My first memory of Caleb Howe is from CPAC 2010, consisting of a flurried rush past me in a black suit as my friend, Cheryl Prater, made a desperate attempt to waylay him. But he was a man on a mission and couldn’t halt, even for a moment. I was soon to discover this wasn’t atypical.
That’s my first recollection of seeing Caleb Howe. I can’t claim to remember when I first read his tweets, but they stood out from the pack. As I perused them, adjectives sprang readily to the forefront of my consciousness. Bombastic. Opinionated. Plainspoken. Edgy. Satirical. HILARIOUS. No, that’s not my persona…most of the time, anyway. But we need people like Caleb Howe in the conservative movement. It has long mystified me that we can simultaneously be stereotyped as stuffed-shirt, uptight, old-fashioned types who also happen to want to yank pork & beans from the grubby palms of the homeless and are intolerant of every ethnicity, save Caucasians. We’re both boring and mean, in other words.
In spite of what some of the Media Matters haters would assert, Caleb is neither. I met Caleb at Right Online last summer. Upwards of 1,000 people attended the conference, so I didn’t expect to get a few minutes of conversation with Caleb, but that’s exactly what I obtained. Conversational moments often don’t come easy at gatherings of this size, so I appreciated the opportunity. We talked about the conservative movement and why we maintain the roles we do in activism.
Caleb is a man of conviction. He viscerally defends freedom’s cause…and contends that the Republic as the Founders bequeathed it to us is worth the fighting for. He does so in an often irreverent style, but it is no less sincere for all of that. He knows how to generate publicity, while simultaneously shining the spotlight on other worthy personalities and causes (as his latest post for Red State amply proves).
I’m glad to call Caleb a friend, but also fully aware that he needs no recommendation from me. Just about everyone who reads this will recall vividly when they discovered Caleb’s Twitter timeline. If, against the odds, you haven’t yet, get with the program today!
10 Questions for Caleb Howe
1. You’re a preacher’s kid. What blessings and baggage accompany that kind of upbringing and how did your formative years influence who you are today?
People tend to believe that if someone is the “son of a preacher man,” he is probably going to spend his teens/twenties in some kind of raging backlash and that they are the only one who could ever reach them. In reality, I don’t think there is any particular baggage or blessings over any other type of upbringing. I had great parents who loved us kids and raised us right and made us wrangle snakes. What could be more American than that?
2. Would you characterize your worldview as Judeo-Christian today and how does that impact your involvement in conservative activism?
I would characterize my worldview today as “Yeeeeargh!!!!!” Also meh. I try not to consider myself as having a lens through which I view events. Like any person, I see things happen, and then I think things about those things. That my beliefs are Christian doesn’t mean my thoughts can’t be reasoned. Or unreasoned. We’re all reactionary to some extent, deliberative to some extent … jerks, to some extent. Especially the last one. You jerks.
3. There is a plethora (one of my favorite words) of valid reasons you have been included on a number of humor panels at activist events around the country. You’re a funny guy. Are you purposeful about incorporating humor in your Twitter and podcast commentary or does it just flow naturally from who you are?
Wow, the pressure to have a funny response to this question is pretty intense. Therefore, please watch this video of a hamster on a piano.
4. You’re married and a father to two daughters. We’re family people here! So tell us everything you can about your family and their impact on your life. My wife and kids are way better people than I am. I’m very lucky to have them. It just goes to show that, with hard work and rigorous training in hypnosis, any guy can meet his dream girl. My daughters are geniuses, and my wife is hot, to be perfectly frank. Take that, former high school classmates (especially you, Perfectly Frank)!
5. Everyone has to answer the favorites question; no exceptions here! So give us your favorites in the following categories (Books, music, movies/TV shows, foods, travel destinations…) and throw in a couple of random entries, as well.
Books: Yes. Music: Sometimes. TV: Action. Movies: Good ones. Foods: Yes, food is my favorite. Travel: I’ve been to 14 countries on three continents. That’s not an answer, I’m just bragging. Random entry: the sauce.
6. Tell us about what your role is on a week-to-week basis as part of the conservative movement.
Well mostly, I troll Twitter and jump from website to website, looking for something to blog about. I watch the three cable news channels during the day and pretend everything is OK at night, so I can sleep without tremors. I think the main thing that I do in the area of activism is share information, occasionally write a semi-popular blog post, and basically try to put a little entertainment value on the whole thing. The rest of the time, I pretty much do tech support and some freelance graphic design work. I’m not an international spy for a secret government agency, if that’s what you mean.
7. I talked a good bit with you at Right Online about what our proper view should be of politicians and the political system. From your perspective, who are 3 conservatives who are productively active in politics today and why would you characterize them as such?
Erick Erickson, Ed Morrissey, and Glen Asbury. Erick moves the ball. He’s the rare example of someone from the blogosphere who is routinely cited by “real news”, who is actually on a real news channel, who has his own radio show…and he started down here in the trenches. Ed Morrissey is another one who really affects what people hear and know about. Hot Air is my first stop when I start surfing the web looking for the news of the day. He also brings a sort of centered calm that a lot of the rest of us who blog rarely achieve. And Glen Asbury, well, that one is just plain obvious.
8. When did you get started with blogging and later, with Twitter, and more importantly, WHY do you do what you do?
In blogging, you don’t really have a “start”. We’re all basically “just some guy” going on the internet and saying whatever the hell we feel like saying whenever we want to say it. So I guess you could say I got my start “blogging” when I started running my mouth sometime around 4 years old. I’m full of uninformed opinions, and what better way to try to and get people to listen to my crackpot theories than the internet?
Mainly, I just do this because I like doing it. To put it another way, nobody blogs/tweets/podcasts for the money. Although if anyone wants to buy me off…let’s talk.
I think one thing people miss in doing…whatever the hell this is we are all doing, is that there are a million opinions out there, and an overwhelming amount of news. Regurgitation, or even simple amateur punditry, will be swallowed up in the deluge if it isn’t interesting. You have to enjoy doing this to do this because a lot of the time, what you say is going to vanish into the background noise. I like the process of trying to present an opinion in a way that people will want to read it. I enjoy trying to build an audience. Not being good at it doesn’t take away from that. I guess the best example is that the podcast is the most fun thing I take part in, with easily the least amount of return with regard to audience.
9. Tell us about “The Needle” podcast with Lori Ziganto…how it got started, why you chose the name you did and what the point of it all is.
Podcasting is probably the best example of a fun thing I take part in, with easily the least amount of return with regard to audience, when compared to blogging or Twitter. Lori (@snarkandboobs on Twitter) and I record “The Needle” weekly with our producer, Eric Morris. The tagline is “If politics were drugs, this show would be the needle.” You know, for the children.
It was started by a secret society in a tavern in 1794, but of course, they had no way of recording it. So they would just meet and then talk at each other for an hour, and then go try and summarize it to other people randomly in the town square. For a time, it wasn’t very successful. Then one day, Lori and I were looking for Freemason clues in the one dollar bill. Long story short, a quick break-in at Buckingham palace and many, many bloody casualties later, here we are!
I think if I were to summarize the point as succinctly and (hopefully) eloquently as possible, I would say it’s an excuse for Lori and me to make boob jokes and curse. Also we talk about politics and whatever.
10. Share a couple of exciting moments that have occurred through being involved in advancing the conservative cause…and also some goals for the future that still remain unfulfilled.
Exciting moments? We’re still talking about blogging and tweeting right? I guess some of the best stuff has been traveling to a few dozen tea parties in ‘09, blogging the conventions in ‘08, and a trip to Turkey to write about the political situation there. Also, being dirt poor is kind of exciting, in a “You’re scared when you wake up” sort of way. For the future: like any blogger, I dream of being good enough, or funny enough, or lucky enough, that I can someday do some real writing for some real scratch. (Take note, major publications: I can use the noun form of “scratch” in a sentence!)