Ed Driscoll

LEAVING THE LIBERAL COCOON: Paul

LEAVING THE LIBERAL COCOON: Paul Beston, a former NPR producer, describes how he accidentally joined the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy:

My main responsibility was to distill guests’ books into a few single-spaced pages and write interview questions for [longtime public-radio host and producer Larry Josephson] that he could accept or reject while adding his own. As part of my job, I read omnivorously in the conservative literature–books, periodicals and the Web sites that were coming online.

Shop at Amazon.comLarry had print subscriptions to just about everything, from Reason to Crisis. The piles of conservative magazines lay around my workspace like a stack of Hustler in Saudi Arabia, daring me to look inside. Opening the pages of National Review or Commentary for the first time gave a certain thrill of heresy.

It quickly became clear that my understanding of conservatism was a cartoon. The writers took perfectly reasonable positions and argued them with eloquence. Always, there was the sense of limits to what one could hope for–and the warning that taking action could make things worse instead of better. After my years in the fervent environs of the left, the sober skepticism of the conservatives was very appealing. I couldn’t help but think that many of my fellow liberals had, like me, assiduously avoided coming in contact with their arguments. That was easy to do in New York City.

Bernard Goldberg made exactly that last point in Arrogance–he suggested dispersing the news divisions of the big three networks to small town middle America (aka “flyover country”) as a way to allow them to at least come in contact with more of their viewers, rather than spending all of their time safely inside of what Mickey Kaus once dubbed the liberal cocoon.

And as another Goldberg–Jonah–once noted, isn’t it curious that far more people make the journey from the left to the right, than go the opposite direction? Indeed, the phrase “neoconservative” originally began as–and frequently remains–an epithet used by the left to describe apostates who’ve since changed sides. (Although post-9/11, its been used so frequently by those who have no clue what it means, that it’s been rendered almost nonsensical.)

(Via The Blog from the Core.)

UPDATE: Orrin Judd writes, “One is struck by how often recent converts to conservatism and those who’ve simply come out of the closet–like Dennis Miller–mention that Rudy Giuliani, and the success of his conservative crime-fighting programs, played the key role in their journey”.