I feel the ascension of Jonah Goldberg is an example of just how intellectually bankrupt…how much conservatism is just a kind of movement shtick rather than a thoughtful position. ~Eric Alterman
I would like to be able to say that Alterman is all wrong, even if it would mean giving Goldberg some minimal credit, but as far as the official conservatism of the mainstream goes it is difficult to find fault with this description.
Then again, no one really wants to make a list of the conservatives whom liberals consider respectable and decent, and no one wants to be on a list that includes Andrew Sullivan.
Update: Speaking of Sullivan, Alterman reminds us of just how outrageously pro-war and insulting to antiwar people Sullivan was in the old days before he realised that the pro-war bandwagon was going off a cliff. He notes (correctly) the absurdity that the more or less repentant hawks and newborn skeptics still presume to speak with authority on foreign policy after having been so completely wrong on Iraq. He adds (rightly) that their admitting being wrong on Iraq isn’t sufficient to restore confidence in their judgement: they have to be able to demonstrate that they understand why they got it so wrong and also demonstrate how they have changed in their thinking that would avoid these same pitfalls later. I know Sullivan thinks he has addressed this with his laughable “conservatism of doubt” and his terrible book, but as with so many other things Sullivan is very wrong.
Alterman also paints an amusing picture of Christopher Hitchens “getting high with Paul Wolfowitz and Bill Kristol.” I assume he means this figuratively.