, then I cannot call myself a conservative.

Whether conservatives "should" play more dirty, I don't know. (Playing dirty is the nature of politics, and no one can change that.)

I only know that by the standards of Coulter, Savage, WND, and the Birth Certificate Truthers, I am not a conservative, and will never be one.

This is not to say that I would not vote for a conservative over a liberal. I would do so unhesitatingly, as I have many times. My problem is that I'm lacking in the enthusiasm factor, and I would be dishonest if I did not admit it.

Yesterday, Glenn Reynolds linked a piece which maintains that "conservatives need to fire the marketing department." I understand the point. But how do you fire what conservatives like?

OTOH, might my complaints involve just a matter of taste? If I happen not to like certain personalities, certain styles of writing, and certain beliefs, should these things go to the way I define myself? I mean, it's not as if someone set up a conservative litmus test which says that if you are a conservative, you have to like Ann Coulter, Michael Savage, and WorldNetDaily, and you have to believe Barack Obama was born in Kenya, so perhaps I'm being illogical and I'm setting up an unreasonable test.

Is there some pressing reason I should have to decide between liberal and conservative? Where was that rule written, and who wrote it? Liberals and conservatives? Perhaps it's time to return to basics. After all, rejecting these labels was a primary reason I started this blog.

UPDATE: Deafening Silence links this post with some interesting observations. Thanks!

posted by Eric on 05.08.09 at 10:33 AM


It's hard for me to take Coulter and Savage seriously. It seems to me they are purposely provocative, acting that way to get a rise out of people. I don't think you can seriously consider them pundits.

So I agree with you. If that's really conservative, count me out. If conservative is represented by pundits such as Charles Krauthammer, Bernie Goldberg, Victor David Hanson, and Jonah Goldberg, to name a few, then you can usually count me in.

SteveBrooklineMA   ·  May 8, 2009 11:48 AM

Coulter is fierce and funny--and often submerges serious and important points in an unnecessarily nasty style.

Savage? I don't know what to call him, but he's not really a social conservative, not a libertarian. He's sort of a conservative/populist fusion, and I don't like him. Even when he makes valid points, he does so with intentionally inflammatory language: "Mud People," for example.

I've submitted a response to PajamasMedia to both Adam Graham and John Hawkins that I hope that they publish.

Clayton E. Cramer   ·  May 8, 2009 12:18 PM

I linked this and added some thoughts of my own. I don't always agree with you, but this time I do.

Lynne   ·  May 8, 2009 1:18 PM

I am a conservative and proud of it. I enjoy Coulter because she skewers liberals. She is amusing. But I do not like Savage, he is too mean. I think Rush is correct but bombastic.

So because you do not like these strident voices of conservatism does not mean that that you are not a conservative.

Conservatism is matter of values and principles. The most basic principle is that we are free people and that we do not need much government since we can govern ourselves. The issue a lot have is the increasing amount of government that rules our lives. You have to wear a seatbelt or be penalized. Your children must wear bike helmet and that is mandated. They have usurped my personal authority over my family and myself.

The federal government is truly only needed for a few functions.

1) Common defense
2) To ensure a system of standards for interstate commerce.
3) Interstate highways part of the interstate commerce need.
4) A standard system of currency
5) System of law and justice to an impartial system.
6) (Purpose to eliminate family, clan feuds last generations)

There is no overwhelming need for federal government for medical care, education and welfare. Charity should be private and personal and not a state extortion scheme.
The state should not pick sides in society like in the cronyism of Obama and the UAW vs. Chrysler bondholders.

That is just a brief example of conservatism. Those individuals do not define but are just the most successful in promoting them. They have a microphone and an audience. You do not have to be that audience.

Your emotional reaction should not override your rational reasons to support conservatism. Your emotional reaction is understandable but the conservatism is not so narrow that you have to like or approve of these vocal people of Coulter, Savage and Rush. Just be thankful they are not political candidates.

RAH   ·  May 9, 2009 6:03 PM

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