By D.R. Tucker on 7/17/2012, 12:31pm PT  

Guest editorial by D.R. Tucker

As a disillusioned conservative, what I wouldn't give to have someone who could make logical, fact-based arguments from the right. How interesting would it be to have someone just as intellectually skilled as MSNBC's Chris Hayes, just as sharp as him, just as devoted to sound logic as him-but coming from the opposite perspective?

Where the hell are the public intellectuals on the right, anyway? It used to bug me that Fox "News" Channel would promote Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity as the main faces of their network. I never had the sense that O'Reilly was actually a conservative, merely someone who knew that repeating conservative memes over and over again would be lucrative. As for Hannity, he lost me back in 2001 when I tuned into his radio show and heard him declare that he would condemn his kid if he decided to get an earring. What is this, I thought to myself, 1978?

One can debate when the right stopped investing in its intellectual infrastructure, but one cannot debate the reality of this phenomenon. Oh, wait --- the right debates the reality of certain phenomena all the time. Look at global warming, for just a start...

The climate issue is just one reason why the intellectual imbalance on the right is so irritating. One of the talking points that deniers have often hit me with over the last year is the following: "We can't control the climate! God controls the climate!" (In fact, Bill O'Reilly used this talking point in a discussion with Rep. Charles Rangel about the issue; a clip of this exchange can be found in a 2011 Alliance for Climate Protection video.

A conservative public intellectual (which would be, by definition, someone who acknowledged, and accepted, the scientific verdict on the manmade causes of global warming) would say, in response, "That fundamentalist argument is, ironically enough, a blasphemous one, as it blames God for mankind's pollution. If a corporation dumped raw sewage into a reservoir, one would not blame God for the sickness caused by drinking from that reservoir. If a criminal shot someone to death, the victim's kin would not blame God for their relative's death. If one is hit by a car driven by someone who was drinking or texting while driving, one would not blame God for being hit. So why would you, as a Christian, blame God for the emissions of carbon caused by the burning of fossil fuels? God isn't the one extracting the oil, we are!"

In a debate over the merits of same-sex marriage, a conservative public intellectual who recognized the importance of equal treatment in a civil society would tell opponents of marriage equality, "If you want to stop same-sex marriage, it's really simple. All you have to do is call for a constitutional amendment that would render null and void the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Then, you can stop same-sex marriage, same-sex adoption, gays in the military, the whole thing. Just remove the Equal Protection Clause. And by the way, good luck with that."

When discussing the upcoming fortieth anniversary of Roe v. Wade, a conservative public intellectual worth his or her salt would point out the intellectual contradiction between banning abortion and cutting taxes, noting that by virtue of his own economic arguments, Grover Norquist must be staunchly pro-choice: "If you compel indigent women to have children they cannot afford, then at some point, you must raise taxes to pay for the basic needs of those children. Norquist opposes tax increases as a matter of principle, in the same of shrinking government. One cannot shrink government unless one somehow reduces the number of people that will need government assistance. What better way to do so than by stopping those people from being born in the first place? Therefore, a case can be made that Grover Norquist is a quiet but firm supporter of a woman's right to choose."

If we had real conservative intellectuals in this country-not the cognitive cruiserweights that dominate "conservative" media, but real thinkers-then perhaps this nation wouldn't be dying from the disease of terminal partisanship. As Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein have noted, the main drivers of partisanship in this country are on the right-and the force that gives this partisanship its power can be found in the dumbed-down "conservative" media. Where can we find a conservative Chris Hayes, someone who can make intellectually complex arguments from the right?

You can find one tonight, right after you go to bed.

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D.R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based freelance writer. He has been a contributor to the Huffington Post, the Boston Herald, Human Events Online,, the Ripon Forum,,, and In addition, he also hosted a Blog Talk Radio program, The Notes, from August 2009 to June, 2010. You can follow him on Twitter here: @DRTucker.