The Republican Party, the conservative movement -- these are our enemies, we kept muttering amid the sad CPAC gathering of GOP robots and clowns. This petty hierarchy of shills, time servers, and girlish men (and boys) is supposed to represent a movement of principle -- of people -- and embody real opposition to established power arrangements and to the Left? What a bunch of unadulterated hooey.Blah, blah, blah. Young Turks know everything, and nobody else knows anything. As much as I share the Young Turks' disgust with the creaky infrastructure of the GOP, I've got no taste for being lectured by a spoiled rich punk (Kenyon College tuition: $38K/yr) whose chief contributions to conservatism to date consist of editing a student newspaper.
The difference between Us and Them is not philosophical or intellectual. It is much more basic. Besides our heightened sense that the conservative movement is a top-to-bottom failure, we simply have too much backbone to function as obedient servants in their crummy, impotent army. . . .
Were there any justice in the world, Evan, you'd be bagging groceries at Safeway and living in your mother's basement. And given the ongoing economic gotterdammerung, justice might be a lot closer than you think. I was also impossibly arrogant when I was your age, kid -- I'm pretty damned arrogant still -- but there was no Internet whereby I could embarrass myself by parading my arrogance for all the world to see.
Now shut up and get me a cup of coffee, punk. Don't make me get rough with you.
UPDATE: Kleinheider links. This McLaren kid is not worse than a lot of other 20-somethings in the political world. He just happened to wander into my crosshairs, a target of opportunity. I've done this rant before in various forms, and I suppose at some point it needs to be distilled into a carefully reasoned article, but let me recap a few of my basic points.
One of the problems with this whole "conservative youth movement" business is that "youth" today are used to being kowtowed to and petted by their elders -- the Gold Star Syndrome. They get all puffed up and think they know everything because they're praised to high heaven for any little thing they do.
They're never rebuked, never assigned to do grunt-work and told that if they don't like it, "there's the door." They become ungrateful and disgruntled because they're not compelled to pay their dues. This has always been my beef with Ross Douthat, who graduated from Harvard and immediately landed a contract to write a book about . . . what it's like to attend Harvard.
Well, f--- you, Ross Douthat. Nobody ever offered me a contract to write a book about what it's like to attend Jacksonville (Ala.) State University, although that book would be a heckuva lot more entertaining than your ponderously earnest tome.
I've worked a lot with the Young America's Foundation, and at least Ron Robinson and his crew make kids work to deserve whatever recognition they get. (Not to give away any trade secrets, but let me advise kids: If you attend a YAF event, be assured that you will be observed and evaluated. They're looking for leadership qualities and organizational ability, and if you show up acting like a doofus, this will be noticed.)
YAF honors students who can do the basic work of organizing: Raising money, scheduling events, coordinating travel, etc. And if you meet one of their best trainees -- name out of a hat, Matt Sauvage of GWU -- you recognize what the program accomplishes. And they push their trainees toward work of real political value.
Developing young conservative journalists, on the other hand, has become problematic in the age of cable punditry and a blogospheric environment where every 24-year-old who can compose a paragraph thinks he's the second coming of William F. Buckley Jr.
American Spectator managing editor J.P. Freire, whom I mean to praise highly when I say he's one of the least obnoxious of the Young Turks, is fond of saying that what we need is fewer Bill Buckleys and more Bob Novaks. We need fewer kids who want to lecture us about what Russell Kirk really meant, and more kids who don't mind getting their hands dirty doing the basic business of reporting the news.
So when I just happened to come across the McLaren kid denouncing CPAC as a "gathering of GOP robots and clowns" -- grrrrrr! My God, I could have introduced the boy to the legendary M. Stanton Evans, who is certainly not anybody's robot or clown. Evans was sitting outside the lobby bar all but unrecognized by the hordes of callow punks strolling past.
Exactly what has Evan Ramsey McLaren accomplished that he should dismiss so arrogantly these eminences gris of conservatism? Must seniority and estimable service plead for recognition from the likes of McLaren? Where is there in this young man's attitude anything of the chivalry that Burke celebrated?
Well . . . I could write a book. But I'm getting pretty damned tired of the outrageous displays of arrogance by these young writers who, by all rights, ought to be compiling "community briefs" at some small-town newspaper rather than lecturing their elders about "true conservatism."