Monday, July 9

How conservative are we?

How conservative are we?

Why do I ask? First there was the beautiful litany of our freedoms. Then I read an article in the Washghington Post about Nicolas Sarkozy and how his jogging is infuriating his liberal critics.

I almost didn't believe it when I saw the headline. The French apparently take themselves and their wine and their cigarretes very seriously.

Sarkozy has fueled a French suspicion that running is for self-centered individualists like Americans, reports Charles Bremner, Paris correspondent for the Times of London.

"Patrick Mignon, a sports sociologist, noted that French intellectuals had always held sport in contempt, while totalitarian regimes cultivated physical fitness," Bremner writes.

"Jogging is of course about performance and individualism, values that are traditionally ascribed to the right," Odile Baudrier, editor of V02 magazine, a sports publication, told Libération.

The British press is having a wonderful time with all this.

"The Sarkozy jog, say his critics, is a sad imitation of the habits of American presidents, and a capitulation to 'le défi Américain' (a phrase that was the title of a book published here as 'The American Challenge') as bad as the influx of Hollywood movies," writes Boris Johnson, a British member of Parliament and confirmed jogger, in the Telegraph.

"I am not deterred . . . by the accusation that jogging is right-wing," he says. "Of course it is right-wing, in the sense that the facts of life are generally right-wing. The very act of forcing yourself to go for a run, every morning, is a highly conservative business. There is the mental effort needed to overcome your laziness....

Meanwhile, the readers of British press Web sites are piling on. "No decent conservative would dream of jogging. It's a vulgar, untraditional form of self-advertisement that might frighten the horses. What's wrong with croquet?" posted Ian Morrison on the Telegraph Web site. "Had it been a spot of extracurricular horizontal jogging instead, je pense que ze political classe wouldn't have batted an eye," posted Nixon McVicar.


Conservative, liberal? What was it Charlie Brown used to say? Aaaarrgggh.

But to be sure, that list of our freedoms is decidedly liberal in that's what the word means - to be free. And when conservatism is about conserving the ability to do the things that matter most, then things begin to come into balance.

2 Comments:

Blogger MS said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

July 11, 2007 11:23 AM  
Blogger MS said...

I was at the marathon last month in San Diego. The route ends on the Marine base there, and as part of the buildup to the starting gun a Marine official was speaking and talking about soldiers defending America, etc.

Someone impatient person nearby said, loud enough to be heard by those of us around him, "Less politics, more running!"

(deleted the original after noting about 4 typos. heh.)

July 11, 2007 11:25 AM  

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