March 01, 2005

My Secret Vice

Doctor, you’re the first one I’ve ever told this. When I’m alone I sometimes—I like to—I like to read conservative blogs. Not the really way–out ones, of course—just softcore.

Perverse, I know. Why do I do it? Well, I guess I’ve always been a contrarian. I enjoy doing the opposite of what people want or expect me to do. And I like to hang around with people who are different from me. If I want to know the thoughts of someone like me, I’ll write them myself. (“When I have the urge to read a good book, I write one” – Disraeli.)

Also, it pains me more to read the fatuities of people I could be mistaken for than of those I couldn’t. So I like to hang out on the other side of the street once in a while. Doesn’t that make me heteroblogual?

If you want the full confession, here are the conservatives I’ve been indulging in lately:

Peggy Noonan. Until January 20 she was just a name to me, a notorious speechwriter for the other side. But on Inauguration Day she wrote a column crying out “Whoa!” to the more messianic aspects of Bush’s speech. A person in a highly visible position with an independent mind! A rare and valuable thing in America today. Since then I’ve agreed with her views on Hunter Thompson and some other topics. Her column appears online in the Wall Street Journal every Thursday.

Sisu. An art lover and cat lover whose blog shows both interests prominently. A visually attractive layout with lots of well-chosen and varied photographs, recently including a drawing of a duck, a 1960s movie poster, a graph of a social network, a pile of National Geographics, and a fresco of St. Jerome in his study. Lots of good links from this site, too. Recent posts draw justifiable attention to things going the way of the Bush administration, but she has a tendency, in my view, to view politics too much as an our-team-versus-their-team contest. Sisu, it’s not high school football, it’s the fate of our planet!

Hog on Ice. This southern lawyer and Columbia University graduate has perfected a genially disputatious good-ol’-boy persona. Posts about his BBQ smoker, his dry rub, and his fry batter are interspersed among perceptive comments on politics, race, etc. His opinions on Hunter Thompson’s suicide were the most forceful and right-on I’ve read. Reading him is like being invited for a ride by the owner of the biggest motorboat on the lake, who affably hands you beer after beer as he weaves one-handed among the smaller boats, rocking them with his wake. He’s highly intelligent, witty, and glib, and will doubtless never succumb to excessive self-questioning.

G as in Good H as in Happy. The proprietor of this site writes under the nom de blog of Dilys. She was the first blogger not personally known to me who took up my site as a favorite, and she has remained one of mine ever since for reasons that go well beyond mutual backscratching. Of all the blogs I regularly consult, hers is the one I count on for the highest percentage of intriguing links that I would not have found elsewhere. She’s an impressively well-read lawyer, life coach, and marketing maven, and recently she’s linked on Georg Cantor’s Law of the Conservation of Ignorance; how marketing messages show up in brain imaging; exorcism and the archangel Michael; ringtones; the reconvening of the Sanhedrin after 1,600 years; and an antifeminist essay by an obscure Swedish clergyman. Dilys, whose religious affiliation I’m not sure of (and I gather neither is she), champions what I affectionately think of as Anglican virtues: decency, civility, a love of British and Celtic landscapes and culture, a calmly cheerful belief in the improvement of humankind, and a quietly puckish sense of humor. Her interests are probably too esoteric to make her blog widely popular, but that makes it just right for me.

Althouse. Many readers consider her a conservative but she claims to be an independent, above labels. I doubted that during the election and the inaugural season, but her recent posts include praise of Hillary Clinton, so I’m starting to take her at her word. In her year of blogging she has mastered an appealing voice and has gained the marketing savvy to make her blog one of the most deservedly popular and respected in her niche, which combines the political, the legal, and the diaristic. Her continuing generosity toward me from when I first began thinking of blogging has earned my lasting gratitude. Perhaps the most unpredictable thing in our long and checkered association has been that we’ve ended up as firm webfriends. (Perhaps one day we’ll finally meet in real life.) Ann has one of the two keenest logical minds I’ve ever known personally, the other being our elder son who is now in his first year of law school. When other commentators try to take her on, I just laugh. You do not want to argue with this woman, you will lose. Take it from the horse’s mouth—I argued with her for seventeen years.

So Doctor, tell me the truth—am I sick?