Sunday, January 23, 2005In the back-and-forth between Peter Robinson and Jonah Goldberg, Robinson made a comment in this post that I found particularly interesting. Says Robinson:
P.S. Sorry if I sounded pompous in citing the objections to the speech of WFB, Peggy, and myself. What I meant was not that the three of us represent some sort of Grand Council of Rhetoricians, but that if the three of us found the inaugural address grating, lots of others are very likely to have done so as well--and that if a president grates on his own supporters, something in his rhetoric is likely awry.
Emphasis mine. This is revealing on one level, troublesome one another. First, it's revealing that Robinson assumes that many of the President's supporters are on the same wavelength as Peggy Noonan, William F. Buckley and himself. A handful of National Review readers might think so, but as for the rest of the country: hardly. I'd go so far as to say that maybe - maybe - a quarter of the President's votes came from people who read such publications. They probably know who Noonan and WFB are, and they might read an op-ed piece, particularly if Rush or Hannity has referred them to it. But do they give the President's speech that much thought? Not at all. Your average Bush voter heard that speech and cheered, because they heard words like "ownership society" and a lot of talk about liberty and peace and freedom and security. It is unlikely that Robinson is alone in his thinking, and I find it very revealing that many inside the Beltway have such a profound misunderstanding of the bulk of their party.
At the same time, I find it troubling that so many Bush voters remain only vaguely aware of intellectual conservatism. Sure, they watch Hannity & Colmes and check out George Will's syndicated pieces, but that's about where it stops. Now, let me say that I realilze many, many folks just don't have the time to read each issue of all the major conservative publications. Nor do they have the time or interest in spending an hour a day perusing the blogosphere. But consider this: there's been a great deal of discussion about God-blogs, especially on the part of Hugh Hewitt and the Evangelical Outpost. I sympathize here, because while I write primarily about politics and culture, I am a Christian and certainly this takes a role in my blogging. Yet how many God-blogs, especially the political ones, noticed that William F. Buckley and Peggy Noonan - two giants in the conservative movement - took issue with the President's speech?
I've talked before about how I'm bothered that the major conservative publications don't have many writers from the red states. Nor do they have many evanglicals. In fact, I can only think of two - Hugh Hewitt and Fred Barnes, both at the Weekly Standard. Hugh's talked a lot about influence, and Joe Carter's doing a great job gathering traffic for the God-blogs, but we should not limit ourselves to the blogosphere. There will always be a place for conservative publications like the Standard, NR and Commentary. At what point will evangelicals make a concerted effort to be a full-fledged part of intellectual conservatism? Not just the blogs or social activism of the Dobson variety. Both of these things are good. Indeed, they have become crucial to party mobilization. Yet, if as they claim, evangelicals have something to offer conservatism (and I believe we do), then we should seek to become a part of all aspects of the movement. Are we trying?