Although George Will and Charles Krauthammer might arguably be considered the premier conservative opinion columnists in the United States, Mark Steyn could be seen to be gaining ground. The interesting thing about Steyn is that he's not only popular here -- he's widely-read in Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand -- a sort of 21st century Anglosphere man.
Although I enjoy Steyn in general, I appreciate one particular aspect of his writing. That is the fact that he has more or less spontaneously managed to write in what I would call an Anglosphere voice and style. He is a Canadian who resides in New Hampshire, and who writes quite regularly for the American, Canadian, British (despite his temporary hiatus), and Australian press. Without particularly hiding either his Canadian nationality or his American residence, he manages to write on the politics of all four countries easily and familiarly. He does this without either adopting the sort of patronizing "I know your country" interjection of local detail (usually superficial), of the sort that a certain species of reporter will drop after two weeks (or two days) in the country, or the equally grating "Message from Abroad" tone. That is to say, when Mark is writing about, for example, Australia, he neither pretends that he is Crocodile Dundee's first cousin, nor tries to come across as the Quasi-Official Bearer of the Canadian Viewpoint to the Australians. What he does bring is a fairly good idea of how Howard's performance compares to Blair's, Harper's, or Bush's, and an ability to discuss it comfortably.
In a way, he is a harbinger of the disintermediation I expect to be more and more characteristic in coming years. There is a small group of academics and journalists who dine out on being the Explainer of Canada (or Britain, or Australia) to Americans, or vice versa. These people have a vested interest in maximizing the differences among us -- obviously, the more different, the more need for explanation. Although of course there are differences, and they are interesting and worthy of discussion, so are the similarities, which tend to get buried. The more the Web and other means of lowering the transaction costs of interacting proliferate, the less need we will have of this sort of interlocutor. Instead, I think we will see more writers with the sort of easy and unforced Anglospheric voice of Steyn. I just hope they have half his sense of humor.
The 20th century saw the English-speaking nations come together twice to put down outrages against freedom in Europe, in Asia to fight the Japanese, and then to fight the communist Koreans and Viet Namese. The bond between these countries is already strong and with the improvements in communication and the dropping cost in travel, will only become stronger.
Mark Steyn is a conservative, but liberals who don't fall prey to the politically-correct hatred of Anglo-Saxon culture will follow. A global culture the equal of Islam is developing. The phenomenon to watch will be that of England and its children drawing together as a force much larger than the United States by itself. A force that will dominate the 21st century even more than it did the 20th. Why, you ask?
Because India will join it.