Usually I try not to engage the get off my lawn! folks. Partly that is because history has taught me how boring, how sometimes troubling those conversations can be. Part of it, dude, is that I live in Hunterdon. I am surrounded. I swim in the blood-red soup of the county that delivered Chris Christie his highest-percentage victory (eat my dust, Ocean County). I have friends and neighbors who define, promote and fund the other side. I reserve my politics for direct organizing, and for the homeblog and other writing.
Some of the friendly faces around me would cheerfully step in the way of a woman walking into an abortion provider, or write a check to somebody advocating murdering one. Some of them would cheerfully send my adorable little cousin, the brand new National Guardsman, to a pointless war for oil in some roughneck part of the world that would get her killed.
I live in Hunterdon, which means I talk politics all the time with people I don’t agree much with (though, more than they think, sometimes). I’m endlessly interested in the opinions of people with dramatically different worldviews. But I don’t much care what snarly dogs have to scream about.
And that brings me to Paul Mulshine. Mulshine, in a column under his byline for Star-Ledger Sunday, called the love of my life, Joey Novick, a “clueless liberal”. I thought all week about letting that go. What Paul Mulshine thinks, or very often appears not to think, about anything doesn’t matter much to me. Mulshine seems pretty interested in Blue Jersey, which is fine with me. His opinions are predictably harsh – he likes to call us ignorant, amateurs and neophytes full of class envy, saddled with shocking ignorance. Boo boo boo. I couldn’t care less, except that when we’ve had to express substantial criticism of Mulshine’s colleague Tom Moran, like we did here for example it’s impossible not to remind Moran that we go a lot easier on him (and with more cogent arguments) than Mulshine does on us (so much Mulshinola, still the best thing I’ve read on the man).
But as to replying directly to Mulshine? Feh. I can’t see the point. Man’s stock in trade is to be grumpy, a crank. Get off my lawn!. That doesn’t interest me much.
But this week, he called Joey Novick – my family – a “clueless liberal”. And what was Joey’s crime in Paul Mulshine’s tilted world? Well, Joey sat down and conducted a nearly 40 minute videotaped interview with Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll for Blue Jersey, with our Deciminyan behind the camera. MPC’s worldview is very different from mine, probably from yours, from Deciminyan’s and from Joey’s. Believe me. But Joey is endlessly fascinated with conservatives and libertarians, how they became activated to the way they think, the spark to their ideas. And you know something? If you only talk to people who already agree with everything you think, who dress like you, vote like you, greet each other with the same secret handshake and talk in pre-approved codes, you’ll live a very comfortable life. But you won’t necessarily learn how to craft a great argument or persuade anybody of anything, ever. And Joey’s about what makes people tick.
Joey likes to find the bedrock ethics of some of the people on the right, and use their own assumptions of the world to show them the world a way they might not have thought of. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes the right-wingers are trying to work their own voodoo on him (he remains my true blue). But it’s interesting.
Joey’s known Michael Patrick Carroll for several years; they’re friendly. And I have to say, the assemblyman couldn’t have been more gracious and welcoming to his lefty interviewer and videographer (this whole deal was Deciminyan’s idea – I give him big credit). We appreciated his willingness (even though some of our own readers thought we’d gone around the bend, or were kidding that we let MPC into the clubhouse).
Believe it or not, Joey’s friendly with Mulshine too, and Mulshine’s insults this week just roll right off his back (not mine). Some other pretty well-known conservatives too, on both the state and national level, Joey knows. He’s an interesting guy. Liberal, but not the way Mulshine means it (pond scum). But Joey’s nobody’s “clueless” anything.
Have a nice day, Paul Mulshine. And get off your own lawn.