Three spheres

Ross Douthat has a reasonably interesting take on the closing of the conservative mind:

Think of American conservatism as divided into three spheres: There’s the elite world of pundits and intellectuals (consisting of think tanks, policy journals, political magazines like National Review and The Weekly Standard, certain blogs, etc.), the broader world of “the movement” (consisting of populist media outlets like talk radio and Fox News, diffuse activist groups like the Tea Parties, websites like RedState and its imitators, and issue-based pressure groups like the N.R.A. and the National Right-to-Life Committee, etc.), and then the institutional world of the Republican Party (consisting of office-holders, staffers, fundraisers, consultants, etc.). Obviously these spheres blur into one another: pundits and intellectuals show up on Fox News, politicians become movement celebrities and then transition back to being politicians again, some think tanks look a lot like pressure groups, etc. But I think it’s still a useful way of dividing up a sprawling and diverse ecosystem.

On domestic policy, I think the intellectual right doesn’t have nearly as much of a close-mindedness problem as many people seem to think…..

The problem, as I’ve argued before, is that with rare exceptions (a Mitch Daniels, a Paul Ryan), there aren’t many Republican politicians who seem interested in taking up the best right-of-center policy ideas and fighting for them.

This isn’t wrong. He gives the intellectual right far too much credit — their proposals are largely bullshit too — but he’s right that is far more diverse and open-minded than the Foxosphere. Jim Manzi isn’t Paul Krugman, intellectually, but his ideas are based on some form of reality.

By chance, since I started reading a lot of conservative blogs (in place of Politico), I had been thinking there were three spheres of intellectual conservatism. These are philosophical rather than structural divisions. First off, we have to exclude “legacy conservatives” — people who are identify as conservative simply because of the way they were brought up (e.g. Chris Buckley) or because they think their school-day intellectual predilections make them life-long conservatives (e.g. Andrew Sullivan). Once we’ve excluded these crypto-liberals, we’re left with three basic divisions:

  1. “Atlas Shrugged” conservatives: Megan McArdle, the Reasonoids, Larry Kudlow, etc.
  2. “Chronicles Of Narnia” conservatives: Ross Douthat, Peggy Noonan, many other Catholic conservatives.
  3. “300” conservatives: Victor David Hanson, war bloggers, any neoconservatives.

There’s lots of overlap, especially among the “Atlas Shrugged” and “300” crowds: Glenn Reynolds, Pam Geller, etc.

Is this about right? For what it’s worth, I’ve come to enjoy reading the “Chronicles of Narnia” conservatives.

102 replies
  1. 1
    aimai says:

    “Chronicles of Narnia Conservatives?” FTW. I was a huge fan of the Chronicles when I was very, very, young but when I was just slightly more than that I spotted the incredible logical and moral flaws. The grown up writers like Douthat, Noonan, et al who took Chesterton and Lewis as their theological instructors never seem to grasp those flaws. The childish, lecturing, hectoring side of Narnia, along with the fluffy appropriation of greek and roman mythology, the pretty-prettying of feudalism, and the forelock tugging of the badgers is what they got out of it. And they think that is moral reasoning? That they get paid to try to translate modern moral issues and dilemmas into the toddler speak of Aslan’s morality remains an astounding fact.

    aimai

  2. 2
    rollSound says:

    I love this, although I think my brother may try to deck me if I call him a “Narnia conservative”.

    I’ve always thought “Atlas Shrugged” was the wrong Rand book to typify the her followers, as it gives them way too much intellectual credit. That crowd is much better described by the novella “Anthem” (or, “Going Galt for Dummies”), which is a vision of being a strong individual amidst a society of sheep as envisioned by a four-year-old throwing a tantrum.

  3. 3
    DougJ says:

    @aimai:

    I find them by far the least offensive, though.

  4. 4
    MattR says:

    If only I knew how to use the three seashells.

  5. 5
    IM says:

    Is this about right? For what it’s worth, I’ve come to enjoy reading the “Chronicles of Narnia” conservatives.

    Really? why? The only chronicle of Narnia conservative I read – apart from C. S. Lewis himself – is Larison. Douthat is intellectual dishonest, Dreher is a barely dressed up bigot and the rest are rather raw material for sadly no.

    Or do mean enjoy in the sadly no/alicublog sense?

  6. 6
    Bob L says:

    Well, at lest the “Chronicles Of Narnia” conservatives have a value system that has some history behind it. As opposed to “Atlas Shrugs” conservatives which an attempt to pretend psychopathic greed isn’t a bad thing and “300” conservatives, which is middle age white boys wanting to believe their adolescent fantasies were true.

    The Catholics and the Liberatians, now there is an utterly contradictory alliance.

  7. 7
    taylormattd says:

    Whenever I see “Chronicles of Narnia,” I now think of that Andy Samberg SNL youtube skit. Love that song.

  8. 8
    licensed to kill time says:

    Who will draw the Venn diagram? Will Aslan be in the center?

  9. 9
    IM says:

    The childish, lecturing, hectoring side of Narnia, along with the fluffy appropriation of greek and roman mythology, the pretty-prettying of feudalism, and the forelock tugging of the badgers is what they got out of it.

    Prettying up of feudalism is very common in fantasy books. And fluffy appropriation of celtic and germanic mythology is almost mandatory.

    But what do I know. I am a Tolkien fan, who critizied Lewis for not being reactionary enough.

  10. 10
    el donaldo says:

    Douthat has a reasonably interesting take on a lot of things. Trouble is, what he’s able to draw out of his take on things is almost always wholly wrong. The lesson to be learned here is more like despite the ability to parse conservatism out into three separate affiliations, that variety has not been introducing a necessary diversity of thought and opinion. Sure, you can hold someone like Bobo up and say that he’s not marching in lockstep, but no one in the conservative movement, institution, or punditocracy is paying attention to Bobo.

    And Noonan produces gibberish, as any Wonkette reader can tell you.

  11. 11
    Punchy says:

    Where do Phony Conservatives fit into that Venn?

    Ya know, the ones who preach Family Values?
    1) Limbaugh (thrice divorced)
    2) Billy Bennet (serial gambler)
    3) Foley, Haggard, Craig, etc.

    The one that preach fiscal conservatism?
    1) Bush II
    2) 2003 Repub Congress and the Medicare Plan D shit
    3) Iraq/Afghan wars off-budget “expenses”

    The ones the preach abstinence?
    1) Palin
    2) The states of Alabama, Miss, Tenn, and all the other southern ones that lead in teen pregnancy

  12. 12
    MattF says:

    Don’t forget the Trotskyites.

  13. 13

    I’m not sure I know what you’re getting at with “Narnia conservatives,” but I do think it’s interesting to note that noted smart-guy intellectual New York Times conservative writer Ross Douthat doesn’t actually know what epistemic closure refers to.

  14. 14
    David in NY says:

    I’m just hoping this taxonomy catches on. That would be a Good Thing.

    [Only caveat — took me a moment to figure out that 300 referred to some really stupid movie I never would have gone to. Though I may be the wrong measure, I never read Atlas Shrugged either.]

  15. 15
    freelancer says:

    @MattR

    Gawd, did that movie suck.

  16. 16
    DougJ says:

    I’m not sure I know what you’re getting at with “Narnia conservatives,”

    Magic dolphins, etc.

  17. 17
    Comrade Mary says:

    Chronicles of Narnia is a great category, even if it does make me crave cupcakes. So who are the dick in a box conservatives?

  18. 18
    cleek says:

    oh now, you just don’t understand conservatives. they’re so complex and deep and multifaceted that they defy your attempt at analysis!

    for example, see if you can make sense out of this bunch of idiocy and seething resentment

    teabaggers don’t want tax cuts, they just want their hallucinations to stop !

  19. 19
    dan says:

    Where do the Christians (not Catholics) fall in?

  20. 20
    Fwiffo says:

    I think “Red Dawn Conservatives” might be a better name than “300 Conservatives”. Wolverines!

  21. 21
    Violet says:

    Your list is for intellectual conservatism, but the anti-intellectual conservatives are a key part of the movement. I propose:

    “Dukes of Hazard” conservatives – any southern good ol’ boy Republican will fit this mold.

    “The Passion of the Christ” conservatives – evangelical Christians go here.

  22. 22
    DanF says:

    What I find interesting is not so much the divisions, but the fact that Douthat divides organizationally among the power centers. I realize Ross isn’t a great thinker, but I wonder if this is how conservatives see themselves. That is, they are more concerned with where they fall in the divisions of power rather than the ideological divisions. Would office holders really see themselves as a distinct, and separate group? That strikes me as bullshit, but then again, I’m not an authoritarian.

  23. 23
    DougJ says:

    Where do the Christians (not Catholics) fall in?

    Most are probably not intellectual about it, but if they are, they are Narniaists too.

  24. 24
    N M says:

    is that “enjoy reading” in the sense of “blogs we monitor and mock as needed”?

  25. 25
    DougJ says:

    “The Passion of the Christ” conservatives – evangelical Christians go here.

    I think I’d go with “Left Behind” instead.

  26. 26
    Jay B. says:

    “Chronicles Of Narnia” conservatives: Ross Douthat, Peggy Noonan, many other Catholic conservatives.

    Feh. I put these assholes in the same group as the David Brooks, Ponnaru or Ann Althouse in that they occasionally thrill liberals with their ‘reasonableness’ or talk about their moderate inclinations only to make an embarrassing equivalency between the faults of the right with the faults of the right. Douthat’s recent comparison between the long-running pedophilia scandal in the Catholic Church and the left’s embrace of “sexual permissiveness”. It’s a child’s argument made by a disingenuous hack. And all of them, along with Richard Cohen among other “liberals” who have the same basic schtick, are smug, witless assholes.

    To me, they are a passive-aggressive lot, which I guess makes them less aggressively annoying. But I don’t find them interesting thinkers (in Noonan’s case, I’m not even sure that “thinker” is in play with any modifier), nor compelling voices.

    And really, I WOULD like interesting opposition voices.

  27. 27
    DougJ says:

    @N M:

    is that “enjoy reading” in the sense of “blogs we monitor and mock as needed”?

    No, I find their points interesting. They’re often quite logical despite being crazy.

  28. 28
    El Cid says:

    Narniatarians?

  29. 29
    EconWatcher says:

    I wanted to say that you’re missing a category. I tried to think of an intellectual currently writing who represents the political tendency of, say, George Schultz (or George H.W. Bush, for that matter). Not crypto-liberal, but mostly pragmatic in foreign policy, inclined towards market solutions but not fanatically so, and secular in orientation.

    But I can’t think of any modern intellectual who fits that bill. So I guess the category is extinct, and your three categories pretty much cover it. That’s a shame.

  30. 30
    Gregory says:

    The problem, as I’ve argued before, is that with rare exceptions (a Mitch Daniels…

    Wha…? I’d admit he hasn’t sucked too much as governor of Indiana, but Mitch “Deficits” Daniels signed off on all of Dubya’s hare-brained trickle-down, Laffer-Curve, supply-side bullshit, and lo and behold, a fiscal mess ensued that the Tea Partiers are only now kvetching about. And I have little doubt that if state law didn’t prevent it, he’d do the same thing here. “Borrow and spend” is one of the most hallowed Republican policy ideas, but it’s neither new nor surprising if someone fights for it.

    Feh.

  31. 31
    Some Guy says:

    I like the new divisions, but I think Douthat is wrong to lump Fox in with the movement. The media industry conservatives are, as Frum rightly noted, grounded in conservatism as an ideological product to market. It brings eyes and ad dollars. It is absolutely not about governance. That is truly closed since the system of production is the same programming that markets the product.

    The “movement” if one can call it that, also homogenizes a number of distinct but overlapping social groups. Prolife and militia movements intersect but they are not the same, for instance (a Venn diagram would be handy here).

    That conservatism is supposed to be about ideas, though, is just blah-blah talk. Everyone wants to say they are about ideas because ideas connotes gravitas and maturity. It is a meaningless term in this context. Thinking Obama is a Kenyan is an idea. So is bombing Iran. So is opposing regulating financial derivatives markets. That they are all “ideas” is beside the point. All conservatives have ideas. The problem is their ideas, by and large, are completely divorced from social improvement and are trapped in a cage of fears, resentments, and victimage narratives. Today’s conservatives, on the whole, have no ideas related to a positive vision of the future. Their ideas regarding the major challenges (the environment, financial stability, and changing demographic makeup of the United States), are all grounded in denial. Their ideas are that these things should not exist as problems, or more foolishly, that they are not real at all. Just more enemies to whoopass on and toy revolutions to flirt with. It is a moribund, ignorant, hateful set of ideas wrapped in fantasy nostalgia.

    So forgive me Ross, but I tired of the cheap move of marking off some purer, cleaner, more intelligent conservatism. You cannot disown the majority of conservatives who happen to like their ideas and not yours. You know, the ones that involve overthrowing the legitimate government of the U.S. in favor of some neo-anarchic state run by talking heads and armed “patriots.”

  32. 32
    N M says:

    @cleek: Love the author’s first wade into the comments. Last line is priceless:

    “Now, I know that none of this logic or consistency of thinking will mean a thing to you, but deep down inside you know I’m right and that agitates you … so my work here is done.”

    Self assured FTW.

  33. 33
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @cleek:

    Good god.

    The Tea Party movement isn’t about “us,” it’s about something more important than us; it’s about this place we call America. And no bribe in the form of any kind of personal tax cut or government handout will buy us off when it comes to protecting this country.

    I see. So it’s not about taxes. You know that your taxes went down. So all of those signs, and protests about high taxes..

    Oy.

    Yes, it’s about “future taxes”, in that clairvoyant sense that even though the health care bill, that he opposed, will actually lower spending, not raise it….

    What’s amazing though is he just concedes the entire first line of BS about “we’re being taxed to death!” as nonsense.

    Step by step, I guess.

  34. 34
    charlequin says:

    Douthat correctly identifies that the conservative thinkosphere is dramatically less doctrinarian and close-minded than the conservative yaposphere makes it out to be, but he’s unsurprisingly missing the reason why: a movement whose goal is to ignore actual problems and instead peddle snake oil for purposes of its own enrichment is not particularly well-served by a crowd of intellectuals debating the relative merits of various flavors of said snake oil (much less those who actually want to think about ways to actually treat the underlying illness with real medicine) — they want to mass-produce one jar and sell it to everyone.

    Also: “Narnia conservatives” is too perfect and I will adopt this term into my daily life immediately.

  35. 35
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @N M: From the comments there also we have this gem:

    Bill Mahr is Jon Stewart’s backwards cousin, both of the same damaged gene pool. Both are humorless loons

    Quite. I think one thing we can all agree on, be we left, right, or center, is that Jon Stewart is humorless.

  36. 36
    Violet says:

    @DougJ:

    I think I’d go with “Left Behind” instead.

    Good point. That was a movie, right?

    @EconWatcher:

    But I can’t think of any modern intellectual who fits that bill. So I guess the category is extinct, and your three categories pretty much cover it. That’s a shame.

    Category: Dinosaur Republicans?

    @ El Cid: I love “Narnatarians.”

  37. 37

    but he’s right that ^it is far more diverse and open-minded than the Foxosphere.

    This is like me saying if you think my ass is hairy, you should see my cat’s.

    As for CoN conservatives, from what I’ve seen that must mean people who’ve read their Lewis but didn’t get the joke.

  38. 38
    Some Guy says:

    Contemporary “elite” conservative rhetoric: common tropes are “ideas,” “serious,” Burke-Oakeshott-Strauss or BOS, “responsibility,” “limited”

    Or, thoughtful restraint makes us moral and better than you.

    Contemporary “media” conservative rhetoric: common tropes are “tyranny,” “socialism,” “immigrants,” “patriots,” “revolution,” “founding fathers.”

    Or, we are true Americans and we will save it from enemies within.

    One is self-congratulatory and cosmetic, the other is as dangerous as it is deranged.

  39. 39
    Mike in NC says:

    sprawling and diverse ecosystem

    That’s an interesting description, but of course one could argue that a cesspool is also a sprawling and diverse ecosystem.

  40. 40
    Third Eye Open says:

    @freelancer: C’mon, it was the most expensive gay soft-core porn ever made. It also was the underlying cause of the great western-hemisphere body-oil shortage of 2006.

  41. 41
    RSA says:

    Very nice taxonomy. I won’t try to add to it, but I’ll observe that in all these categories, it’s very easy to tell the good guys from the bad guys. In fact, a single glance and a snap judgment are all it takes. How fitting.

  42. 42
    cleek says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim:

    i just can’t get enough of the “protect our beloved country”, hyper-patriotic, quasi-besieged-military, fap-tastic rhetoric that they all use.

    was the Wingnut Prose Style Guide written by Braveheart ?

  43. 43
    Midnight Marauder says:
    The problem, as I’ve argued before, is that with rare exceptions (a Mitch Daniels, a Paul Ryan), there aren’t many Republican politicians who seem interested in taking up the best right-of-center policy ideas and fighting for them.

    This isn’t wrong. He gives the intellectual right far too much credit—their proposals are largely bullshit too—but he’s right that is far more diverse and open-minded than the Foxosphere. Jim Manzi isn’t Paul Krugman, intellectually, but his ideas are based on some form of reality.

    I don’t know. I actually think this is kind of wrong, DougJ. The biggest problem with this line of thinking is that it propagates the idea that Mitch Daniels is some kind of logical, sane Republican, fighting the good fight in the maelstrom of crazy; that he is an exception somehow. But as Gregory gets at in his comment, there is nothing exceptional about My Man Mitch; he’s as intellectually bereft and malignant as the rest of them. Got some government service you want privatized? No problem! My Man Mitch has got you covered, just like with the toll road fiasco. Same thing with Paul Ryan. His roadmap proposal for the Republican Party would devastate Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and anything else that makes up the social safety net.

    Mitch Daniels and Paul Ryan aren’t taking up any right-of-center ideas and fighting for them. Ryan’s roadmap is as radical and fringe as they come. And you say that “Jim Manzi isn’t Paul Krugman, intellectually, but his ideas are based on some form of reality.” Okay, but what exactly is that reality? I would argue that for most conservative writers, the fundamental reality that shapes the perspective of their writing is not all that different from the people out protesting with signs saying “KEEP GOVERNMENT OUT OF MY MEDICARE!” Sure, people like Manzi, Douthat, Noonan, et. all have moments of lucidity and coherent sounding thought. But the key to remember is that there are always rigid limitations placed on just how far out those thoughts can be extrapolated and applied to reality, given the rigidity of the worldview that undergirds their writings.

  44. 44
    WereBear says:

    I actually respect conservatism as classically defined: they were once the ones who said, “Ho there, Dr. Frankenstein, let’s discuss what might happen when we run electricity through a collection of sewn together dead body parts. You know, explore the implications a bit before we actually do it, what say?”

    That kind of ethic exploring is sorely needed in an age of rapidly evolving technologies, and that is actually what is completely lacking in the public discourse.

    What we have, marketed as conservatism, is a collection of deranged salespeople, Mammon worshipers, and professional scolds, who are about as far from preserving hardwon cultural wisdom as a badger is from vegetarianism.

    At this point, they are just peddling bullshit. I hear a lot of people wishing for “principled opposition.” You won’t get it as currently constituted.

  45. 45
    handy says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim:

    IOW it really is about the black guy in the White House.

  46. 46
    Paris says:

    3 spheres of conservatism:

    1) very wealthy greedy people who prefer to remain that way (i.e. think tank funders and Dick’s Army)

    2) stupid hicks who buy into greed as a positive attribute (Tea Party)

    3) eunuchs (Ross DoucheHat, Bobo).

  47. 47
    John W. says:

    Clever labels, but essentially you’re just looking at fiscal, social and “defense” conservatives with socially relevant nicknames – in other words, you’ve come to the same conclusion Reagan did decades a with his three legged stool analogy.

    All I know is that I hate the current incarnation of the right. It’s dishonest and bad for America, and there’s a lot of reasons why. We can play Freud all we want, but they’re ultimately the ones who have to change.

    By the way, here’s the 5 million dollar question: who are the idiotic swing voters leaning GOP right now? and why?

  48. 48
    Milo Johnson says:

    HA!! I think you owe me a monitor, a roll of paper towels, and a can of Diet Dr. Pepper!

  49. 49
    Jules says:

    @Fwiffo:

    I agree.
    Wolverines!

  50. 50
    LuciaMia says:

    I was a huge fan of the Chronicles when I was very, very, young but whe

    Voyage of the Dawntreader” was, and is still my favorite. The others, a little too heavy-handed.

  51. 51
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    I don’t know, I find people like David Brooks and Douthat far worse than Rush Limbaugh or whoever on the really foamy fringe. Because they seem lucid enough to know just what utter horseshit they peddle.

    Brooks has a way of taking some unrelated rambling essay and concluding from it some insane right wing talking point, and that his observation of which side of the container people eat their pudding while sitting in parks just proves that rich white people deserve to rape and pillage the economy to their heart’s content. So you have to go back through the article thinking wait, what now? trying to find the precise point where he went from boring and pretentious to criminally devoid of morals.

  52. 52
    David in NY says:

    @Paris:

    Hmmm. This may be an improvement on the original model.

  53. 53
    DanF says:

    Gack! I can’t believe I’ve let Douthat occupy more than two seconds of my life. I’ve finished his column and is he really arguing that there is a breadth of positions in the groups he identifies? Really? Wasn’t Frum just fired from the nuanced and flexible group the “elite world of pundits and intellectuals” for having a difference of opinion on HCR strategy?

  54. 54
    srv says:

    1) Galt’s Gulch – Randians
    2) Narnia – Narnians
    3) Sparta – Spartans

    These are the three realms/tribes that make up the Fluffersphere.

  55. 55
    Jules says:

    You need a place for the “wrong all the time” folks like Bill Kristol.

  56. 56
    artem1s says:

    teabaggers don’t want tax cuts, they just want their hallucinations to stop !

    this.I.am.so.using.it!

  57. 57
    Mike Schilling says:

    Douthat thinks that places that feature Jonah Goldberg, Andrew MacCarthy, Bill Kristol , and Michael Godfarb count as more intellectual than talk radio?

  58. 58
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @Mike Schilling: This is exactly my problem with this idea.

    To paraphrase one of my favorite writers: he gives an awful lot of credit for wearing a three-piece suit.

  59. 59
    scarshapedstar says:

    I second, or third, or whatever, the “Red Dawn” conservatives motion.

    I’d also like to throw in “Mein Kampf” Conservatives.

    This is pretty lame, but how about “Gene from ‘A Separate Peace'” conservatives? They railed at The Left after 9/11, they pushed us out of the tree and broke our collective leg, for no real reason other than jealousy. And now that Obama’s in office, they want to push us down the stairs.

  60. 60
    Lisa K. says:

    You cannot possibly enjoy reading Peggy Noonan.

    I think they are all indistinguishable assholes, myself.

  61. 61
    mistersnrub says:

    Btw, McMegan today wrote about her love of all things David Simon, which I found quite hilarious, considering this quote from Simon: “I do believe that raw, unencumbered capitalism, absent any social framework, absent any sense of community, without regard to the weakest and most vulnerable classes in society – it’s a recipe for needless pain, needless human waste, needless tragedy, and ultimately a coarsening of our society.”

  62. 62
    Original Lee says:

    I’m confused by the “Chronicles of Narnia” label. Admittedly, I’m sleep-deprived at the moment, and maybe it will make more sense tomorrow, but I don’t really understand why you’re applying it to conservative Catholics. I’m more inclined to agree with Paris’s divisions.

  63. 63
    jl says:

    I guess if you don’t count the several conservatives who recently have been ejected, defunded, fired, renounced, rejected, reviled and repudiated for making reasonable reality based criticisms of the current reactionary madness of ther fellows, the conservative movement is diverse.

    As for Manzi, who the heck is he, and why is he taken seriously. His botch of calculating annual economic growth rates of the US vs. the Eurosocialist slave states did not make him reality based. I don’t see that he ever provided the data sources or methods for his results that no one could reproduce even roughtly. I deal with undergrad and professional students every day who can do better research.

    Seriously, who is Manzi? Why does he have such cred?

    Oh, OK. I just checked wikipedia and it has an entry on Manzi. He went to MIT and PhD from Wharton. I guess that is were he gets his reputation.

  64. 64
    Lisa K. says:

    @John W.:

    who are the idiotic swing voters leaning GOP right now? and why?

    Swing voters by definition are idiotic, IMO. You know, them’s that who vote based on whether or not a guy is fun to have a beer with-the ultimate low information schlubs.

  65. 65
    The Noveliser says:

    I’m a -bestselling- mid-list author, and I’m gonna make millions from this.

    The Men of Talent are driven into exile by -unexceptional marginal tax rates- government oppression. Their absence emboldens the Baddies, who with the support of the Coastal Fifth Column, invade the US. The Martial Military Militia fights them to a standstill, but in order to defeat them entirely the Trip M needs to find 11-year-old Jonah Doughnut who stumbled into a magical realm known as The Hartland in the basement of his Church.

  66. 66
    David says:

    The Republican Party is made up of:

    1. the moldy, incoherent Teabaggers we see demonstrating and

    2. their followers

  67. 67
    MTiffany says:

    By chance, since I started reading a lot of conservative blogs (in place of Politico)…

    So the sixty-four thousand dollar question is… is there a noticeable difference between Bullshitico and the conservative blogs? A post on that would be an interesting read (IMHO).

  68. 68
    jl says:

    See if the s o s h u l i s t correction gets me out of moderation:

    I guess if you don’t count the several conservatives who recently have been ejected, defunded, fired, renounced, rejected, reviled and repudiated for making reasonable reality based criticisms of the current reactionary madness of ther fellows, the conservative movement is diverse.

    As for Manzi, who the heck is he, and why is he taken seriously? His botch of calculating annual economic growth rates of the US vs. the Euro s o s h u l i s t slave states did not make him reality based. I don’t see that he ever provided the data sources or methods for his results that no one could reproduce even roughtly. I deal with undergrad and professional students every day who can do better research.

    Seriously, who is Manzi? Why does he have such cred?

    Oh, OK. I just checked wikipedia and it has an entry on Manzi. He went to MIT and PhD from Wharton. I guess that is were he gets his reputation.

  69. 69
    jl says:

    @David:

    I would change

    “The Republican Party is made up of:

    1. the moldy, incoherent Teabaggers we see demonstrating and

    2. their followers”

    to

    “The Republican Party is made up of:

    1. upper crust cynical bad faith artist manipulators and swindlers

    2. their duped followers: the moldy, incoherent Teabaggers we see demonstrating”

  70. 70
    Shygetz says:

    I’m sorry, but if you count “300” as a wing of intellectual conservatism, you have to include the other, more sizable wing of conservatism. What shall we call it…”Birth of a Nation” conservatism?

  71. 71
    Legalize says:

    I think it is error to analyze the differences between conservative factions. They don’t really matter. What matters is what makes them all the same: They are self-absorbed assholes who despise anyone who isn’t just like them, and who would gladly push any one of us in front of a moving bus if there was any possibility that such would prevent their Blackberry/iPod/mini-van from being damaged.

  72. 72
    Tuffy says:

    I’d add Mein Kampf conservatives (Patty Patty Buke Buke).

    Edit: read through the thread and saw people got to this obvious idea before me. Oh well.

  73. 73
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    Three spheres, circle jerk…

    You say potato…

  74. 74
    Sasha says:

    Shouldn’t Sully be considered a Chronicles of Narnia Conservative as well?

  75. 75
    Menzies says:

    @DougJ:

    I came to think of intellectual conservatism the same way during the election. In my case I divided them between “wallet,” “church” and “war” conservatives, but I made much the same case for each, although I’m not nearly as well-read as you are.

    In the end, like you, I tend to enjoy the church ones the most, or at least am not quite as badly driven up the wall by them.

  76. 76
    timb says:

    @Midnight Marauder: You want to hear some great “the private system can do anything you can do AND better, meanie old government!” immediately followed by a terrible car crash and a reinstatement of the “terrible ” government, then read anything on Mitch’s grand idea to privatize food stamps and child welfare in this State. IBM failed here almost as much as they failed to encourage us all to use mainframes and terminals in the 80’s. Mitch is a nutter

  77. 77
    Bill Murray says:

    @Gregory: I think you may need to read more Doghouse Riley if you don’t think Daniels hasn’t sucked too much as Governor

  78. 78
    Polar Bear Squares says:

    Too too funny.

    No “play doh and bacon” conservatives?

  79. 79
    Scott P. says:

    “Now, I know that none of this logic or consistency of thinking will mean a thing to you, but deep down inside you know I’m right and that agitates you … so my work here is done.”

    This quote is interesting as it shows one way in which economic conservatives and evangelicals are linked. Folks on the right have this bizarre idea that everyone, even liberals, knows that they are right about everything but just refuse to admit it publically, for whatever selfish or bizarre reasons.

    In other words, evangelicals don’t believe that there are any atheists, really. Atheists believe god exists but just won’t say so.

    Among the many odd beliefs of conservatives, this one puzzles me the most. I mean, I have no problem believing that conservatives believe the things they say they do (at least most of the time — certainly they are capable of lying).

  80. 80
    Alex says:

    Personally, Charlie Crist is the absolute last Republican of any stature that I really respect any more, which means A) I probably don’t know enough about him, and B) He’ll be kicked out summarily. Looks like it’s already happening.

  81. 81
    Gregory says:

    @Bill Murray: Let me put it this way: I wouldn’t trade Daniels for Haley Barbour, Rick Perry, Mark Sanford or Bobby Jindal, capiche?

    ETA: If you like, consider my previous comment edited to read “hasn’t sucked too much for a Republican.”

  82. 82
    SGEW says:

    I can’t tell if this analysis is over thinking the issue or oversimplifying it. It’s one or the other, I think.

  83. 83
    New Yorker says:

    I dunno. I think we’re leaving out a huge swath here, and I don’t think Palin fits into any of these categories.

    What about “Birth of a Nation” conservatives as a fourth group to include all the lower-class white resentment-fueled conservatives who have made Lady Starbursts into an icon?

  84. 84
    Tim P. says:

    So where do the racists and anti-immigrant folks fit in?

    Edit: the above-suggested “Birth of a Nation” tag seems like a good label.

  85. 85
    dj spellchecka says:

    i think ross is wrong to lump fauxnews, the anal cyst, the weeper and other talk radio b-listers with the hordes of bloggers and teabaggers that believe their b.s.. faux and the others are corporatists, millionaires and/or hucksters…they’d start fluffing moveon and code pink in an instant if they thought there was a buck in it

  86. 86
    Phil P. says:

    @EconWatcher:

    Not crypto-liberal, but mostly pragmatic in foreign policy, inclined towards market solutions but not fanatically so, and secular in orientation.

    Elected Democrats, circa 2010. Don’t think that would (or ought to) fit into DougJ’s categorization though.

  87. 87
    DougJ says:

    I made much the same case for each, although I’m not nearly as well-read as you are.

    Of the books mentioned here, I’ve only actually read the first book from the Narnia series.

  88. 88
    DougJ says:

    @jl:

    As for Manzi, who the heck is he, and why is he taken seriously? His botch of calculating annual economic growth rates of the US vs. the Euro s o s h u l i s t slave states did not make him reality based. I don’t see that he ever provided the data sources or methods for his results that no one could reproduce even roughtly. I deal with undergrad and professional students every day who can do better research.

    I think his work is a good faith effort to do the impossible — come up with reasonable policies that are conservative in nature. Remember — there is almost no conservative infrastructure for doing this. I think it is a fool’s errand, but a good faith one.

  89. 89
    Sentient Puddle says:

    The big problem with the intellectual right, from my vantage point, is that they’re too obsessed with debating philosophy rather than policy. Way too often, they veer into saying things like “is this something the government should be involved in?” or “is this sort of thing morally right for society as a whole?” or “this is how the marketplace best deals with this non-economic issue” or whatever.

    And I’m sitting there reading the blog, eyes glazed over, thinking to myself “Well great, but where do you get to the point where you propose an actual solution to the damn problem at hand?” And rarely do I see anything more than the usual “less government” talking point.

    I don’t know if this has anything to do with anything. But eh. Throwing it out.

  90. 90
    Kyle says:

    So who are the dick in a box conservatives?

    I think Larry Craig and Ted Haggard would be willing to step forward…

  91. 91
    The Truffle says:

    How many of the Reasonoids are conservatives per se? I get the impression that Radley Balko, Kerry Howley, and Julian Sanchez are actual libertarians–i.e., not conservatives with socially liberal tendencies.

  92. 92
    The Golux says:

    @Kyle: I think those would be dick-not-in-a-box conservatives.

  93. 93
    Island in Alabama says:

    @jl:

    “The Republican Party is made up of:
    1. upper crust cynical bad faith artist manipulators and swindlers
    2. their duped followers: the moldy, incoherent Teabaggers we see demonstrating”

    Short form being: “The Republican Party is made up of grifters and stooges”.

    Is that about right?

  94. 94
    hitchhiker says:

    My categories would be

    Thinkers (They try, they really do . . . and some of them can write, which means they can come across as reasonable. Best example is Miss Noonan, but there are quite a few of them)

    Winkers (They don’t mean a word of it . . . but they’re willing to look completely stupid if they can make a lot of money doing it. Mr Beck, Ms Palin)

    Wankers (They’re just in it for the spite, and for the joy of being assholes in public and getting lots of attention for it; some of them probably do believe what they’re saying. Mr Limbaugh)

    Blinkers (Poor deer in the headlights followers of any of the above. They’re manipulated relentlessly and don’t understand why others can’t see what they see. Tea Party)

  95. 95
    The Truffle says:

    @hitchhiker: That’s about right, IMO.

    I’d enjoy reading them more, if they didn’t have a history of being fucking wrong.

  96. 96
    Catsy says:

    @EconWatcher: Scowcroftian is the word I would use. But I don’t know that they’re really represented at all these days. They may be all but extinct.

  97. 97
    burnspbesq says:

    @Jay B.:

    And really, I WOULD like interesting opposition voices.

    Sully, Larison, Bruce Bartlett, and very occasionally Reihan Salaam.

  98. 98
    Batocchio says:

    I like those divisions. And yes, Paul Ryan is a zealot and a hack – not to mention a guy who loves both Atlas Shrugged and Liberal Fascism. It’s sad and frightening that passes for being an “intellectual” on the right these days.

  99. 99
    brantl says:

    I think of them as “hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil”. The “hear no evil”s are the conservatives who never listen to what our policies have had as bad effects (think deregulation is going to make the markets just explode in growth, and then the markets explode, leaving a smoking ruin), the “speak no evil”s are the guys who have found ways of trying to put conservative values that don’t sound selfish and mean-spirited (“welfare” just makes things worse!”, etc.) “see no evil”s are the clowns that keep telling you how the failures of their philosophy mean that they just didn’t pursue them hard enough (“We may fail conservative values, but conservative values can’t fail us!”). The advantage to this labelling system is you can be several, or all three at once, as the conservatives often are.

  100. 100
    Robert Waldmann says:

    ““Chronicles Of Narnia” … other Catholic conservatives.

    Narnia = first class snark (but fair and balanced for all I know) but where did this word “Catholic” come from ? You assert that conservative intellectuals whose conservatism is based on religion are Catholic. Is this really true ? Most religious conservatives in the USA are Protestant. Have they failed to produce anything worth reading ?

    I really honestly don’t know the answer. I don’t know peoples’ denominations and can’t always tell which arguments are based on religion. So I am confessing my ignorance when I note that I can’t think of any examples.

    OK back to Douthat. His three spheres are very odd. The Conservative intellectuals all seem to live off of wingnut welfare. He lists institutions that are funded by rich conservatives and dedicated to conservatism. He doesn’t seem to think of Robert Lucas, Ed Prescott, Richard Posner, Alan Greenspan or James Q Wilson. This certainly is, uhm, rhetorically odd, given that his main claim is that “I think the intellectual right doesn’t have nearly as much of a close-mindedness problem as many people seem to think.”

    I mean really, if they are so open minded then why do they all work at exclusively conservative (except for Norman Ornstein) places ? Does Douthat think that Conservatives are excluded from every intellectual institution which isn’t explicitly conservative ? Note my list which proves that isn’t so. I don’t think he could have made a stronger case for Conservative closed mindedness.

  101. 101
    elm says:

    Honestly, I’d prefer for people to read Douthat than Manzi. Not because Douthat’s arguments are better formed, more skilled, or more in touch with reality but because Manzi’s pieces are similarly biased and incorrect — but they are more prettily argued and thus more likely to convince (read: to mislead).

    I have, on occasion, enjoyed dismantling Manzi’s pieces. Occasionally in public, mostly in private. They’re finely-crafted justifications made of only the best hand-picked data and carefully-considered misrepresentations of the facts. Following his rhetorical gymnastics can be exhilarating, but ultimately you know he’ll conclude that lazzaiz faire policies are, as we all know, the best possible so there’s no need to change anything.

    The notion of empirically-driven rightwing thought is not without appeal. That would tend to shift the argument to facts, but the facts are, at best, only weakly supportive of their ideology. As such, Manzi’s writing cannot be simultaneously empirical and ideologically pure. This refusal to change ideology in the face of facts (preferring to expel the heretics) is the essence of the closed conservative mind.

  102. 102

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