by Ron Coleman | October 19, 2008 10:49 am
Ross Douthat, via Insty, describes his vision of “the conservative cocoon”:
The cocoon is the constellation of mutually-reinforcing conservative institutions – think tanks and advocacy groups, talk-radio shows and websites – that can create the same echo-chamber effect that the liberal media has long produced, and that at times makes it difficult for the Right to grapple with reality.
I’m with him this far. Think “Fred Thompson.”
The cocoon is the place where it took an awfully, awfully long time for conservatives to admit that the post-2004 crisis in Iraq wasn’t just a matter of an MSM that wouldn’t report the good news.
Uh oh. Losing me. Am I still in the cocoon? Am I the cocoon? Wait:
The cocoon is the place where conservatives persuaded themselves, in defiance of most of the evidence, that the reason the GOP lost Congress in 2006 was excessive spending, and especially excessive pork.
Would love to see that evidence, though he’s probably onto something there.
And today, the cocoon is the place where conservatives are busy convincing themselves that Sarah Palin’s difficulties handling high-profile media appearances aren’t terribly important, that her instincts are more important than her grasp of national policy, and that the best way to defeat Barack Obama is to start with the lines that Palin has used on the stump – Ayers, anti-Americanism and ACORN – and take them to eleven.
“Take them to eleven” — that’s a reference to a joke from “This is Spinal Tap,” ok? So, he’s probably mostly right, except about Iraq… and that’s a big except… but what does this get him?
So when I say that a populist conservatism needs elites, what I really mean is that it needs elites who can step outside this cocoon and see national politics more clearly – whether they work for conservative outlets, MSM outlets, or something else entirely.
Why do we need elites for that? I’m not even sure how he’s using the concept of “elites.” Does he mean opinion leaders, but ones who agree with him more?
This is not, I repeat not, a matter of listening to Beltway conventional wisdom instead of the practical wisdom of the heartland. It’s a matter of recognizing political realities, instead of denying them outright – whether you’re in DC, New Hampshire, or Wasilla.
Now, again, he sounds sensible, I think…
The Sarah Palin who ran for statewide office in Alaska appeared to understand this, which is why she seemed like such a promising figure to me months before McCain selected her: As governor, she was conservative and pragmatic, right-of-center and anti-ideological. The trouble is that since she’s burst on to the national stage, she’s entered a right-wing world that’s bent on, well, cocooning her – telling her how great she is regardless of whether she gets up to speed on policy and handles Katie Couric’s questions, feeding her lines that appeal primarily to the segment of the electorate that’s already in conservatism’s corner, and calling out anyone who criticizes her as a cocktail-swilling elitist.
Well, that could be. I have found some of my fellow conservative bloggers to lack the degree of intellectual suppleness with which I might enjoy interacting more. But — what’s his tactical point? It’s two weeks and goal. Does he want to send Sarah Palin out to Professor Henry Higgins? She isn’t going to pick up that masters from the Woodrow Wilson School between now and Election Day, and it would hardly matter if she did, would it?
She needs to pick up rocks, mud and pointed sticks. And do her worst with ’em. Because, Ross, that’s what we’re down to. And I ain’t spinning you no silk here.
Cross-posted on Likelihood of Success, Ron Coleman’s fairly obscure blog.
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