I recall David Brooks’ comment on my book, The Conservative Soul, where he declaimed that my concern with religious fundamentalism taking over the GOP was a function of bad faith or ignorance. And yet here we have a clear policy position distorted beyond reason by fundamentalist claptrap. Add the support for Israeli settlements to the mix as well. It’s those who refuse to see or downplay religious fanaticism in the current GOP who are either writing in bad faith or have no idea what they are talking about.
-- Andrew Sullivan, May 3, 2013
First of all, I'm glad Mr. Sullivan responded to my prodding to say something even mildly critical of David Brooks by sifting through their long history of mash notes to find something to complain about. I know Mr. Sullivan regularly reads this blog and that it sometimes affects the trajectory of his writing, but that he is also incredibly uncomfortable and unprepared to deal with the criticisms I raise, and so he ignores me.
Which is fine. I guess some of us 2008 Weblog Award winners are made of sterner stuff than others.
Second, if you actually go clickty-click on the link he provided, you will find that, other than the mild "declamation" made by Mr. Brooks and cited by Mr. Sullivan above, the column is mostly an awfully big, awfully wet public kiss from his friend, David Brooks:
His book is important, not only because he is willing to re-examine his own views relentlessly, but also because this is a moment when conservatism is in tumult, with old alliances breaking down, new divisions widening into chasms. I happen to be friends with Sullivan, and with many of the people he attacks, and I have no idea how we will all regard one another in five years.And
Andrew Sullivan is one of the best bloggers in the world,And
“The Conservative Soul” is imbued with Sullivan’s characteristic passion and clarity.
Over the past few years I’ve watched Sullivan’s pessimism about Iraq lead to a broader re-examination of politics and ideas. As he’s made this journey, I’ve come to regard him as a traveling companion. He’s been more honest and open-minded than just about anybody else on the right.And so forth.
This is a family squabble between two people who are working the same scam. Two people who each want to be King of True Conservative Mountain without being forced to face the fact that the mountain itself is a dung-heap and that each of them owe their careers to a lifetime spent mining wingnut poison out of that dung-heap as it were the fucking Treasure of the Sierra Madre.
You see, Mr. Sullivan began gagging on the rot in the Republican Party's bones about 40 years too late -- midway through the Bush Fiasco Years -- and very reluctantly and often very petulantly began to change his tune...but never his melody: the dorm-room, bong-dream Pro-Gay, Pro-Choice, Pro-Pot, Pro-Socialized Medicine Conservatism which he had been purveying his entire life was still the True Conservatism, which had somehow been hijacked and betrayed by religious fanatics aided and abetted by George W. Bush and Sarah Palin.
Bad Bush! Bad Palin!
If only some League of True Conservative Gentlemen could wrest control of Mr. Sullivan's pipe-dreams away from the Actual Conservatives who live in the real world, everything might be set right. But until that happy day, Mr. Sullivan must reluctantly change his Facebook Political Status to Independent/Libertarian and lob thunderbolts at Fox and MSNBC.
Because, y'know, Both Sides!
Meanwhile, Mr. Brooks -- who is an entirely different person -- began noticing that not-so-fresh smell coming from the soul of the Republican Party slightly later on during the Bush Fiasco Years -- say, 42 years too late -- and very reluctantly and often very petulantly began to change his tune...but never his melody: the dorm-room, bong-dream Whig National Greatness Conservatism he had been begun recently purveying in a desperate attempt to never, ever admit that the Left was right all along was still the True Conservatism, which (ignoring the inconvenient fact that it is not "either/or" but "both") had somehow been hijacked and betrayed, not by religious fanatics but by ideologues like Ann Coulter and Donald Rumsfeld.
The intellectual brutality Sullivan describes in these pages, and which does mark American life, has more to do with bad character and political partisanship than theological rigor, and Sullivan is wrong to claim its roots are religious in nature. The people who are most destructively closed-minded in America are people like Donald Rumsfeld, Ann Coulter and Howard Dean, and they are not exactly religious nuts.
Bad Rummy! Bad Coulter! Bad...Dean?
If only some League of True Whig Conservative Gentlemen could wrest control of Mr. Brooks' pipe-dreams away from the Actual Conservatives who live in the real world, everything might be set right. But until that happy day, Mr. Brooks must reluctantly change his MySpace Political Status to "Centrist" and lob thunderbolts at Paul Krugman and Eric Cantor.
Because, y'know, Both Sides!
Meanwhile, each man retains a virtually unbroken record of methodically evading the central Liberal critiques of Conservatism -- real Conservatism as it is practiced in the real world -- and of rewriting history whenever those Liberal critiques cut too close to the professional bone. And it is in these two traits more than any other that each man truly marks himself as a True Conservative.