Ron Rosenbaum, Writer

October 11, 2009

Do the Commenters Here Represent the Average Intelligence of Conservatives?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 8:13 pm

I’m just curious,on anthroplogical grounds.

Let’s try an experiment that will help me better understand the anonymous cowards who use a screen name to escape responsiblitlity for the infantile insults better suited to the short bus. Are you the true face of conservatism?

The reason I ask is that I know quite a few intelligent, literate, thoughtful conservatives and none of them sound like the many semi-literate haters who embarass themselves here. (and yes I have condemned “Bushitler” type haters on the left).

Why is that? Or was I deceived by knowing intelligent convetvatives and not aware that the anonymous haters here are more typical?

So here’s the experiment. Conservatism I always thought was about preserving the lasting values and achievments of our civilization. So I hope you won’t mind if I ask: Do you read any books aside from right wing screeds? You don’t sound like you do, but I could be wrong. So please name the last classic work of literature you’ve read in the past year (or decade) and tell me in a few words why you thought it was valuable (aside from some cartoonish political lesson). Just so I’ll know you’re not faking it. How about something published before the twentieth century that you didn’t read as a school assignment but because you are a conscientious conserver of our intellectual heritage.

And, hey, for those of you who cower in anonymity because you think the black helicopters will get you, here’s your chance to use your real name in a non controversial context you won’t have to be afraid about. (Or ahsamed if your neighbors knew your frothing side). Try it, putting your name behind your words. I know it’s scary to you, but it’ll be worth it because of what you’ll gain in self-respect.

By the way the fact that the nominations for the Nobel closed in February doesn’t mean that the voting took place then. Perhaps it will help you grasp this concept if you try to wrap your mind around the idea that American political nominating conventions are not the same as the elections. I don’t think Obama was the only deserving candidate, and I’m sure politics played a role in his selection, but pushing the issue of nuclear weapons to the forefront of the international agenda is a valid reason for giving him the prize, since it has the the power to change the fate of the earth.

Okay let’s hear some intelligent discussion about books you’ve read. Surprise me.

*typos fixed version.



  1. No, the voting took place after the Copenhagen rejection. The voting is done by five Norwegians, two of whom are members of the august Norwegian Parliament. As for reading, I am far to the left on most issues but very hawkish on Islamofascism. I supported Obama but think his “phenomenon” most closely resembles the election of Harding, who, at the nine month point in his administration was the most beloved, charismatic and (joke alert) allegedly black President in American history. Like Obama, Harding was goodlooking and gave alot of speeches. His Secretary of State, Francis Kellogg, won the Nobel Peace Prize for the Kellogg-Briand Pact which promised to end war forever. (Gotta love those Norwegians) I am currently readin “Walter Lippman and the American Century” by Ronald Steel. Lippman (a journalist) was 25 when he went to work for Woodrow Wison. He managed the neat trick of getting himself and all his close Harvard friends draft exemptions AND jobs in the White House, from which they sent the rest of their generation to their deaths in Flanders field and looked the other way while Attorney General Palmer put most dissenters in jail. Thus began the plague of “liberalism” which poisons us to this day: when liberals are in power, they often discard their values and goals immediately. By the way, I have no problems with the anonymous bloggers here (and they are a tepid bunch compared to the rest of PM. What would be really scary is if they WERE to identify themselves!

    Comment by charlie finch — October 11, 2009 @ 8:46 pm | Reply

  2. I am currently reading “William James: In the Maelstrom of American Modernism.” It is excellent.

    Comment by vb — October 12, 2009 @ 8:17 am | Reply

  3. Here at PJM you have among your colleagues Richard Fernandez, Victor Davis Hanson and Roger Kimball, to name but three, not one of whom is any less intelligent or well read than you are. What’s more, all have regular commenters whose thoughtfulness and literacy belie the caricature of conservatives as cowardly knuckle-dragging yahoos with which you appear to be obsessed.

    This may come as a shock to you, but it’s quite possible such people avoid your blog not because you are a liberal but because you so often have nothing to offer but derision and contempt for anyone who comes here. Camille Paglia, Alan Dershowitz or Christopher Hitchens would probably do very well at PJM, not because their ideas are in lockstep with conservative thinking (obviously they are not) but because they are among the very few liberals who will engage with conservatives as equals instead of hectoring them at every turn as lower specimens of humanity. In any case I will no longer waste my time with your screeds.

    Comment by marymcl — October 12, 2009 @ 8:33 am | Reply

  4. To my mind the key to understanding Ron’s “screeds” is his strong identification with the Civil Rights movement of the Sixties. Ron lived it, felt it and internalized it. He tends, in my view, to filter the anti-Obama protests through the harsh memory of the Bull Connors, the Faubuses and the men who murdered Medgar Evers, Emmet Till and Goodman, Schwerner and Cheney. I do not fault him for doing this. The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama is the third part of a tripartite act, following the Peace prizes given to Ralph Bunche and Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. The award to Bunche was a major breakthrough at a time when the US media culture regarded political accomplishments by American blacks as non-existent, bordering on impossible. The award to Dr. King was a major shock, precisely because King was perceived by all sides as an anti-establishment radical. What is surprising about the Obama award is the universal derision about it, ESPECIALLY from the liberal media, where liberal talking heads are joking about it, precisely because they see how superficial and manipulative Obama’s people are. The Mark Halperins, Chuck Todds, Chip Reads, etc. are tired of being jerked around. John Harwood, on MSNBC, dismissed Obama’s gay speech by noting that the Administration sees 90% Democratic poll approval for Obama and thus doesn’t feel the need to advance “issues from the fringe”. Harwood even quoted someone presumed to be Rahm Emmanuel that “the liberal bloggers should get out of their pajamas and realize how hard it is to run a government.” So, folks (and Ron), the Obamaites aren’t concerned about the right wing blogosphere, THEY WANT TO SHUTUP THEIR OWN SUPPORTERS!!! This is the height of hubris and it gets to the fundamental point of what is wrong with Obama (and what differentiates him from FDR and JFK). Obama and his people see his election as a rubber stamp of their own vanity and not a mandate to represent the voter who responded to their calculated billboard message of “Hope and Change”. Rahm and the gang had better hope that there are no Harding type scandals lurking in the Obama Administration, or they will collapse like a house of cards.

    Comment by charlie finch — October 12, 2009 @ 8:57 am | Reply

  5. that’s “Chaney”, by the way

    Comment by charlie finch — October 12, 2009 @ 8:59 am | Reply

  6. Ron, currently I am reading Hell’s Angels by Hunter S. and Explaining Hitler, author unknown. The past two weeks I have re-read Hamlet and Will & Me by Dromgoole, as well as Democracy in America. I normally post under my first name, Bryan, why of which I have explained several times. I would give you a brief description but am a terrible writer and have a hard time clarifying my thoughts.
    Any thoughts on the Jude Law Hamlet or the Hoffman Othello?

    Comment by Bryan Veronneau — October 12, 2009 @ 7:28 pm | Reply

  7. Dear Ron,

    I wish conservatives and Liberals [the genuine Libs like you] weren’t at such odds with each other. It kinda saddens my heart that we can’t find more common ground rather than vitriol.

    What am I reading?

    I just finished:

    “Veronika Decides to Die” by Paulo Coelho

    “Whose Bible is it?” By Jaroslav Pelikan

    “Quantum Healing” by Deepak Chopra

    …And I’m still working on:

    “Man’s Search For Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl
    “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto” by Michael Pollan.


    Comment by Delia — October 12, 2009 @ 10:09 pm | Reply

  8. I just completed a section on the McNeill Clan in the southern Hebrides. If you want to see what sources I used (books and papers), go to my website, it makes me tired just thinking about it.

    I’ve been going at “The Great Siege of Malta, 1565” by Ernle Bradford, a second time through because it’s such a great read. Also, I have recently read (straight thro!) Bascomb’s Hunting Eichmann. And then there is Starkey’s book on the young Henry VIII; and Budiansky’s “Her Majesty’s Spymaster” (on Walsingham). Plus, I have read the Twilight Saga, a great romance, which I like reading while I’m on my treadmill. And I am putting together a short presentation (for relatives and friends) on the 6 wives of Henry VIII (now, THOSE times were awful, but not as awful as the 20th Century, nothing is as awful as the 20th except perhaps the 17th Century). Mattingly wrote a nice little study of Renaissance Diplomacy which I have read at night as a way to make me go to sleep.

    As to people today: I admire most Mark Steyn, Richard Fernandez, Noemie Emergy and Byron York.

    Yep, I am quite ignorant, I LOVE Twilight. I am going to the movie with my niece in November and can hardly wait.

    Comment by heathermc — October 13, 2009 @ 9:52 pm | Reply

  9. correction: Noemie Emery

    note to charlie finch: I have the next Charles Finch mystery on pre order (I think it is scheduled for this November??) Other mystery writers?: Ariana Franklin, Thomas Perry, Williford, etc etc. As to WWII: best writers are Rebecca West and Richard Overy. And of course, Churchill (great one on Afghanistan). I am planning on downloading Sir John McNeill’s pamphlet on Russia in Persia (early 1800s). I like books about vampires, especially the ones by Barbara Hambly.

    So, Ron, what are YOU reading lately?? I have to point out that I DON’T LIVE IN NY either, I live in the FAR NORTH OF CANADA, which means … what? No plays. hmmm.

    Comment by heathermc — October 13, 2009 @ 10:17 pm | Reply

  10. and, to nail down my bonafides, I have Palin’s “Going Rogue” on pre order. I am a member of Team Palin.

    Comment by heathermc — October 13, 2009 @ 10:27 pm | Reply

  11. it would be nice if Mr. Rosenbaum responded to this call out as quickly as he did with others. you ask for a bit of discussion and then desert us. thanks. i guess you save that for your academic sites… which from reading Shakespeare Wars you have an obvious affinity, as well as all academic approaches to literature. (sarcasim dripping off the keypad)

    Comment by bryan — October 14, 2009 @ 12:49 am | Reply

  12. Thank you, Heather, very much. Charlie’s book “The Fleet Street Murders” comes out in November from St. Martin’s Minotaur, which has signed him up to do Volumes 4 and 5.

    Comment by charlie finch — October 14, 2009 @ 3:53 am | Reply

  13. Last time I read genuine classics was while finishing the B. of Fine Arts degree I started at Okla. State in ’69 and wrapped up the summer of ’94 at the U of British Columbia. We had a distinguished visiting scholar from the U of Mass. named Norman Berlin, or was it Norman Irving? he shared one name and his heritage with the great songwriter. He taught the works of Eugene O’Neil and Shakespeare. And made me an enthusiastic fan of the Bard. My favorite series was Richard II, Henry IV, 1 & 2, and Henry V. The money quote for me was, “I know thee not, old man.” This further illustrated that the protagonist in the series was England, first and always.

    Comment by Gary Ogletree — October 17, 2009 @ 1:51 pm | Reply

  14. The last books I read were Victor KlempererĀ“s diaries (1933-1945), an account of Vasca da GamaĀ“s voyage to India, a Hornblower novel by C.S. Forester and a collection of essays by Theodore Dalrymple. I love talk radio. Let me make that clear.

    I donĀ“t appreciate being called a hater for opposing an administration and a party that has no scruples calling their opponents political terrorists, un-American and worse, and who go after media outlets if they donĀ“t toe the line. We didnĀ“t put a 9/11 truther in the White House. That was President Obama. We didnĀ“t make Rev. Wright his mentor. It was his choice, his long line of mistakes. Face it.

    Liberals gave him the nomination largely because of his race, so it is only natural that they believe opposition to him to be racial. But that is not my problem.

    I have never seen Obama read anything weightier than Fareed Zakaria, who is a tv personality. Just saying.

    Comment by El Gordo — October 18, 2009 @ 4:39 pm | Reply

  15. To me, the biggest mistake the conservatives make is their lack of curiosity about the black experience in America, which, because of the love that black Americans have for their country in spite of all the danger, is a great potential lesson for conservatives. For who has been more conservative than black Americans? The great institutions of segregated America, “The Chicago Defender”, the Duke Ellington Orchestra, Bessie Smith, Robert Johnson, Paul Robeson, Jackie Robinson, Ethel Waters and so many others were profoundly conservative in their promulgation of their own traditions, their recognition of the insurmountability of suffering and their yearning for God. Someone like WEB DuBois (like Robeson nominally a Communist) manufactured an essentially conservative program for black advancement, the “Talented Tenth”, in which the cleaning ladies and sleeping car porters and scuttle men and assembly line workers and women who took in washing were to devote their energies to the elevation of the sliver of their number with “talent”. Barack Obama is the culmination of DuBois 100 year program. However wrong he is on the issues and however superficial his persona, Obama is ripe for the picking by conservatives, if they would only try.

    Comment by charlie finch — October 18, 2009 @ 5:12 pm | Reply

  16. Charlie Finch, how exactly is Obama the culmination except in aesthetic terms? His actual experience couldnĀ“t be more different. And what does that mean, “ripe for the picking by conservatives”?

    Comment by El Gordo — October 19, 2009 @ 4:41 am | Reply

  17. He’s a bank slate, depthwise. So a little honey will get the fly.

    Comment by charlie finch — October 19, 2009 @ 6:13 am | Reply

  18. Charlie, one of my favorite commentators is Thomas Sowell. His book, Ethnic America, is magnificent. It is a pity there is nothing equivalent done about Canada’s ethnic groups.

    Other than that, I am merely an onlooker, upon this wholly American dilemma. Except, I must note that the US’s foreign interests have been a reflection of its ethnic groupings. The Boston Irish had their day (with some of their anger against the British Empire spilling over during WWII and after); and then there was American measures taken against South African Apartheid, in reaction to the African American political impact on US society. And the issue of the southern boundary with Mexico is all mixed up with “Hispanic” voters… The largish Asian groups will soon have impact on American measures with the Philippines, and even India.

    The USofA is amazingly welcoming to this disparate groups. And, as Thomas Sowell makes clear, each of them has contributed something different to the American ethos. The problems with the ‘diversity’ business is that it tries to manage this process. It is doing a lousy job of it.

    Obama? He is a fake intellectual, of the kind being pumped out by the now decadent ivy league universities.

    Comment by heathermc — October 19, 2009 @ 10:26 am | Reply

  19. I like Sowell. The point is that Obama and Sowell, as wildly different as they seen, are very close within the context of Black America. I am talking about the dialogues that go on within Black America, not the projections of white liberals onto the past. I have written in my column (on the Afam artist Kara Walker) that the guilt ridden yuppies of today would have proudly showed off their “purchase” on the auction block. This is because of the conflation between material excess and liberal dogma in our society. It matters less what Obama’s views are than that he exists at all. If conservatives were to actively court him, rather than fear him, they could co-opt him very easily. This political shapeshifting has been essential to American politics in the past and has been obscured by the shrill polarity of today’s simplistic discourse (the morons Olbermann and Beck make Father Coughlin and Alger Hiss seem tame by comparison).

    Comment by charlie finch — October 19, 2009 @ 4:12 pm | Reply

  20. Charlie Finch, IĀ“m sure you will say I just donĀ“t get it but this “forces of black history” stuff looks like muddled thinking to me. I prefer to treat Barack Obama as a man.

    If the GOP threw the Democrats out of Congress next year and Obama were ready to work with them, his presidency might actually become successful. But he is not a blank slate, not anymore. He is an adult – he is the President, for HeavenĀ“s sake – who has his personal baggage and ideological blinders and he is making his choices. One of those choices is to thoroughly alienate everyone who isnĀ“t on board with his agenda, to accuse everyone of bad faith and to lie with pathological ease to get his way. Another choice was to see America through the lens of his radical upbringing and never to let go. He is 48 years old. He cannot let go. After nine months, still nothing gets through to this guy.

    So what if in his mind heĀ“s elevating someone (in the abstract, it must be said, while in the actual putting down real people)? So what if in your mind he is the culmination of history? Too bad this culmination isnĀ“t ready to act like a president.

    The symbolism and aesthetics of it will not save us or him from the consequences of his actions, which are thoroughly unwise as well as un-conservative.

    Comment by El Gordo — October 20, 2009 @ 2:38 am | Reply

  21. Once I was reading something called “The Secret Parts of Fortune” when I realized the author was not really that smart.

    Comment by MarkO — October 20, 2009 @ 10:33 am | Reply

  22. Charlie, one more point.

    You write, if I may clumsily summarize, of the innate or latent conservatism of Obama within the black experience (which he in my opinion doesnĀ“t even share, but letĀ“s put that aside). I think you are mixing something up. A conservative lifestyle – work hard, save, marry, stay married etc – is fine. People benefit from living that way and conservatives like Sowell have lamented the decline of the family values among American blacks since the 1950s.

    But personal behaviour alone does not make you a conservative. What makes a conservative is his relationship to society and its history, traditions and values.

    In the beautiful words of Roger Scruton:

    “At the heart of every conservative endeavor is the effort to conserve a historically given community. In any conflict the conservative is the one who sides with “us” against “them”–not knowing, but trusting. He is the one who looks for the good in the institutions, customs and habits that he has inherited. He is the one who seeks to defend and perpetuate an instinctive sense of loyalty, and who is therefore suspicious of experiments and innovations that put loyalty at risk.

    So defined, conservatism is less a philosophy than a temperament; but it is, I believe, a temperament that emerges naturally from the experience of society, and which is indeed necessary if societies are to endure. The conservative strives to diminish social entropy. The second law of thermodynamics implies that, in the long run, all conservatism must fail. But the same is true of life itself, and conservatism might equally be defined as the social organism’s will to live.”

    Perhaps you see now why Obama is the anti-conservative, a man whose whole identity and self-perception is based on the fundamental faultiness of our society, and of turning society upside down. Or point me to one honest moment in which he demonstrated an identification with America as a whole because I sure missed it.

    “To be a revolutionary in a society like ours, is to be a totalitarian, or not to know what one is doing.”

    Comment by El Gordo — October 20, 2009 @ 12:57 pm | Reply

  23. That should have read “and the necessity of turning society upside down.”


    Comment by El Gordo — October 20, 2009 @ 12:59 pm | Reply

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