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Ed Driscoll

Diagnosis Confirmed

January 3rd, 2013 - 12:27 pm

“The culture war is over, and conservatives lost,” Matt Lewis of the Daily Caller writes in The Week:

We should have seen it coming. Back in 1999 — on the cusp of George W. Bush’s presidency, and as Republicans controlled both chambers of Congress — conservative leader Paul Weyrich issued a controversial open letter declaring that conservatives “probably have lost the culture war.”

As Weyrich wrote:

In looking at the long history of conservative politics, from the defeat of Robert Taft in 1952, to the nomination of Barry Goldwater, to the takeover of the Republican Party in 1994, I think it is fair to say that conservatives have learned to succeed in politics. That is, we got our people elected.

But that did not result in the adoption of our agenda. The reason, I think, is that politics itself has failed. And politics has failed because of the collapse of the culture. The culture we are living in becomes an ever-wider sewer. In truth, I think we are caught up in a cultural collapse of historic proportions, a collapse so great that it simply overwhelms politics.

In recent months, it has been especially depressing to be a conservative. In the past, one could more easily endure the ranting of liberal commentators by taking solace that — outside of New York City and Washington, D.C. — most of the country was center-right. Thus, whenever an elite liberal commentator said something fringy, one could always console himself by saying (or at least thinking): “I hope you push that idea, because you’ll keep losing elections in real America.”

Today, conservatives have made a shocking discovery: They are the ones in danger of appearing out of touch with middle America.

Weyrich, it turns out, might have been a Cassandra. At the time, of course, his letter was criticized by many of his conservative friends, who had, after all, toiled in the trenches for years to elect Ronald Reagan. They were still optimistic that we were on the verge of some sort of permanent governing majority that would allow a new leader to finish what Reagan started. But today, it looks as though Weyrich was quite prescient.

To be sure, his idea wasn’t entirely original. Years earlier, the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan observed, “The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society.” Years later, Andrew Breitbart would popularize this notion, and introduce it to a new generation of conservatives. But Weyrich was making an observation at a time when it would have been easy to dismiss such reflection as premature — or even pessimistic. (Indeed, many of his contemporaries did exactly that.)

Howard Kurtz, attempting to run interference for one of his employers, inadvertently provides a confirmation (at least of sorts) of Lewis’ diagnosis. Or as John Nolte writes at Big Journalism:

During CNN’s live New Years Eve coverage, left-wing comedian Kathy Griffin dropped to her knees to kiss the crotch of co-host Anderson Cooper. Howard Kurtz asks “What was so awful about it?

Let’s hope that Kurtz is merely selling out here. After all, he hosts “Reliable Sources” every week on CNN.

The thought of Kurtz flaking for his employer is much more comforting than attempting to grasp the fact that the most famous media reporter in the country can’t comprehend what’s wrong with a cable news network’s primetime host getting his crotch kissed on live television.

In many respects, this is a matter of a coarsening of tone, not politics — in terms of Griffin’s gesture, Cooper’s on-air acquiescence, and Kurtz’s ho-hum reaction. But ever since the late 1960s, coarsening of the culture seems to go hand-in-hand with politics moving further to the left, as Moynihan and (especially) Breitbart knew. As I said on Tuesday in my initial post on the topic, Walter Cronkite was as reactionary a liberal as Anderson Cooper — in some respects, perhaps even more so — but it’s difficult to imagine him being videotaped every year involved in an on-air train wreck such as this. And Cooper must be OK with it, since, as Noel Sheppard wrote at Newsbusters, Cooper and his producers at CNN keep bring Griffin back every year, perhaps so that somebody is talking about the network at the start of the year:

Consider that during the 2009 show, Griffin dropped an F-bomb. The year before she directed a vulgar oral sex reference to a heckler. Last year she stripped down to her underwear.

Yet CNN keeps inviting her back.

Boggles the mind, doesn’t it?

As a Mr. A. Goldfinger once said, “Mr Bond, they have a saying in Chicago: ‘Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action.’” And for CNN, their worst enemy is themselves.

(On the other hand, it could have been worse. Much worse. How much worse? Trust me — you don’t want to know.)

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