Conor Friedersdorf brings an independent-minded perspective to dialogues on politics and culture.
Conor talks to John Tabin about the 2012 presidential race. Was it fair that the British press tore into Romney? Conor wants to know how Romney’s foreign policy would differ from Obama’s. John explains what he didn’t like about the intervention in Libya. Why do so many strict constructionists support unconstitutional wars? Shifting to domestic issues, Conor and John applaud liberal journalists for their principled stance on Chick-fil-A. They close by discussing the prospects of third parties.
On Friedersdorf, the conversation kicks off with Mark discussing his column on purity balls, where fathers pledge to protect the chastity of their daughters. They next talk about Mark’s profile of David Frum—are Frum’s politics a psychological reaction to his famous mother? Conor disagrees with Frum’s dismissal of libertarianism, but thinks he deserves credit for publicly changing his mind at some cost to his financial well-being. The two go on to consider what the goal of parenting is, and the thing that parents in Mark’s neighborhood fear most. They discuss the good and the bad (but mainly the good) of the sexual revolution, and Conor argues that society should stigmatize absent fathers.
Conor, freshly back from the Aspen Ideas Festival, talks to Phoebe about the best way to attend a huge conference. They discuss whether high school students would benefit from publishing their papers online rather than just handing them in to a teacher. They next discuss what the goal of parenting is, referring to both Anne-Marie Slaughter and The Cosby Show, and Conor imagines an alternate life as an Ivy League preppy. Phoebe remembers Andy Griffith by talking about the town of Mayberry and the way race relations weren’t portrayed there. Conor theorizes that as online education becomes more popular some providers will start competing with one another by offering offline amenities. And Phoebe praises an author whose novel was panned in the New York Times by a critic who didn’t understand it.