Friday, January 20, 2006

Conservatives for Breathing

A sneerfest erupted in NRO's The Corner because their house Crunchy Con, Rod Dreher came out in favor of breathing. Perhaps I exaggerate, but the tussle erupted after some fairly innocuous comments:
Yesterday here at the Dallas Morning News, we met with a group of local folks that included Margaret Keliher, the Dallas County Judge . . .. Keliher is a Republican, and she's also taken the lead in fighting for cleaner air in north Texas. Dallas has filthy air, in part because of cement plants just south of the city, and we're under federal government sanction to clean it up. In north Texas, the environment is not really a liberal vs. conservative issue, but a civic issue
. . . If I were sitting at the RNC in Washington right now, thinking about this fall's election, I'd spend a half hour on the phone with Judge Keliher and talk about this stuff. It's foolish to let the Democrats have this issue all to themselves--and by the way, enlightened environmentalists are starting to realize how foolish they've been to put all their hopes on the Democratic Party, and are now reaching out to conservatives. All to the good, say I.

This led to a series of snarky comments by Ramesh Ponnuru (who eventually made a peace offering) and others; along with rejoinders from Dreher. Perhaps the most obtuse comment came from (who else?) John Podheretz. The Birthright Pundit sneered, "In fact, I believe the rise in diagnosed asthma cases is a nationwide phenomenon of the past three or four decades, and nobody knows the cause. Except, it appears, a few judges in Texas, who got it all figgered out. I wasn't aware that degrees in epidemiology, cardiology, and pulmonology accompanied election to judgeships around Dallas, but now that I know, I'll be sure to consult your new friends about these matters."

That this mild suggestion that Republicans work on being less beholden to the interests of polluters and more to the interests of breathers is so controversial shows how screwed up the right is these days. Dreher is one of the few people involved with NR who is actually worth reading. I have a feeling he the he will not last there much longer and in a few years the onetime serious publication will become the exclusive preserve of mediocrities such as Podheretz.

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