In this discussion, hipness is in eyes of the beholder


A political discussion between Red State conservative Dave Simpson – a former reporter, editor, publisher and columnist – and Greg Bean, Blue Stater and executive editor of Greater Media Newspapers.

Dear Greg:

There’s a new book out that you really need to read, Old Pal. It’s called “Why You’re Wrong About the Right: Behind the Myth – The Surprising Truth About Conservatives,” written by S.E. Cupp and Brett Joshpe.

You and I both know why you should read this book, Greg. Do I need to tell our readers about the mean things you used to write about Republicans?

I think folks need to know that when we worked at the same newspaper, the boss sent you to the state party conventions, and you always said nice things about the Democrats in the opinion columns you wrote, and you never had one nice thing to say about the Republicans. Not one.

In fact, ”never had a nice thing to say” is putting it mildly. How about that time you wrote that Republicans had much better food at their state convention than the Democrats, but they were too greedy to share it with reporters? When I got through reading it, I sided with the Republicans, figuring that I wouldn’t share good food with that Greg Bean either.

And, we were friends! Our families vacationed together!

And that was mild compared to what you wrote about Republicans trying to dance. As I recall, you wrote that we Republicans are stiff as boards, and we’re way too concerned about our 401(k) accounts or the balance of trade to “Boogaloo Down Broadway,” or “get down” with you and your cool liberal friends. As I recall, you wrote that watching us dance was the funniest thing you’d ever seen.

I can’t dance to this day because of the hurtful things you said, Greg. Are you happy?

But now, this new book, written by a couple of hip young Republicans, says you’re dead wrong about Republicans, and that we are too cool. We’re just victims of your friends in the liberal media, who shamelessly perpetuate the myth that we’re stiff and uncool.

And I can prove it. You just watch when the conventions come on television this summer, Greg. They’ll show your young liberal friends gyrating around, acting cool, doing the Macarena like in 2000, or some new trendy dance. And then at the Republican convention, they’ll focus in on delegates who look like Wilfred Brimley and Aunt Bea in straw hats covered with Wendell Wilkie buttons, sitting next to their half-wit nephew who looks a lot like Alfred E. Neuman.

The reviews for this book say that, thanks to people like you, Republicans are seen as “humorless and devoid of compassion,” that all we care about is “war mongering, tax cutting and gun collecting,” and that we’re “hopelessly un-hip,” and even our “mating habits are dull.” But, this book sets the record straight, proving that we are hip, that we keep our war mongering and gun collecting in proper perspective, and that our mating habits are in fact anything but dull. As a shameless purveyor of misinformation about innocent, God-fearing Republicans- some of whom are even “punk Republicans,” I’m told – you need to read this book, mister.
Your certifiably hip friend,
Red State Dave

Dear Dave:

I think it’s hilarious that you Red State conservatives are so square you need to read a book by a guy nobody has ever heard of to tell you how hip you are.

I don’t think I’d buy that book and have it gather dust around the house, but I might buy it as an audiobook and download it to my iPod. See, there’s one difference between us, old friend. Your kids probably all have iPods, but I’d be surprised if you do, and even if you do, it’s likely full of Merle Haggard.

When I finished reading your comments, and finally stopped laughing, I had to admit that you are right. Back when I was a political reporter forced to cover lots and lots of sometimes mind-numbingly boring events, I did write those things about the differences between Democrats and Republicans. And I remember your horror when I said that based on my personal observations, Republicans don’t have a sense of humor, dress badly, can’t dance and don’t like to share their food.

I saw all that with my own eyes, Dave, and more. So I don’t think I’ll be recanting anything. And I figure you guys haven’t changed that much in the intervening years. If anything, I figure you’ve gotten worse.

Which makes me plenty worried about you, buddy. Since we’re telling tales out of school here, let me mention that I remember a Dave Simpson who was so square that when he went with me and my wife to buy some lingerie for his new spouse, he was too embarrassed to even come into the store with us. He stood out in the hall, pointing through the window as my wife held up items for his consideration. In the end, he went all-out by buying … not sexy lingerie, but a flannel bathrobe.

You can’t even try to deny it, partner, because it’s true. It was like a chapter from the book “Should This Marriage Survive?”

Don’t get me wrong. I like square, and we’ve been friends for a long time, in spite of your tendency to dress like Al Borland, with whom (our readers should know) you share a certain physical, as well as sartorial, resemblance. But I did get a kick out of imagining you driving home from the bookstore in your “flamboyant beige” 2000 minivan and kicking back in your plaid jammies and sheepskin slippers to sip hot cocoa and read this book about how cool and “with it” you mod conservatives are.

That’s pretty funny. To me.

I know you’re a little sensitive about this stuff (touchy sense of humor), so I won’t belabor the point. But here’s a thought to take away: You remember when you were a kid and became a Democrat as sort of a rebellion against the older generation? (I did that, too, but I stayed converted.) And you remember telling me your son, to your chagrin, says he’s a liberal? (My very liberal brother’s son is a right-wing, Rush Limbaugh ditto-head for the same reason.) Well, maybe those “punk Republicans” you’re so proud of are just temporarily rebelling against their liberal parents in the same fashion. I predict they’ll come to their senses, sooner or later. The party will be waiting.

And P.S.: Thinking about your mating habits has made my eyeballs bleed.
Your comrade in hip,
Blue State Greg