Jonah Goldberg

When liberals wear ties and jackets, it's not news. But for some reason, when conservatives put on baggy jeans, it's a huge story.

That seems to be the upshot of a recent cover story of The New York Times magazine titled "The Young Hipublicans," which explores the world of campus conservatives. The teaser for the article says it all: "No taxes, no gun control -but these days blue blazers and gay bashing are not required. College conservatives have learned that by acting like everybody else, they can sway their peers and become the most influential political act on campus."

The article, written by John Colapinto, is full of observations like this one: "Today, most campus conservatives who hope to be effective won't dress like George Bush or Dick Cheney. The idea is to dress like a young person."

In other words, campus conservatives are traveling in mufti -putting on the costumes of liberals and common folk -in order to be taken seriously by the left. As the author says, "The idea is to dress like a young person." The fact that these campus conservatives are, in fact, young people is inconsequential. We know that if these young conservatives could have their way, they'd be wearing topsiders and khakis, slapping around the nearest gay guy they could find.

According to Colapinto, the "idea" to wear ostensibly "hip" clothes comes as much -if not more so -from a web of off-campus rightwing organizations. In fact, these groups provide more than fashion tips. Outfits such as the Intercollegiate Studies Institute and the Young America's Foundation provide the kids with talking points, which include not only useful sound bites on guns and taxes but also advice about how to loosen up and use humor in their arguments.

Indeed, according to Colapinto, "most" of what campus conservatives have to say "is something that someone told them to say." Presumably, the bosses of these youth outreach offices for the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy are the ones who made the decision to lift the blue blazer dress code and to abolish the "requirement" to gay-bait.

The Times' article, complete with the usual unflattering photography - all of the conservative kids look like humorless pod people from "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" - is really just the latest chapter in a long story about how the liberal media establishment has a difficult time understanding that conservatives are normal people.

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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