Everything is Always About the Culture War
If I were introducing a recent immigrant to the United States to our way of living, the first lesson I’d teach him would be “everything is always about the culture war.” He would be skeptical at first, and try to point out objects or habits that seem at first to have nothing to do with gays, guns, or abortion. “Ice Cream,” he’d say, and I’d buy him a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Hubby Hubby. “Soccer,” he’d venture, and I’d introduce him first to the young liberals who are much keener on soccer than on sports with a less international reputation, and then to the man who wouldn’t have a career without them, the inestimable Marc Thiessen, who, incidentally, doesn’t seem to know anything about even such bona fide American sports as baseball—I was a little sports-hating kid in 1994 living very far from an MLB franchise, but even I remember the strike. Thiessan has been ably dismantled here on the League, but he seems symptomatic of a broader change. The culture war in the age of Obama is ever increasingly contentless. While pro-lifers are as committed as ever, while the NRA still dominates Congress, while anti-abstinence-only folks are still fighting and the same-sex marriage movement is stronger than it’s ever been, none of these actual policy issues are at the forefront of the culture war any longer. Now it’s sometimes about tax-raising (though taxes have been cut), sometimes appeasement (though the wars have been escalated), but mostly about how people talk, where they live, what they eat, and what sports they watch.