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:
- “Atlas Shrugged” conservatives: Megan McArdle, the Reasonoids, Larry Kudlow, etc.
- “Chronicles Of Narnia” conservatives: Ross Douthat, Peggy Noonan, many other Catholic conservatives.
- “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.