I am not a big believer in reading too much into ideology when it comes to character. I know plenty of decent, honest and friendly liberals and I know more than a few asses who count themselves as conservatives.
But, in thinking about this Bennett thing, reading Josh Marshall’s response (where he talks about Casinos as if they are the source of cooties) and countless emails from readers, I’ve got to say it’s interesting how much the reality differs from the stereotype when it comes to liberals and conservatives.
This has been a pet peeve of mine for quite a while, as liberals like Maureen Dowd have insisted that conservatives are the biggest geeks in the world while liberals are decidedly un-nerdy. I wrote about this in the Wall Street Journal in 1996.
Now, there are obviously many, many, many nerdy conservatives out there. Quite a few write for this site — and we’re delighted to have them. And when I really get a Star Trek vibe going, I’m hardly immune to the charge myself. But as a general rule, the liberal writers and editors I’ve met since I’ve been in Washington certainly have been more earnest, more uptight and more akin to the guys who were rejected from Animal House (I can’t remember their names, but one of them was a Sikh, I think) and the conservatives have been a lot cooler. In fact, I think this is a slice of a larger trend which NRO has been relatively successful exploiting. Conservatives have grown tired with being labeled poindexters by über poindexters (See my discussion of Michael Lind in the article linked above). This was an issue addressed by David Brook’s book “ Backward and Upward: The New Conservative Writing which tried to show that conservatives are not only right on the issues, but
are actually fully-formed human beings as well.
Of course, all of this depends on what you mean by cool or nerdy for that matter. But whatever your definition, the nerd-equals-conservative stereotype is played out.