January 6, 2007

Who's calling you conservative?

I thought I was being annoying yesterday when I dredged up more evidence to use in my longstanding effort to convince you that I'm a political moderate, but it turned out that a lot of people got into taking the same test and comparing scores. It even got back to Andrew Sullivan, who was the one who prompted me to take the test in the first place. Sullivan now takes note of the fact that he's to the right of Glenn Reynolds and me. Sullivan has been engaged in an effort to convince people that he is conservative, and this is obviously important to him since he's titled his book "The Conservative Soul." Clearly, he was not happy at being chosen as the "Most Annoying Liberal" by Right Wing News. And it wasn't the "annoying" part at all. He didn't even mention that. Bloggers don't mind being annoying. It's kind of the point.

But Glenn Reynolds -- as far as I know -- doesn't claim to be conservative, and neither do I. We're just people who are perceived by other people as conservative, much as Andrew himself gets called liberal. And you don't have to look hard for the reason. It's all about the war. If you support the war, you get so many bonus "conservative" points that it doesn't matter what you think about anything else. And if you oppose the war, you get your bonus "liberal" points.

Now, Sullivan wants extra "conservative" credit for being "to the right of Glenn." But in order to think that means anything, you have to first accept the significance of the people who characterize Glenn as a right-winger, and then you're buying into the whole sordid matrix that gets Andrew called "liberal."

So what's the point of all this? Just blogging. Being annoying. Waiting for the "Most Annoying Centrist" contest.

35 comments:

Gerry said...

Andrew Sullivan is perceived to be the left of where he perceives himself (and, to be fair, where he may actually be) not because of his stance on the war, but more because his personalization of conservative opposition to gay marriage has caused him to go bat-s*** on the offensive against anyone religious.

It is the same reason that conservatives are more comfortable with Rudy than with McCain. McCain is probably more conservative, but McCain spends a tremendous amount of face time trying to win favor with non-conservatives by attacking conservatives.

You are another good example, Ann. You often times express complete disagreement with conservatives. But by and large, conservatives like and respect you. That is one reason that the Liberty Fund dustup struck so many on the right as odd; it was not like you to turn a disagreement over principles into an attack on the humanity of conservatives (or, later, libertarians).

Ann Althouse said...

Gerry, my attack was on the hardcore libertarians. I expressed a new appreciation for conservatives of the Burkean kind. I like liberatarian principles, but not in the way that entails excessive devotion to abstract principles without grounding in the real world of human problems. You can call that an attack on their humanity if you want, but in fact I think it is human nature to want to simplify things into abstractions and then use those abstractions to ignore human suffering. But I thought it was extremely important to point that out, and I was treated incredibly nastily for doing that. They retreated into a low form of argument, claiming I'd just called them racists and wasn't that outrageous of me. I wish you wouldn't buy into that mess.

Dave said...

"I think it is human nature to want to simplify things into abstractions and then use those abstractions to ignore human suffering"

Well it can be inferred from your comment that you believe instead of ignoring human suffering we should look to government to alleviate such suffering. The track record of government's success in such is dismal at best.

LoafingOaf said...

he was not happy at being chosen as the "Most Annoying Liberal" by Right Wing News

I think he is happy when he gets to say he's been "excommunicated," and he leaps to call former allies his "enemies" even if the other person doesn't consider himself an enemy. His conservative soul is so pure it can't abide the state of conservativism today.

It makes him feel like Orwell, or what happened to Hitchens on the Left, or something. I think he loves it and wanted it to happen, so it would be part of his biography that he got excommunicated.

DonSurber said...

Centrist?
Loudon Wainwright III's old song keeps wafting through my head on that one ...

Paco Wové said...

"Who's calling you conservative?"

People with severe spelling and typewriting issues, mostly.

Anonymous said...

Let's see. Glen is pro gay-marriage, pro legalization of drugs, pro-choice, and supports the war.

Yep, sounds like a right winger to me! I think part of his identification as a conservative comes from the support for the war, but there is something else going on.

Glen appreciates facts. He likes data. Measurements are his friend. These are not modern leftist traits. Modern leftists value ideology above data, and that does not apply to Glen. Nor to you, gentle hostess. That is why I think you are both so confusing to the left leaning and why we on the right appreciate reading what you say even when we disagree.

Trey

Gerry said...

"Gerry, my attack was on the hardcore libertarians."

Eventually, yes, I agree.

Your first post on the subject, IIRC, did not limit your attack in that regard. You may have been thinking that, but it did not come out until later.

LoafingOaf said...

It's all about the war. If you support the war, you get so many bonus "conservative" points that it doesn't matter what you think about anything else. And if you oppose the war, you get your bonus "liberal" points.

Which is weird because supporting going into Iraq to bring democracy was not a "conservative" policy.

It was funny when Hitchens and Sullivan were on Paula Zahn's show in November and Zahn introduced them as "a couple of conservatives." Hitchens wasn't having it. Here's the YouTube.

Gerry said...

And I really did not mean to keep harping on that. In the grand scheme of things, it does not really bother me and I think there is a lot of 'she said/she said' that is impossible for someone not there to cut through. I was just trying to make a simple point about conservatives, and religious conservatives in particular. We have been demonized so much in the past decade and a half that when someone who is actually a liberal treats us with respect, we tend to feel that person is 'one of us,' or one of the people who fit into the way we want the world to be. When one of our own plays into the demonization, like McCain does at times and like Sullivan does all the time now, we tend to think of them as being on the other side of the aisle.

I apologize for bringing that other mess up as a data point in making my case. It needlessly came across as harping and attacking.

peter hoh said...

I'm thinking of the Saturday Night Live skit, "Who's a Jew?" recast as a bunch of bloggers sitting around and playing "Who's a conservative?"

SteveR said...

Andrew Sullivan.. and he is important because....

Oh well, I guess we have to have someone to stir things up but beyond being a "victum" and pissing folks off, he's never distinguish himself from the 100 million or so Americans who have formed opinions.

Even though I got nearly the same score as him on he quiz, I'd rather have a beer with James Carville.

Simon said...

We should have Justice Stevens take the test. ;)

Simon said...

Gerry, I think that really the most that can be said was that those posts were unclear. I don't think Ann's argument actually changed as time went on, which seems to be the implication of your comments, it's just that it was initially expressed terms that made its focus unclear.

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks, Simon. I think what happened, Gerry, is that I deliberately wrote a personal, impressionistic style of post because I did not want to say anything bad about anyone. I had done something that was meaningful to me, but I didn't want to disrespect anyone, especially Jonathan Adler, who put the conference together. But when Ron Bailey launched a huge, conspicuous, brutal attack on me, I was forced to say more. I have still held back from saying everything I could say, even about the brutish Bailey.

Moanique said...

But by and large, conservatives like and respect you.

Conservatives have always liked hot blondes. Plenty of evidence for that.

(Just lightening the mood)

Gerry said...

Simon,

I did not mean to infer her intention changed or that her argument changed. I thought I had that covered when I said "You may have been thinking that, but it did not come out until later."

Anonymous said...

Sounds like, Days of our lives

in_the_middle said...

I think you've created a club of people so obsessed with Andrew Sullivan it's becoming clinical. He's annoying, he's intelligent, he's a good writer, he can prove a point, he can be wrong. All at the same time, even. No reason to toss and turn just because you disagree or don't like him calling out theocrats.

Kirby Olson said...

There's a weird shift afoot amongst the two big parties. The Democrats are more in favor of control of freedom of speech. This is something that came out of the Maoism of the 60s feminism, and out of movements like SDS that aligned themselves with Mao, and then with many in English departments and humanities departments who read Tel Quel from France: Lacan, Derrida, Foucault, Barthes, and Kristeva were all Maoists for a long period in the seventies.

As a result the left has gotten more authoritarian. And this has oozed its way into the Democratic party via a long trickle-down effect.

Meanwhile the right has gotten more libertarian or anarchist especially in terms of freedom of speech. The right has been the one to attack the speech codes that have sprung up on campuses across the nation transforming them into a new Gulag archipelago.

In the last election you could see the effect: the Democrats had to carefully control their speech in order to please the growing minority of crypto-Maoists in their ranks who want to control porno, and to control any kind of artistic endeavor that doesn't spout the party line.

Meanwhile the right has actually increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and is increasingly finding a point of attack in terms of the authoritarian aspects of the leftist adoption of political correctness rather than freedom of speech.

The left has now defined the left as authoritarian. Meanwhile, Bush has actually been fighting for the freedom of women and Democratic voting rights in Afghanistan and Iraq and has largely achieved this. The left is oddly enough against this spread of liberty.

They actually favor the Islamic model in which the government controls speech because it resembles their own wish to control speech.

The left used to have a large anarchist orientation but that has been throttled by Maoists. The left is now an authoritarian monstrosity as a result, and the right is liberal and decent.

There's been a shift, and I think this is part of what Ann has picked up on? Any clarification to that effect would be appreciated.

John Kindley said...

Ann said: "If you support the war, you get so many bonus "conservative" points that it doesn't matter what you think about anything else."

That's why I can't figure out why I like your blog so much, Ann. You're pretty much a social and economic lefty who happens to support the Iraq war, and as a Quaker (with socially and economically libertarian/conservative leanings), support for preemptive war is one attitude nowadays considered (dubiously) to be "conservative" that I generally don't buy into.

I think gerry hits the nail on the head: "We have been demonized so much in the past decade and a half that when someone who is actually a liberal treats us with respect, we tend to feel that person is 'one of us,' or one of the people who fit into the way we want the world to be."

As to the Liberty Fund dustup, I read and wallowed in it all, and I have to say, and have said (probably one too many times), that based just on that messy and onerous written record with its lengthy explanations and recriminations, the libertarian faction came off better imho. But as gerry also points out, there is so much of a "she said/she said/he said" quality to the mess (what with the alleged smirking and all), that not having been there I give Ann the benefit of a doubt and recognize that it's impossible for me to really judge who was right and who was wronged. As one of Ann's true blue fans, I've moved on.

Simon said...

John - I'm not sure why there is any need to sit on the fence on the matter. While we may not know precisely what went on in Chicago, we do know that amidst all the sturm und drang raised by other attendees, not one has yet rebutted Ann's central criticism. Instead, so far as I've seen, they have evaded the point, repeated the same empty generalities that provoked her criticism in the first place and most of all, criticized her, which is tantamount to conceding the point. As far as I'm concerned -- concedely, I'm not exactly a neutral observer, but in my (preemptive) defense, I've never hesitated to voice disagreement or criticism of Ann's views when I've disagreed with them -- this is an open and shut case, and it did not end well for the libertarians.


in_the_middle said...
"No reason to toss and turn just because you ... don't like him calling out theocrats."

One of Sullivan's problem is that he has an extraordinarily broad definition of what constitutes a "theocrat" for him to call out. To consider Bush to be a theocrat is to abjure any desire to have people think you have a grip on the meaning of the term.

Ben Masel said...

"Most annoying Centrist?"

Liberman in a landslide.

Freder Frederson said...

Well let's see, why do we think Ann is a conservative?

She takes every opportunity she can to bash Kerry and Democrats in general including jumping on the far right "smearing the troops bandwagon" shortly before the election.

She voted for Bush (twice?), the second (?) time when it was clear his war policy was leading us into disaster.

She defended the treatment of Padilla by positing an absolutely ridiculous explanation for the use of goggles and sound deadening headphones for his trip to the dentist. When called on it, refused to explain or defend her laughable comment.

Ann Althouse said...

Freder: "Well let's see, why do we think Ann is a conservative? She takes every opportunity she can to bash Kerry and Democrats in general including jumping on the far right "smearing the troops bandwagon" shortly before the election.
She voted for Bush (twice?), the second (?) time when it was clear his war policy was leading us into disaster."

First of all, anyone familiar with this blog should know I voted for Al Gore in 2000. Second, plenty of Democrats don't like Kerry! Third, there used to be something called a "Liberal Hawk." Democrats have tried to oust anyone with this description from their party. E.g., Lieberman. It's a huge problme. Fourth, the thing about the goggles is too stupid to keep responding to and does not represent me generally abusing of the mistreatment of criminals. You're just looking for ways to attack me and push me out of the party. You want it to become an antiwar, leftist party. I don't.

Freder Frederson said...

You're just looking for ways to attack me and push me out of the party. You want it to become an antiwar, leftist party. I don't.

No, the appropriate response to the Padilla thing would have been to say "that was a really stupid comment, I can't believe I would actually posit that Padilla could send coded messages by blinking--and of course that doesn't even explain the headphones. The treatment of Padilla is just inexcusable." Instead, when called on your very silly post, you just got all defensive and refused to explain yourself or even state where you stood on the issue of Padilla's treatment. You just made vague statements to the effect of "I didn't say I agreed with the treatment, I was just offering an explanation". This btw is a favorite trick of the so-called libertarian bloggers like Volokh and instapundit (I say "so-called" because I don't know how anyone can claim to be a libertarian and yet earn their living at a public university). They make outrageous claims (e.g., Reynolds claims we might have to kill all the Arabs), but couch it in terms that allow them to deny that they ever said that, they were only discussing "hypotheticals" or "positing what may happen if current trends continue", certainly they weren't advocating such an extreme position. They were just "putting it out there" to ponder.

Democrats have tried to oust anyone with this description from their party. E.g., Lieberman. It's a huge problme.

As Ronald Reagan would say, "there you go again". You parrot the right wing talk points yet want us to believe you are a reasonable centrist. Lieberman was not marginalized because of his support of the war (not to mention that in the primary he had the support of the Democratic party), but because of the way he treated other Democrats himself. He chose his slavish devotion to the war in Iraq to loyalty to his party and attacked Democrats who dared question the conduct of the war.

I honestly don't see where this belief of a huge anti-war Democratic party comes from. The party and Congress as a whole has given the president everything he wants in this war and even now that they are in control is not talking about cutting off funding or demanding immediate withdrawal. Do not confuse disgust with the misguided and mishandled war in Iraq with being anti-war in general.

Ann Althouse said...

So, Freder, you want me to act as though I said something I didn't say so that I can set up an occasion to denounce myself as stupid. This is an invitation I must decline. Sorry to disappoint!

Freder Frederson said...

Meanwhile the right has gotten more libertarian or anarchist especially in terms of freedom of speech. The right has been the one to attack the speech codes that have sprung up on campuses across the nation transforming them into a new Gulag archipelago.

In the last election you could see the effect: the Democrats had to carefully control their speech in order to please the growing minority of crypto-Maoists in their ranks who want to control porno, and to control any kind of artistic endeavor that doesn't spout the party line.


You wouldn't know a Maoist if one hit you over the head with a copy of his little red book. Throwing around the names of a bunch of deconstructionists and European intellectuals hardly means the Democratic party is being taken over by "crypto-Maoists", whatever the hell that is. (I guess that is someone who's little red book is written in code.)

It wasn't a Democratic Attorney General that put drapes over a neo-classical sculpture because he was apparently offended by a pair of exposed breasts or is constantly trying to find the exact language to catch the next pornographer without offending the constitution. It isn't the Democratic party that touts "family" and "traditional" values to consistently convince middle and working class people to vote against their economic interests.

Who exactly are these crypto-Marxists? Can you name one?

Meanwhile the right has actually increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and is increasingly finding a point of attack in terms of the authoritarian aspects of the leftist adoption of political correctness rather than freedom of speech.

And I'm sure when we replace all those nasty nudes and Jasper Johns' paintings with Dogs Playing Poker in our art museums the art of the people will have triumphed.

Freder Frederson said...

So, Freder, you want me to act as though I said something I didn't say so that I can set up an occasion to denounce myself as stupid. This is an invitation I must decline. Sorry to disappoint!

Are you now denying that you said a reason they put goggles on Padilla when they took him for dental work may have been to prevent him from blinking messages to someone?

If so, I am getting delusional, because I am certain I read it.

Freder Frederson said...

Perhaps I can refresh your memory:

Ann Althouse said...

Eli: Perhaps there is a fear that he [Padilla] will communicate in code by blinking.
6:30 AM, December 05, 2006


We all say stupid things. Heck I say them all the time. Admitting you have said something stupid is sometimes hard. But when it comes to someone who we have apparently driven insane through almost four years of complete isolation and now, soviet style, we are apparently going to lock up in a psychiatric hospital, because he is too psychotic to stand trial, I think if you want to claim you are a centrist, you really should admit this was a really boneheaded thing to say.

Ann Althouse said...

Freder: Put it back in context and it's obvious to anyone who isn't just trying to attack me that I was only responding to someone who asserted as an absolute that there couldn't possibly be a reason. That's an assertion that is falsified by the existence of any possible reason for putting goggles on the man during transport. The actual likelihood of it being the case is beside the point. And it was just an offhand remark in a comments thread, not even a post. Get over it.

Freder Frederson said...

Put it back in context and it's obvious to anyone who isn't just trying to attack me that I was only responding to someone who asserted as an absolute that there couldn't possibly be a reason. That's an assertion that is falsified by the existence of any possible reason for putting goggles on the man during transport. The actual likelihood of it being the case is beside the point. And it was just an offhand remark in a comments thread, not even a post. Get over it.

Sheesh, keep digging. This from a woman who was absolutely certain Kerry meant to insult the intelligence of the troops, not the president. The problem is, in retrospect, your "possible reason" wasn't a "possible reason" at all. He was being taken to a prison dentist within the same facility and the only people seeing him were his guards. Who on earth could he possible transmit a message to? The only possible explanation for the goggles and sound deadening headset (have you ever worn them, they are designed for hearing protection in loud work environments) were to continue his regime of sensory deprivation.

And whether or not it was an "offhand remark" in a comment thread, once the blogosphere jumped on it (especially when Jesus' General came to your defense and suggested that a more plausible theory might be the "he-shoots-deadly-Islamolasers-out-of-his-eyes theory". As with Kerry's "botched joke" about not studying and ending up in Iraq, once the bloggers get ahold of something and savage you for it, it might be wise to clarify your point or admit an unfortunate choice of words and not simply claim "I never said such a thing" or "it was taken out of context", especially if you truly want people to believe you really are a centrist.

Second, plenty of Democrats don't like Kerry!

Can't disagree with you there. I didn't like Kerry when he ran in 2004 and I don't like him now. I thought he came off as a pompous ass while at the same time did not stand on the principles he should have stood on and did not fight back against the attacks and smears from the Bush campaign and others. But I worked for hard for him and voted for him because I thought Bush was and is a disaster.

You however, don't just dislike Kerry, you seem to despise the man, and seemingly because of his personality, not because you think his policies are particularly bad. When you attack Kerry, it generally also devolves into a general attack on Democratic policies in general. Maybe I read this blog with a slant, but it seems that you rarely criticize either the president or the Republicans with the vitriol you save for Kerry on the Democrats. I would expect a "Centrist" to find as much fault on both sides of the aisle.

Apparently, the war was the deciding factor for you in the '04 campaign. But other than tough talk, what were the actual policy differences between the two candidates? Did either set out a coherent set of realistic policies that addressed the real problems in Iraq? The very same problems that have just festered and gotten worse over the last two years.

Charles Giacometti said...

For the record, I don't find you conservative at all. You are an uncritical partisan of Bush and the rest of the Republican leadership. Since they aren't conservative, you aren't either. Bush is a profligate spender who has no interest in balancing the budget. He is reckless abroad, pursuing personal vendettas (Iraq) when the real enemy remains elsewhere. And he believes in giving the federal government unprecedented powers over end of life decisions (the Schiavo debacle) and other kinds of invasions of privacy.

None of these are conservative positions, so anyone who supports Bush is not a conservative; they are simply a supporter of Bush.

Like your hero Instarube, you sprung a leak on 9/11, and haven't had a coherent thought since. So you might think you are conservative or not conservative, liberal or not liberal, but really you merely are a weird mix of poorly considered positions, all driven by your anxiety and your lack of an ability to think critically.

Oh, and like Instarube, your photography sucks.

John Kindley said...

On second thought, I'm revising my previous simplistic characterization of Althouse as a lefty hawk, since she did apparently support the confirmations of Roberts and Alito to the Supreme Court, and that supports her claim that she's a moderate in one of the ways that matter most.

Anonymous said...

Those tests are easily gamed, even if one admits they might be relevent to determining where on the political spectrum people fall.

Anyway, Andrew Sullivan is far far to the left of either you or Glen Reynolds. Both you and Glen are moderates, as can easily be seen by actually reading a spectrum of political blogs.

I suspect Glen is more 'right' than you are, but he's still in the 'moderate' band that Sullivan covets.