April 16, 2002


NO SHADES OF REASON: Ryan trumpets this column, which quotes him, from the Cornell Review. Joe Sabia's No Shades of Gray column did helpfully explain the IC Republicans/Bay Buchanan silliness (also summarized on the Campus Nonsense blog), and I agree with the basic point that the IC Republicans shouldn't have apologized for the poster. But in the latest column, as is often the case, Sabia comes off as a smug, misogynistic creep, and is wrong to boot. Kulturkapmf purism is no way to advance any item on the Republican agenda in a place like Ithaca, and Sabia has a recipe for alienation. Mirroring the incisive Onion satire "Gay-Pride Parade Sets Mainstream Acceptance of Gays Back 50 Years", Sabia's story could be "Cornell Conservative Confirms Stereotypes, Scuttles Hope of Republican Inroads in Leftist Enclave."

It's true that "moderation" is no way to steer one's politics. Gerald Ford and Bob Dole, among others, had nothing special to offer the electorate and got nothing back from it. But the truth is there are very few "moderates" outside of political circles. Normal humans are centrists, libertarians, populists or other species of independents, but a moderate-- one who determines his views by splitting the difference between the extremes-- is not a naturally occurring being, and can make an effective legislator but rarely an effective executive. A college Republican club isn't an executive administration, though, and if it means to have an agenda, it had better know how to pick its battles; that's not the same thing as watering down stances. A campaign against property taxes (which are oppressive in Ithaca and stealthily fleece rentors) could be the basis of a broad-appeal campaign that would attract people to fiscal conservatism; calling fellow students whores, though, is no way to advance an agenda. (More on the wrongheadedness of social engineering of any political flavor later.)

The Cornell Review, if I remember correctly, was founded in part by alum Ann Coulter, and it's a shame that her shock-value-over-persuasion formula has infected it, because a reasoned, persuasive voice serving as an alternative to the lefty-academic conventional wisdom (what The Ithacan editorial page was for a couple years) would do that town some good.

Posted by John Tabin at April 16, 2002 03:05 AM