Saturday, January 16, 2010

S.E. Cupp is no Florence King, either...

I've said nice things about Conor Friedersdorf's work here before. But this piece on The Daily Caller's S.E. Cupp is too harsh. See also this at True/Slant, which makes the same argument in more detail.

Okay, so I am not a great fan of Cupp's piece either. The "real Americans" stuff is obnoxious and over the top. But posing as a misanthrope for entertainment value who hates liberal pieties can be quite entertaining. See, e.g., everything Florence King ever wrote. I love King half to death, to the point that I tend to give copies of Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady to every single one of my female friends at some point.* For a shorter taste of why I love King, go read this essay of hers, which remains one of the best five 800-or-so-word essays that I've ever found online. I can't help but wonder if Cupp's trying to channel Florence King. If she is, I support that; would that there were more conservative and libertarian writers trying to do so.

What really distinguishes King from Cupp is that King was, above all, an unabashedly elitist conservative misanthrope. Florence doesn't let you forget that she's read more than you have; the rich array of literary and cultural references found in the anti-Ann Coulter broadside I found above are typical of her essays and books. Cupp is an unabashedly populist conservative misanthrope, who's all too eager to defend the common people over effete Manhattan snobs. It's interesting -- and sad -- to think that the differences between the two represent a decline in the intellectual aspirations of the conservative movement. Of course, maybe neither represents anything larger than herself -- Pnin is doubtless yelling sentences that have the word "non-systematic" in them at this point in reading my post, and I am yelling back sentences that have the word "Zeitgeist" in them. ** But maybe they both do, and I deeply regret the increasingly populist tone that dominates even lighter conservative discourse.

*To any female friends of mine reading this, to whom I might give a copy of Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady in the future: I apologize if this post ruins the surprise. However, I only give Florence King books to women I consider both strong and interesting and whom I really like. I meet all too few women like this, so consider it a honor...

**If our debates could be summarized in two words, I'd pick those two. This is what happens when someone who studied art history in undergrad takes a fiance who studied political science.


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  2. "Cupp is an unabashedly populist conservative misanthrope, who's all too eager to defend the common people over effete Manhattan snobs."

    This is bizarre to me because Cupp is (1) a Manhattanite (2) an ivy league grad with an Art History degree (3) a ballerina (4) an atheist and (5) the of a multimillionaire CEO. Nothing about the way she lives says that she identifies as one of the "common people" she so passionately defends. She reminds me of trust-fund babies who romanticize the working class znd try to mimic them for the sake of authenticity. The way she says she likes NASCAR, hunting, and bourbon all make me roll my eyes. Yeah right. She grew up watching NASCAR while growing up in Harvard's backyard. Sure she did.

  3. correction: the daughter* of a multimillionaire CEO