When Tina Korbe, 23, former Hot Air blogger extraordinaire recently turned think tank policy wonk, was in college, the Oklahoma native was largely apolitical.
Majoring in journalism at the University of Arkansas, Korbe had “imbibed conservative values” growing up partly in Oklahoma. But she was not deeply involved in politics and not by any means an activist.
“I had college friends who campaigned for Barack Obama,” Korbe recalled. “I thought ‘Well, I don’t really like what I am hearing from him.’ But I didn’t feel compelled to be an activist.” She was busy both with her studies and social life: Korbe had been Arkansas Junior Miss in 2006, which carries both a scholarship and a crown.
A senior when the massive health care bill, now known as ObamaCare, was signed into law in 2010, Korbe had been horrified by the way the bill “was crammed through Congress,” and that was enough to make Korbe “a fighting conservative.” ObamaCare had politicized her.
Korbe, who was editor of the school newspaper, The Arkansas Traveler, and graduated summa cum laude, had been planning to go to law school. Instead, newly fired up by the passage of the Affordable Care Act, she applied to the Heritage Foundation. She was hired as a staff writer at the foundation’s Center for Media and Public Policy, which does investigative journalism.
“One of the great things about the Heritage Foundation is that they give you tons of free books,” said Korbe, who turns 24 on May 23rd.
“That is when I began digging into the philosophical foundations of conservatism, and that solidified everything I was thinking and feeling based on the news,” she said. She signed up for Heritage’s First Principles series that features cornerstone works of conservatism. Korbe reread The Federalist Papers. “Looking at it from a conservative perspective was a re-education,” Korbe said.
She read Friedrich von Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom, a classic warning about the perils of central planning and government control for the first time, and marveled that many people make it through college without reading Hayek.
Korbe has been in a good position to observe Washington’s political and intellectual battles. She thinks that the charge that Republicans are engaged in a “war on women” is bogus.
“There is definitely not a war on women,” she said. “If there is a war on anything it is a war on fertility and femininity. If there is one freedom feminists seem to want, it is the freedom to be men. That’s the one freedom we don’t have.
She does not apply the term feminist to herself. “I don’t think it resonates as much with my generation as it did with my mom’s,” she continued. “There are two reasons: We’re more pro-life and we really haven’t experienced the discrimination that gave rise to feminism. I’ve never sought an opportunity and felt that I was at a disadvantage because I am a woman.”
After making a name for herself at Heritage, Korbe was hired last year to be a writer for HotAir.com the very hot website that features Ed Morrissey and pseudonymous Allahpundit. At HotAir, Korbe became something of a conservative It Girl, writing with verve on everything from political races to social issues. In April, Korbe announced in a “Thanks for a year to remember” post that she was leaving HotAir to become Policy Impact Director at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.
Speaking from Oklahoma, Korbe was asked how she could give up the excitement of Washington for Oklahoma. She said that she will be able to “target my writing to legislators” so she can have a more direct impact in her new job.
“Like any true conservative (especially any Catholic conservative),” she wrote in her last post for HotAir, “ I believe strongly in the principle of subsidiarity, in the idea that problems are best solved at the most local level possible, starting with the family.”
As a conservative who believes in family, Korbe admitted that her parents, who live in Oklahoma, were a big draw—and, not irrelevant to her decision, Korbe is engaged to be married. Her fiancé is a drilling engineer for an oil company in Oklahoma. The wedding will be in September.
“I believe that the family is the fundamental unit of society and that so many problems can be traced to the break of the family,” Korbe said.
Korbe worries about the impact of the hooking up culture on college campuses because she thinks it leads to “numbness” and “weakens the ability to connect in the future and form a lifelong partnership.”
She admits to a certain pessimism about politics. “I am nervous about the direction in which we’re heading,” she said. “In the U.S., because we have never lived with all-out socialism or communism, there is still a lot of flirtation with these ideas.”
Although Korbe doesn’t rule out returning to Washington some day, she is excited about her new job. “In Oklahoma, there’s a lot of opportunity [to have an impact] because more people are moving into the state and a lot of progressives are coming into the state.”
Well, wait until they meet Tina Korbe.