Mr. Crunchy Con Speaks|You Cheap Bastards

Mr. Crunchy Con Speaks

Not a flip-flopper: Thanks, I guess, for naming me "Best Angst-Ridden Republican" (Best of Dallas, September 27). Given the woebegone state of the GOP this year, I know I faced quite a bit of competition from my political tribe. But it should be pointed out that in your efforts to paint me as a flip-flopper experiencing sophomore-year epiphanies, y'all were inaccurate in most of your points about my record and my conservatism.

You say that my "evolution" has at times been "hard to watch," but the truth is the Dallas Observer hasn't been watching at all. I came out against the death penalty not just the other day, as you would have your readers believe, but in my New York Post column on May 15, 2001. I didn't just recently discover the virtues of environmental conservation and the vices of capitalism. I wrote a cover story for National Review in 2002 about conservatives who are pro-environment, and as suspicious of big business as they (we) are of big government. I turned that article into a book, Crunchy Cons, published last year. Maybe you haven't heard of it, but it was favorably reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and others, and the Washington Post did a Style section cover story on me and my attempt to challenge Republican Party orthodoxy by reviving an older strain of conservatism.

You are correct that I did an about-face on the Iraq War. I was wrong.

Isn't it the case that, the Iraq example excepted, I only seem to have evolved to you because you imposed your own cartoonish idea of conservatives onto me? Look, I know that to many liberals, all conservatives look and think alike, but it's simply not true. Conservatism in America is not solely defined by what the Republican Party says it is any more than liberalism is defined by the Democratic Party. I am a conservative by conviction and a Republican by default. The kind of conservatism I believe in comes out of a strand of conservative thought called "traditionalist" by political scientists. It is distinct in its particulars from libertarian-style conservatism and neoconservatism. Granted, the Observer is not the place to turn for a nuanced discussion of political taxonomy or American intellectual history, but it is unfortunate that you seem to think that I'm a liberal, or an apostate right-winger, because my conservatism doesn't march in lock-step with the standard GOP party line—and in fact finds some commonality with positions that find a friendlier audience on the left.

It's my hope that after the GOP gets poleaxed next fall, thoughtful conservatives will turn to the work of traditionalist conservatives like Russell Kirk in their efforts to revive conservatism. In the meantime, it would be helpful to the public conversation if the news media would stop its lazy reliance on outdated labels to describe a considerably more complex (and interesting) political landscape now taking shape.

Rod Dreher

Dallas

You Cheap Bastards

Ignorant and uncouth: I was very angry after reading the "Cheap Bastard" article written by Alice Laussade for the September 20 issue of the Dallas Observer. The article wrongfully and maliciously ridiculed the Vietnam Restaurant at 4302 Bryan St.

These are surely the days when one ignorant, biased, naïve or uncouth individual can assassinate, defame or discredit by thought, word or deed the character of a person, place or thing with impunity. Alice Laussade has done just that to the Vietnam Restaurant in her subjective, biased, insensitive, uninformed and uncouth article referenced above.

I am a Vietnam veteran who retired from the U.S. Army and settled in Dallas to teach for the DISD and later a private school. The first time I ate at the restaurant was in 1996. Since that time, I have been eating lunch at the restaurant three to five times a week for the past 11 years. So, let me tell you about my experiences with the Vietnam Restaurant.

A Vietnamese family that immigrated to America in 1990 established the restaurant in 1996. I have seen the family struggle to make a wonderful restaurant a reality. Recently, they totally renovated the inside of the restaurant and repainted the outside. The owner's and his family's claim to fame is an excellent, inexpensive Vietnamese lunch buffet consisting of well-prepared beef, pork, chicken and tofu dishes along with many varied vegetable dishes and soup. The dishes and soup are varied slightly from day to day, and an excellent shrimp dish is offered on Fridays. The restaurant also offers many other Vietnamese dishes that can be ordered from the menu. The items on the lunch buffet are prepared fresh daily and are kept hot and well-supplied.

Most of the items on the buffet are labeled. However, some of the unconventional desserts are not labeled. Bite-sized pieces of fried bananas offered for dessert are delicious. Other Vietnamese desserts are also offered, and any employee is happy to explain how the dessert is prepared.

Many new customers unfamiliar with Vietnamese food ask the employees what an unlabeled item might be. The regulars at the restaurant know what each item is and also tell the new customers. The employees are always helpful, courteous and attentive. Talking between the employees in Vietnamese brings a certain reality to the restaurant. Customer complaints are very rare but are resolved immediately.

I am concerned that the "Cheap Bastard" article will keep people who do not know about the restaurant from trying it themselves. For me it is by far the best small Asian lunch buffet in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Jon Searles

Dallas

 
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