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December 09, 2012

Vince Vaughn Conservativism Watch

Last week I read a Jay Nordinger column which was mostly about the need to recapture the institutions of thought (especially education), but he also mentioned this:

A reader of ours is a teacher and a conservative, and he suspects that the teacher in the next room is a conservative too. But he doesn’t quite know how to find out without revealing his own conservatism — and that revelation could be bad, professionally.

He wrote me to ask, “Maybe I could tap on the wall? Is there some secret code for ‘I believe that Western civilization is, on the whole, a good thing’?”

I thought that might make an interesting topic for discussion. Some of you may be lucky enough to live in largely conservative areas or work in largely conservative fields.

Conservatives who live in liberal areas, or move in liberal circles, on the other hand, tend to either be pretty quiet about politics or, if trying to suss someone else out, employ shibboleths to see if the other party is a member of the tribe.

I don't have a go-to shibboleth for this purpose. I suppose that something noncomittal and sneaky, like "Are you a fan of David Mamet?," might work. Hey, you might just mean his movies and plays. Alternatively, you might mean his recent political conversion to conservatism. A member of the tribe might pick up on that last bit and say something like, "I've become a bigger fan lately."

Bringing this around to Vince Vaughn: I'm watching the commentary for Couples Retreat. I just bought it, because we were talking about it, and I saw it for sale used. Ten bucks.

I know this is silly, but it's Sunday, and we were just talking about this.

Early in the movie there's a scene where Vaughn's character is in bed reading Thomas Paine's Common Sense. Looks like a Penguin Classics edition. In the commentary, he says, "I'm reading the Thomas Paine paperback Common Sense book, which of course was the book that Thomas Paine wrote which helped inspire the first American Revolution."

First? The first American Revolution? Was there a second?

So three possibilities:

1. He misspoke and meant something like "Thomas Paine vigorously agitated for two revolutions. The American Revolution was the first, and the second was the French Revolution." Thomas Paine was over in Paris agitating for that one, too.

2. He means the Civil War was not just an insurrection but a revolution against federal power.

3. He's suggesting there's a second American Revolution to come.

I suppose he might also mean the Reagan Revolution, but I don't know about that one. For that matter, he might have meant FDR's undeclared revolution.

I don't know, just thought it was something. I don't think it's a pure mistake, like a completely dumb mistake, because I assume he chose that book for his character to read. I assume he's familiar enough with the topic to know there's not a generally-acknowledged Second American Revolution.

So: A shibboleth or simple error?


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posted by Ace at 02:25 PM

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