Cowboys and Indians, boys and girls, Commonweal and First Things: some rivalries are so elemental that a truce could only be a disappointment. I feared nothing so unhappy when I began to read Matthew Sitman’s reply to an argument made by Matthew Schmitz in the Washington Post that while Pope Francis and Donald Trump have opposite views, they share a common style that matters more for their popularity and says more about our moment. Sitman says that such “stilted observations are, finally, perhaps as much useless as they are wrong.” A promising start.
Then something goes wrong. He says that Schmitz is “right to draw attention to our ‘populist’ moment, a moment in which people are distrustful of inherited institutions and am longing for change. It probably is true that the ‘neoliberal’ consensus of the last few decades, if that’s really what it was, is unraveling.” Because I read this as the main aim of Schmitz’s article, I wonder if Sitman is exaggerating his disagreement.
At the risk of sounding paranoid, I must point to a few other facts. We know that a young man going by the name Matthew S—— has taken a job at a small, debatably Catholic, New York magazine, where he writes on political and literary matters. He comes from rural America and was raised in an Evangelical household. Now, this is an equally accurate description of Mr. Sitman and Mr. Schmitz, a coincidence of facts suggesting either a very clever conspiracy or a miracle of diabolical bilocation. Are these not simply two identities of the same man—working two jobs, drawing two salaries, even manufacturing debates with himself?
Kev Kevin is a vaginal console operator in Fedville, Louisiana.