Harry Stein is the author of, “‘I Can’t Believe I’m Sitting Next To A Republican,’” recently released in paperback.
Stein, who is a contributing editor of City Journal, recently agreed to answer 10 questions from TheDC about his book and current events:
1. Why did you decide to write the book?
I guess maybe it was one dinner party too many where my wife and I found ourselves surrounded by the sorts of insufferably smug liberals who assume that everyone with a brain agrees with them and are wont to say things like: “Carter may not have been the greatest president, but he is definitely the greatest EX-president.” I mean, as I describe in the book, until recently we were living in a community, the New York suburb of Hastings-on-Hudson, where to be a conservative was akin to being (the term of general usage for George W. Bush) a Nazi. And knowing there were lots of people in the same situation in deep blue locales all over the country, I figured such a book might provide them some solace in their sense of isolation. Interestingly enough, when the book appeared in hardback, and a piece about it appeared in the local weekly, all kinds of secret conservatives in my town came out of the closet – if not publicly, at least to me. People stopped me on the streets urgently whispering that they were one, too; one woman, spotting me as she drove by, screeched to a halt so suddenly she actually caused a fender bender.
By the way, the book’s title is a verbatim quote – somebody said it to me at one of those dinner parties in the spring of 2008, when I dared to raise the issue of Obama’s lack of experience.
2. You have a chapter titled, “Dinner Party Mischief – or, how to lose friends and influence no one, but while having fun.” How do you do that?
It’s premised on the notion of liberal dishonesty – the fact that they profess to believe things they actually don’t because to do otherwise would mean bucking the party line. For example, liberals know they’re supposed to be for affirmative action – but a lot of them also know, deep in their hearts, that racial preferences are an abomination, violating the basic sense of equity and fair play we learned as kids. And they ESPECIALLY know that if their own kids are applying to elite colleges where they are apt to be aced out by minorities with lesser qualifications. So what the wily conservative can do is throw out the topic in a very neutral way – say, by claiming to understand the need for affirmative action, but mentioning (in that troubled way liberals appreciate) some kid who’s been thus royally screwed — then sitting back and watching his tablemates go at it.