Jonah Goldberg

Let's cut through the clutter: A lot of people on the East and West coasts are bigots and snobs about "flyover types." They equate funny accents with stupidity, and they automatically assume someone who went to Texas A&M must be dumber than someone who went to Yale. Overt displays of religion trigger their fight-or-flight instincts, causing them to lash out irrationally.

My favorite example? When John McCain picked Palin as his running mate, University of Chicago professor Wendy Doniger wrote that Palin's "greatest hypocrisy is in her pretense that she is a woman."

When I read such idiocy, it's impossible for me not to love Bush, Perry, Palin, et al. for their enemies.

But here's my problem: I find the prospect of another four or eight years of defending these cultural distinctions to be intensely wearying.

My weariness is hardly a major consideration for anybody, but I think it reflects a larger problem. Conservatism is starting to have an identity-politics problem all its own. I think conservatism needs to spend less time defending candidates for who they are, and more time supporting candidates for what they intend to do.

Bush's inability to articulate arguments had nothing to do with his Texan-ness or his Christianity, but a lot of folks on the right defended him as if that was the case. "He speaks American, don't you get it?"

To which I'd reply: "No, he speaks badly."

Perry's not a bad speaker. and I'm trying to keep an open mind. I suspect I agree with him more than I did with Bush, whose compassionate conservatism I loathed.

Nor do I mind folksiness per se. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour can talk seriously and colorfully at the same time. But this time around, folksiness isn't a substitute for seriousness, and I have very little patience for those who pretend otherwise.


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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