Saturday, January 30, 2010

Comfortable with Complexity

Mark Oppenheimer has penned an interesting piece for Mother Jones about NYT columnist Ross Douthat.

Some asinine editor or headline writer called this otherwise good read "Ross Douthat's Fantasy World."

Nut graph:

And so we know at least three things about Ross Douthat—the devoutly Catholic, anti-porn, pro-abstinence, pro-life prodigy of punditry. First, he's not always sure that he's right. Second, he has gay friends. Third, he cares what they think. Which is consistent with what I have learned in conversations with Douthat, his parents, and many of his friends and colleagues, and in reading nearly everything he has ever published. His comfort with complexity, and with those who disagree with him—along with his somewhat unconventional upbringing, his unorthodox ideas on abortion law, and his embrace of both popular culture and highbrow literature—make him a surprising conservative writer. More surprising than most of his Times readers would ever know, and compelling in ways his fellow conservatives may not like to admit.

The piece has some good background on Douthat. For example:

He first gained attention for Privilege, a bittersweet 2005 memoir of his years at Harvard, where the drinking, partying, and hooking up left him feeling alienated. Of one alcohol-fueled fling, he wrote: "Whatever residual enthusiasm I felt for the venture dissipated, with shocking speed, as she nibbled at my ear and whispered—'You know, I'm on the pill.'...On that night, in that dank basement bedroom, she spoke for all of us, the whole young American elite. Not I love you, not This is incredible, not Let's go all the way, but I'm on the pill."

Hat-tip: Sully, who added, "Ross' conservatism is in the Buckley lineage. He may be the last one left."

illustration above is by Steve Brodner.

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