Do you agree that were more exposed to left ideas than the average guy who ends up running for President? Hard to picture most of them reading Frantz Fanon or saying, ‘Stokely Carmichael is in town, I’m going to go hear him.’
I’m not sure that what I was exposed to was all that different from what Bill Clinton was exposed to. He’s squarely a baby boomer. I’m sure that what I was exposed to was different from what John McCain was exposed to, because there’s a much bigger gap of years there. But you know, the truth is that my education was a pretty standard, liberal arts education. So I was exposed to thinkers on the left. At the same time, I was reading Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayak, and I was growing up when Ronald Reagan was ascendant. So the political culture of my formative years was much more conservative.
It partly explains why, if you look at not just my politics, but also I think who I am as a person—in some ways, I’m pretty culturally conservative. I was always suspicious of dogma, and the excesses of the left and the right. One of my greatest criticisms of the Republican Party over the last 20 years is that it’s not particularly conservative. I can read conservatives from an earlier era—a George Will or a Peggy Noonan—and recognize wisdom, because it has much more to do with respect for tradition and the past and I think skepticism about being able to just take apart a society and put it back together. Because I do think that communities and nations and families aren’t subject to that kind of mechanical approach to change. But when I look at Tom DeLay or some of the commentators on Fox these days, there’s nothing particularly conservative about them.
It would be a good day for America if some Will and Noonan rubbed off on Obama. I have skepticism. Also, that their era is over! I thought tonight was Thursday and was about to go read Peggy’s Friday column.