KEY WEST, Fla. -- That crunching noise George W. Bush and the Republicans hear is not ice in the White House bird feeder, where those of us taking in the sun here at the southernmost tip of America imagine ice must be. It may be the faint sound of the conservative coalition cracking at the edges. A few tiny cracks don't constitute a trend, of course, and strange and unexpected noises in the night aren't necessarily trends.
Nevertheless, Rod Dreher may be an outrider of the new counterculture. He's a columnist for the Dallas Morning News with impeccable credentials in Hillary Clinton's celebrated "vast right-wing conspiracy" -- he worked in the nation's capital at The Washington Times and then at National Review -- and his new book, "Crunchy Cons," rebuking the perceived sins and shortcomings of what he regards as runaway mindless capitalism, got a glowing review in The Wall Street Journal. He's a devout Christian (a lapsed Protestant who became a Roman Catholic) and a father of two small children who should expect to be schooled at home.
But he doesn't like shopping malls ("the point of life is not to become a more satisfied shopper"), industrial farming, big cities, television, and what he calls "lifestyle libertarianism." He likes environmentalism (by any other name), organic farming and the New Urbanism, the anti-urban sprawl movement. He even has kind -- if carefully measured -- words for Hillary and Jimmy Carter. "If by saying 'it takes a village to raise a child' Mrs. Clinton meant 'it takes more government programs,' well, count me out. But if by that she meant that parents can't raise good children alone, that they need the support of a strong, healthy society, she's right." He thinks President Carter is entitled to a mocking laugh at critics who jeered a quarter of a century ago when he proposed oil conservation as a patriotic duty, and who now are saying much the same thing. The Republicans, he says, look like "a Party of Greed," and "the Democrats act like the Party of Lust."