I'm pleased and proud to have Harry Shearer, my old friend, here on Ricochet for a bit. His new movie, The Big Uneasy, is really exceptional. Don't miss it.
It's got lots in it to infuriate everyone, but if you're a conservative, you'll especially be challenged to re-think the purpose and effectiveness of the Army Corps of Engineers, which despite its gloried history really seems like a Congressional boondoggle -- the private construction company dedicated to getting incumbent members of congress re-elected by building big things in their districts.
Harry's a dangerous lefty, of course. At least that's what I call him whenever I can. I think I've suggested, over dinner and excellent wine, that he be arrested and thrown into federal prison. For his part, I think he's parried that I'm a hypocritical conservative and has mocked the way my voice rises in pitch when I'm especially cornered in a debate. I'm often cornered that way by Harry.
And then we finish our wine and laugh and cackle evilly about the various people in the entertainment industry whom we despise, and we talk about our dogs or whatever else seems to be going on in our lives.
I'm tempted to say that friendships like this don't exist, especially in Hollywood, because it's monolithically left-wing, and partisan, and Harry isn't either one of those things. (He'll reject the label of left-wing, and with justification, although I do enjoy calling him a dangerous anti-American pinko. And he is a dangerous anti-American pinko...) But I can't really blame Hollywood.
I blame a sense of humor deficit. Our side has it, too. The essence of friendship is shared laughter, and it's impossible to laugh with someone if you're screaming at them, or if you're convinced that they're immoral hate-mongers or...well, you know.
It's a friendship killer, I think, this idea that it's all a fight, a war, a twilight struggle for the soul of America -- we get so caught up in it we forget that it's possible to have rich and close friendships with people whose politics are different, without reading them out of polite society. Where I live, this comes more often from the left -- I cannot count the times I've been told, to my face, something like, "You're a conservative? But, I mean, I like you. You don't seem evil" -- but I'm sure it happens to both sides, depending, I guess, on where you live.
Harry and I agree on a lot of things -- we agree, for instance, that his new movie is excellent; we agree that the press is a ludicrous bunch of pompous blowhards -- and we disagree on a lot of things, too. We vote differently. I vote for the Real American; he votes for whoever seems the most like Trotsky. But we're friends first. We laugh at (mostly) the same things. Often, that's each other.