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February 23, 2006

Bill Kauffman

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Thanks to Dave Lull for tipping me off to Bill Kauffman, a writer whose work I've been having a very good time catching up with. Kauffman is one of those impossible-to-categorize one-of-a-kinds (like Edward Abbey and Fred Reed) whose brains, observations, and spirits I often find muy simpatico -- people for whom truth to personal experience and truth to personal vision tramples party cheerleading. Kauffman himself is part conservative and part radical, part liberal and part curmudgeon. (The fun thing is, you never know which part it's going to be.) He writes for both The American Conservative and for Counterpunch. Wikipedia gives it the old college try, describing Kauffman as "the progressive conscience of the broader paleocon movement." Kauffman himself has a book coming out soon that's an appreciation of America's "reactionary radicals."

In any case, it's a pleasure to read someone who's so very talented and so very much his own man. Here Kauffman reports sympathetically about a gathering of Vermonters who want to secede from the USA. Here he writes an appreciation -- for Republicans! -- of George McGovern. Here he pens a smokin' yet conservative denunciation of George W. Bush. I haven't read Kauffman's best-known book yet. It's an account of the decline of the small town where Kauffman grew up -- a small town in Western New York State not far from the small town where I grew up. I wonder if there's something in the water up there ...



posted by Michael at February 23, 2006


By coincidence, I picked up the March '06 issue of THE AMERICAN ENTERPRISE magazine tonight, and Bill Kauffman is majorly represented in its pages: first as an interviewer of the historian David Hackett Fisher, and second as the author of an article praising the movie HOOSIERS for its un-Hollywood-like and unapologetically positive depiction of small-town values, among other things.

Posted by: Dwight Decker on February 24, 2006 01:52 AM

I met Kauffman after he gave a speech in Chicago a few years ago. He was explaining to a young lady that, despite devoting a chapter to (female) antisuffragists in With Good Intentions, he actually did believe in women's suffrage. Then I added, "But he was very respectful to the antis." And he burst out, "The problem in this country is that if you lose, you go down the Memory Hole!"

That statement right there sums up his entire career. He's forever pulling people out of the Memory Hole.

If current trends continue, we may have to pull the whole country out of the Hole.

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