In any case, Mark writes:
No. Mark hasn't [embraced Ron Paul]. But I'm sure it must be a consolation to tell yourself he has.
Short of a public declaration of fealty, it sure seems to this observer as though Mark has. Given his own argument that Victor and I shill for the GOP, I hope he isn't too terribly surprised when what's good for the goose is good for the gander. By the same standards that Mark uses to illustrate that Victor and I desire the abuse of prisoners and war crimes (to say nothing of the election of Rudy Giuliani!), I don't think that it is at all hard to document the same for him with regard to Ron Paul. The complete 180 on libertarianism where before it was a selfish ideology for people without children, knee-jerk defense of the man despite the more egregious things that he's said (including opposition to the war in Afghanistan), the anger at the electorate that he isn't gaining in the polls (except when he is - see the following), and then the embrace of conspiracism whenever any serious criticism of the man gains traction all seem to qualify in this regard.
The funny thing is, Rod Dreher has a lot more unabashed enthusiasm for both Ron Paul and Daniel Larison than my ocassional mention of them demonstrates. Similarly, his words about the Bushies and their conduct of the war have been none too kind for some months now. But since Rod is a friend of Victor's this does not come up here. Oh sure, diane and pauli like to obsess about Rod, but the managers of this site would prefer to keep the focus on Shea-hating. So they simply ignore it in favor of expanding my various chance comments into an opportunity for dimestore psychoanalysis. You never see loooooong ranting pieces about how Rod is cracking up and a menace to the Republic who can safely be ignored (except when you are obsessing over him).
A couple of points here. First of all, Rod is now Eastern Orthodox rather than Catholic, which to put it crudely means that while I continue to pray for his return to the Church, he can say whatever he likes without me worrying about a scandal to the faithful. He has also never tried to pass off his nuttier political or social views as being in synch with the Catholic Church (indeed, his conversion to Orthodoxy would seem to preclude such things) or questioned the fidelity to the Church of those with whom he disagrees. Rod's main shtick, near as I can determine, is crunchy conservatism, which while I disagree strenuously with it as an ideology am not too worried about because it has been repeatedly critiqued by every respectable non-paleocon conservative media outlet that has addressed it. I'm not too worried about the coming crunchy conservative revolution because it is Monty Python's dead parrot sketch as a political ideology. Rod has also been willing to engage those who disagree with him in substantive debates, such as those that occurred on NRO before he decided that he was so much smarter than Jonah Goldberg.
Were Mark's political or theological ideas subjected to this same degree of serious criticism, I probably wouldn't be blogging here. Instead, they have grown a lot shriller and intolerant over time and near as I can determine few within the professional apologetics community have been willing to point out that some of the stuff that he writes, particularly whenever he gets going about neocons or the war, is literally Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs and drawn from less than reputable sources. If Mark wants to embrace fringe political views, that's between himself and his critical mindset, but I have a big problem with them being touted from the bully pulpit of the more widely-read Catholic blogs. And this goes way beyond whatever he thinks about interrogation, despite his attempts to pigeonhole Victor and myself into that category because we don't accept his fundamentalist reading of Gaudium et Spes. I have compared this to the issue of Sungenis before he lost his following and I think that it's a perfectly valid one.
Me: I don't mind Rod's remarks on politics much, but I do think the hypocrisy of Victor and his various partners-in-dialogue here is pretty funny. The personal really is the political, ain't it? Why not just rename the place "We Hate Mark Shea and we Can't Stand Zippy Either" and be done with it?
As a practical matter, neither Victor nor myself write that much about Zippy. No doubt that's because (as in the case of Rod) we're secretly in league with him and don't want to expose the connection lest it harm the broader conspiracy. From my point of view, his level of personal arrogance and frequent declarations of his own correctness as a way of ending an argument tend to preclude him developing a broad following. To the extent that he is important, it is largely because Mark tends to outsource most of the actual arguing for some of his claims to him. That said, I don't hate Mark Shea because I don't really know the man. At the end of the day, he is ultimately a stranger who makes crazy comments online with a habit of hurling ad hominems at my character. I could care less for what he thinks about me, but as long as he continues to write crazy stuff I remain concerned for my fellow Catholics. Thankfully, his continued descent into the magical land of Ron Paul has made that less and less of an issue as he becomes more and more identified with the lunatic fringe.