Matt Lewis

Greatest hits (2009 – 2011)

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor

If you’re not careful as a political writer, you can end up writing exclusively about the urgent — and ignoring the important. This is a pitfall I’ve tried hard to avoid.

Writing about the superficial is seductive and immediately rewarding. It makes you feel productive, even as it starves you intellectually. For example, in the grand scheme of things, is the fact that Michele Bachmann ate a corn dog at the Iowa state fair important? Of course not! But a picture of her doing so is much more likely to go “viral” than a column on, say, why ethanol subsidies are counterproductive.

Admit it. You know it’s true.

My vision for this space has always been to present a hybrid between original reporting, thoughtful analysis, and yes, provocative opinion.

Like an actor who balances crowd-pleasing “romcoms” with independent, “art house” films, I try to walk the delicate line between pandering to readers by giving them what they want — and selfish indulgence. This is a common lament.

But it also occurs to me that onlinewriters face yet another conundrum that print writers do not encounter: What we do is both intangible and entirely ephemeral. Nobody puts a blog post on a bookshelf.

Whether it takes five minutes to write a blog post or five days to write an online column, the final product will eventually be cycled off the front page of this website, where it will (most likely) die. This probably reduces ones incentive to produce quality content.

As such, I thought it might be worthwhile to catalogue some of my past writings.

This is not a collection of predictions I got “right” (such as my argument that McCain would likely win re-election because his primary challenger wasn’t a conservative “hero“) or stories I “broke,” but rather columns that transcended the immediacy of campaign politics to explore some larger issues.

Since you’ve (hopefully) been reading me here, I decided to include only my pre-Daily Caller writings in this list.

Here are a few of my “greatest hits”:

The case for conservatism (versus libertarianism). “The fact that we have a nation where contracts are honored — where civilized men don’t descend into the anarchy or the ‘law of the jungle,’ where payola and murder are acceptable norms — was not a foregone conclusion but rather the product of a society that was carefully cultivated for centuries.”

Turkey’s identity crisis: “On one hand, Turkey is a thriving secular democracy with its most important city, Istanbul, rivaling New York City in terms of culture and energy. On the other hand, Turkey still struggles with fundamental problems of identity that have been part of the psychic landscape for as long as modern Turkey has been a nation.”

A debate over “revolution”: “Whether it’s King Louis XVI, Czar Nicholas II, the shah of Iran, or Fulgencio Batista, it is easy to get swept up in the hatred of a tyrant, but more difficult to find a better replacement. It is not uncommon for revolutionaries, caught up in the passions of the moment, to later have buyer’s remorse.”

The heroic namesake of John Boehner’s church: “As a priest living in Poland during World War II, Kolbe helped hide thousands of Jews from the Nazis. In 1941, he was arrested by the Gestapo, and ultimately transferred to Auschwitz.”

5 things conservatives should be wary of in the tea party: “It has been my observation that many of today’s new activists are quick to conflate being “old” with being part the establishment. This is probably natural, but it is not always helpful.”