Grow Up, S. E. Cupp

What can be said about S.E. Cupp? Plenty, as Jeffrey Lord does at the American Spectator. S.E. Cupp has gone on record again in attacking Rush Limbaugh in the New York Times Magazine (where better?). Lord is at his methodical best dissecting Cupp's -- shall we say, vacuity -- and the vacuity of other self-styled young conservatives quoted in the Times article.

As Lord writes:

Are they [Cupp and colleagues] really conservatives -- or just the latest, newest incarnation of that age old 20th century invention: the GOP moderate? The newest sparkling edition of a wannabe Ruling Class? Making the rounds of the bar scene in Manhattan and New York and longing to be hip?

Hip would certainly seem to make Cupp's checklist. But I would add to Lord's remarks that Cupp's career largely hinges on celebrity -- celebrity, a totem of the modern age. People who make their livings off celebrity have a need to stay current, stay in the public eye. Picking a fight with Limbaugh, the dean of conservative talkers, particularly in a New York Times interview, is a nice little publicity gambit for a reputed young conservative. The liberal media eats up apostasy on the right.

And Cupp's youth is also addressed by Lord. He remarks:

[Cupp and her colleagues exhibit a] lack of historical awareness of conservatism. Are we seeing young conservatives who seem not to have grasped conservatism whole? Who do not understand the seamless thread that binds conservative values as a way of life, from the Constitution to gay marriage and abortion to free market economics and dealing with Al Qaeda?

Cupp is soon-to-be thirty four years old. What life experience does this young lady have that greatly informs her analyses and opinions? No doubt Cupp is a bright and talented young woman, but lacks a depth of knowledge (as Lord points out) and real world experience. Is Cupp really qualified to weigh in on a whole host of critical issues; to speak as if she has an expertise (or at least a greater exposure) to fiscal issues, defense matters, social issues, and the like?

Making the Manhattan social scene doesn't cut it, not in terms of life shaping experiences, unless one is writing for People magazine or a newspaper's "Life" section.

Cupp's elevation to talking head and opinion shaper couldn't have possibly occurred but for contemporary America's obsession with youth -- youth and looks. Long ago and far away (or it seems long ago), reporters and commentators came up the hard way, toiling for years on police beats and covering city halls, and then graduating to tougher assignments, like wars. Then -- and only then -- did some of those pros (gray beards by then) gain a degree of notoriety. Ernie Pyle, R.I.P.

Cupp essentially went from Cornell University (2000) and New York University to a job at the New York Times in 2002.

Granted, beyond the nation's youth culture fixation, the alternative media has changed things, broadened the playing field, so to speak. Journalism and commentary have been democratized thanks to technology. Admission is broadly opened and welcomed. This is in many, many ways indispensible, given the near monopoly that the left has on the mainstream media. But consumers of news and commentary -- whatever the source -- are always advised to be discriminating.

Cupp most certainly isn't wrong in all her opinions and analyses; she is, as mentioned, an intelligent and capable young lady. As the old saying goes, "I takes my wisdom where I can gets it." But Cupp's youth, inexperience, and her seeming penchant for the public eye makes her worthy of closer scrutiny. One senses that there's a smidgen of P.T. Barnum in Cupp. Barnum is reputed to have said that he didn't much care what was said about him as long as his name was spelled right. One suspects that Cupp cares more what's said about her, at least among Manhattan's liberal set.

Rush Limbaugh, at sixty-two years old, certainly has lived life and has a long an honorable track record fighting for the conservative cause (twenty-five years on the national stage, years in local radio, and a stint in marketing for the Kansas City Royals). Limbaugh's life has been devoted to his profession and to developing well-considered and thoughtful opinions on politics and national and social issues. Limbaugh's analyses are often original and insightful. Limbaugh hasn't gone for being "edgy" or "hip," only right, however unfashionable that may be at times.

S.E. Cupp could learn something from the man she's so ready to criticize.