There’s a question that’s nagged at me for some time, and now’s as good a time as any to raise it. Maybe Hector, if he’s around and reading the blog this week, can answer it.
Our former Author and current commenters, Hector, often talks with disdain about the chattering classes. One place and three names always come up in this context. The place is Santa Monica, and the names are Hugo Schwyzer, Amanda Marcotte, and Matt Yglesias.
I won’t ask why Santa Monica, when none of the three Chief Chatterers lives there (as far as I know, even Hugo has never actually lived in Santa Monica). I won’t ask because “Why Santa Monica?” seems to have an easy answer. Santa Monica is an upper middle class city, according to Wikipedia “consistently among the most educated cities in the United States, with 23.8 percent of all residents holding graduate degrees,” and possessed of a median family income of $109,410. It’s also both a politically and a socially liberal city. For good measure, it’s not far from Hollywood. What better place for the chattering classes to live?
Likewise, I won’t ask why Hugo Schwyzer and Amanda Marcotte. Hugo and Amanda are both well known in the feminist blogosphere, are both strongly pro-choice, and are both part of the sex-positive, hookup friendly, we may critique the messages in porn but we won’t object to porn per se part of the feminist blogosphere (as opposed to the cultural feminist part of the feminist blogosphere that tends to be more anti-sex-work and to see more difference between how men and women approach sex). I don’t suppose Hector would agree with the cultural feminists (who these days are in the minority), but he’d agree with sex-positive feminism less. Besides, Amanda has blogged about that abortion that she totally would have gotten, if she’d actually been pregnant, and Hugo, inveterate confessional blogger that he is, has blogged about any number of past deeds. I won’t mention most of them, in order to avoid attracting the roving Internet debate about Hugo’s character, but I’ll mention two which I know troubled Hector, the abortion that Hugo’s high school girl friend got (which Hugo does not regret), and the child who may or may not be Hugo’s, but the girl friend who had him picked the other guy as the better father. Suffice to say that neither Amanda nor Hugo is in line with Hector’s views on sexual morality.
The puzzle, for me, is why Matt Yglesias? I know Yglesias as the guy who as a college aged blogger supported the Iraq War, and who, burned on that war and realizing his mistake, wrote a book urging his fellow Democrats to reject the aggressive nationalism of the right and return to a tradition of liberal internationalism. I know him as a blogger about economic issues, one who favors more progressive taxes than most Republicans and less economic regulation than many Democrats, one who takes the stimulus side of the current stimulus vs. austerity debate, is critical of Angela Merkel’s choices within the EU, and who has a particular interest in the ways in which zoning policies ensure that The Rent Is Too Damn High.
While these economic views place Yglesias to the right of Hector, they seem unlikely, to me, to be the reason that he is placed with Hugo and Amanda at the head of the chattering classes. He would have to have earned that place with his social views, which he doesn’t actually seem to blog about all that much, relative to how much he blogs about other issues. I’m pretty sure that he does, in fact, disagree with Hector on such issues, that he’s in favor of keeping abortion legal, that he doesn’t have any particular problem with casual sex. But I can’t think of what he’s actually said about social issues that would stand out, that would make him, and not one of the many other liberal bloggers who probably lean left on social issues but who don’t write much about them, the poster child for the chattering classes. Certainly it won’t be confessions about his personal life that earned him this spot, since Matt Yglesias, unlike Hugo Schwyzer, has blogged little about his personal life. We know that he’s the son of two novelists, that he went to a nice prep school and then to Harvard, that he majored in philosophy, that he’s Jewish, and that he recently got married (only once); there’s nothing scandalous there.
I probably missed it, whatever it was; I read Matt Yglesias off and on, so he could well have said any number of things that would appall Hector during a time when I wasn’t reading him. So, would Hector, or anyone else, care to enlighten me? Just what awful things has Matt Yglesias been chattering about?