DENNIS MILLER: CONSERVATIVE
Eric Pfeiffer explains this phenomenon in the latest Weekly Standard:
“I don’t think of myself as a classic conservative,” says Miller. “I think of myself as a pragmatist. And these days, pragmatism falls into the conservative camp. We have to depend on ourselves in this country right now because we can’t depend on anyone else. We are simultaneously the most loved, hated, feared, and respected nation on this planet. In short, we’re Frank Sinatra. And Sinatra didn’t become Sinatra playing down for punks outside the Fontainebleau [Hotel].”
September 11 marked the turning point of Miller’s voyage to the right, but as far back as 1996 he was referring to himself as a conservative libertarian. Increasingly, Miller couldn’t stomach the left’s many attempts to demonize politicians like Rudy Giuliani and, later, Attorney General John Ashcroft. “With Giuliani, I was preconditioned to think he was heavy-handed. When actually examining him for myself, I said, ‘Wow, New York seems to be running so well.’ The guy has a good sense of humor when he talks. I dug him. And then obviously everything was borne out after 9/11 what a great man he is. And with John Ashcroft, the main civil liberty I’m looking to protect is the ‘me not getting blown up’ one. I don’t know if it’s written down anywhere in Tom Paine’s crib sheets, but that’s my big one.”
And, although I had always thought of Miller as moderately leftist until recent events, I do remember a line from years ago on his HBO comedy specials to the effect that the death penalty wouldn’t be so damned cruel and unusual if we executed more people.
And I love this:
Although Miller served up the red meat to Bush supporters at the fundraiser, he was reportedly booed for joking about West Virginia senator Robert Byrd’s former association with the Ku Klux Klan. “I think he’s burning the cross at both ends,” Miller had riffed. The story gave rise to some public finger-wagging, so I asked him about it. “That pointed out how interesting the coverage is to me. At some point, someone went ‘ooh’ at the intensity of my remarks. You can call that a ‘boo’ if you want. Believe me, I was preaching to the choir there. I doubt they were Robert Byrd fans. You know, if there is one place in the world where there are more portraits and buildings named after ‘The Leader’ than in Iraq, it’s West Virginia.”
(Hat tip: Moe Freedman)