Over the weekend, I unleashed a rant against Ross Douthat that was more than a bit intemperate, and some of Douthat’s peers fired back in equal measure. On reflection, I decided friendly counsel was more appropriate:
The same medium that allows me, a graduate of lowly Jacksonville (Ala.) State University, to hurl online blasts at alumni of Harvard and Yale also allows callow youth to offer the world opinions about political affairs ungrounded in any direct experience of politics, or any observational memory of politics prior to the Clinton administration.
Today’s 22-year-old was in second grade when Clinton became president. When I was in second grade, LBJ was president, and I think it’s worth sharing with the ambitious Young Turks of conservatism a story about old Lyndon.
After he became vice president in 1961, LBJ attended a meeting of John Kennedy’s advisers, the Ivy Leaguers famously dubbed “The Best and Brightest.” Johnson was so impressed that when he met later that day with House Speaker Sam Rayburn, he couldn’t help raving about the brilliant minds of JFK’s brain trust. The wily Rayburn famously replied, “Well, Lyndon, you may be right and they may be every bit as intelligent as you say. But I’d feel a whole lot better about them if just one of them had run for sheriff once.”
In the same way, I’d feel a whole lot better about the punditry of the Young Turks if any of them had ever covered a sheriff’s race as a reporter. One of the brightest of the Young Turks, J.P. Freire of the American Spectator, likes to say that the conservative movement today needs more Robert Novaks and fewer Bill Buckleys. Which is to say, everybody wants to be a pundit, and nobody wants to do any research or reporting.
You may wish to read the rest. (And, J.P., I was not merely sucking up.)