Last year around this time, Mark and I got to go on the Weekly Standard cruise through the Caribbean. It was my first cruise and a pretty intense week. You're with a few hundred conservatives and libertarians on a boat, sharing dinners and beach excursions.
It's not uncommon to have a "mole" or two on these cruises -- journalists digging for dirt or trying to understand the curious "other" in their midst. It's just one of the expectations of the business.
Anywho, this year's journalist exposé of a conservative cruise comes from Joe Hagan of New York magazine. Now, it would have been nice if he would have come to understand the "other" in his midst, and he definitely doesn't, although he gets part of the way. But it's still an interesting read, both for what it gets and what it doesn't get.
This is how a New York magazine reporter describes a panel:
After dinner was a program called the “Light Side of the Right Side.” A frenetic, tightly wound man named James Lileks, a National Review columnist from Minnesota, warmed up the crowd with one-liners: “If we can put a man on the moon, we can put 50 million Democrats up there as well!”
Rob Long, a conservative Hollywood TV writer behind a TNT [sic] show called Sullivan & Son, said the party has to accept that it’s been living in a fantasy world. “It’s like The Matrix,” he said. “You can continue to live in the dream world, or you can take the pill and we can unplug you and you can see that things are actually kind of bad.”
Conservatives, they felt, needed their own cultural voice—a Letterman, a Leno, an SNL,a 30 Rock—to compete with the overwhelming liberal dominance of the culture. As the Republican image stood today, said Lileks, “we’re the stupid people, we’re the yokels, we’re the dumb, we’re the racists, we’re the hicks, we’re against everything that’s hip and cool.”
Jonah Goldberg attempted a note of optimism, garnering hearty applause when he said conservative ideas were “still salable because, A, they’re correct. Two plus two is four. You have to believe that we’re going to be proven right by reality.”
In response, the moderator recounted the litany of dreary statistics from Reed and Rasmussen earlier that day. “So therefore we should give up and burn our passports and stay on this boat forever?” said Goldberg with real exasperation.
The crowd erupted in cheers.
Ah yes, the "frenetic, tightly wound" James Lileks. We know him well.
Anyway, while Peter doesn't make an appearance in the article, you can not only read about John Yoo but see a picture of him looking absolutely smashing at the poker table (above -- also, the article has a great picture of Rob, too). And his mother, a geriatric psychiatrist(!), sounds awesome. For obvious and predictable reasons, the article ends with her analysis of the "blues cruise":
On the leeward side of the Nieuw Amsterdam, John Yoo stood next to his mother, Sook Hee Yoo, a small, elegant Korean woman in black-framed glasses. She described herself as nonpolitical, an objective observer. And she had a diagnosis.
“To protect the ego, you have a defense mechanism: denial and projection,” she told me as her son leaned in to hear over the party din. “You deny your problem, saying it’s your fault and not mine. Instead of projection, blaming other people, we have to think of a positive solution. But I didn’t hear that yet.”
“They are still grieving,” she concluded as her son winced and began to break in, fearing she’d gone too far. “I hope not for more than six months. The grieving process should only be six months. If it goes on for more than six months, it could go into a major depression.”
Guys! We have another 4.5 months of grieving the demise of our country! I can live with that! I can get cheery by May. I figured we were supposed to pick ourselves up by mid-January.