Galt’s graduate program

One interesting side skirmish in the Global War Against Jim Manzi was a strange argument between Jonah Goldberg and Conor Friedesdorf about whether the epistemic closure argument was started by conservative malcontents who lacked the talent and drive to make it in the competitive world of National Review/Weekly Standard journalism. I can’t recommend reading any of what they had to say because Conor Friedersdorf is long-winded and mealy-mouthed and Jonah Goldberg is, well, Jonah Goldberg. But I can recommend this Julian Sanchez piece (via) on what it takes to make it as a member of the wingerati:

If you’re willing to toe a straight party line, on the other hand, let’s face it, you can be pretty damn mediocre and still carve out a nice little niche for yourself at any one of a welter of generously funded ideological publications and think tanks. Sure, it’s a smaller pond, but you get to be a relatively big fish. You’ll always have a book deal waiting at Regnery, a warm guest chair on Fox, editors at NR and the Weekly Standard eager to look at your pitches, handsome honoraria on your speaking tour of College Republican groups, and in your golden years, an undemanding sinecure as the Senior Olin Fellow at the Institute for Real ‘Murriken Studies.

Well, that’s certainly what I’ve always thought, but it’s good to hear it confirmed from someone who’s actually worked at Cato and Reason.

For some reason, this put me in mind of Bobo’s great “why don’t universities hire more Straussians” cri-de-coeur:

If it were my kid, I’d say go to graduate school — read the books you want to read. Then go to Washington, where you won’t feel embattled because you’ll exchange ideas with liberals and others in a more intellectually diverse setting. You’ll probably end up doing more good.

Last week the professors at Harvard’s government department reviewed the placement records of last year’s doctoral students. Two had not been able to find academic jobs, both of them Mansfield’s students. ”Well,” Mansfield quipped, ”I guess they’ll have to go to Washington and run the country.”

All in all, one more reason for conservative epistemic closure. A wingnut-fluffer with the right kind of a PhD can have a pretty damn cushy life if they stay on the straight-and-narrow.

51 replies
  1. 1
    aimai says:

    Sanchez’s piece is the very definition of an “the emperor has no clothes” kind of moment. I mean, yeah, sure–we all already knew that for a god damned fact. It needed no store bought twinkie to jump from the snack foods aisles and lecture me about the evils of intellectual fast food. That aside its hard out there for an actual intellectual with graduate student credentials. There are really very few jobs. There were years when there would be one open position in history. And don’t get me started on Anthropology. As for Harvey Mansfield’s students anyone who’d stay on and work with that asshole ought to have just what it takes to move smoothly into the halls of AEI. I’d be surprised if they’d stoop to take an actual job.

    aimai

  2. 2
    Citizen_X says:

    the competitive world of National Review/Weekly Standard journalism.

    Now that’s comedy.

  3. 3

    @Citizen_X:

    Now that’s comedy.

    I’d say it’s fiction.

  4. 4
    HE Pennypacker, Wealthy Industrialist says:

    Wingnut welfare. Must be great pulling shit out of your ass and packaging it as food for thought.

  5. 5
    KG says:

    I honestly doubt that the point of all of this will gain much traction among the wingosphere. I wish it would, because I really would like to see the conservative movement severed from the confederate movement. But it’s not going to happen anytime soon.

    I had a talk recently with a friend of mine from law school, from the sounds of it, he gets most of his news from Dennis Prager’s radio show. He had no idea that HCR was basically what the GOP suggested in 1993. I had to explain to him that bipartisanship requires a member of the minority actually voting for what the majority decided to do (usually through the concession of adding or deleting a provision of the bill), and that the GOP was given the chance to weigh in. And that HCR was talked about for three years, that every Democrat ran on health care reform, that McCain even had a proposal, that it was debated in Congress for months. He’s also under the impression that the GOP is going to win big this year, and I told him that there’s little chance that the GOP would win the House and that it’s pretty much mathematically impossible for them to win the Senate.

    He’s one of my more reasonable friends. I still have a few friends deep in the movement (Federalist Society types). Some of them actually think Obama doesn’t care if he wins or loses in 2012. Others are convinced that Obama has no chance in 2012 because of HCR. They talk about a rapid slide into socialism, and all the other stuff in a “very serious manner” as if that’s what is actually happening. The disconnect from reality is really kind of appalling. It’s reaching the level of “I don’t know anyone that voted for Nixon.” I’ve gotten to the point that I don’t even try to engage them anymore

  6. 6
    Comrade Luke says:

    You cut off that excerpt too soon. The very next sentence:

    (Ask yourself whether, absent these venues, you would ever have heard the name “Michelle Malkin.” And cross apply all of the above, mutatis mutandis, on the left, of course.)

    You see, the right and left – they’re the same.

  7. 7
    Tyro says:

    I believe that Brooks and Goldberg get roundly mocked for their constant “the academy is prejudiced against conservatives!” After all, it’s not just humanities– sciences and engineering faculties are overwhelmingly liberal as well. Why? Well, conservatism as a philosophy, which encourages hostility towards teachers and to learning and socially rewards financial success over intellectual successes, is inconducive to academic life: most conservatives won’t be attracted to it in the first place, even if you start out conservative, you can’t reconcile the Republican value system with the academic one. At best, Republicans are left with some conservative Roman Catholic philosophers and medievalist and economists who can be called upon to justify tax cuts when the political opportunity presents itself.

    The rest can simply bypass the PhD process and jump on the wingnut welfare gravy train.

  8. 8

    So Doughbob basically makes up this notion that young conservative writers are all bitching constantly about the old guard NR establishment locking them out — despite a total lack of evidence that this is happening — then proceeds to righteously rip into these TOTALLY MADE-UP young complainers:

    So, forgive me if I don’t take too seriously the complaint that younger conservative intellectuals have been locked out by the old guard.

    L-to-the-fucking-O-L. Forgive me if I also don’t take too seriously a complaint that Jonah invented out of whole cloth just so he could object to it.

  9. 9
    The Main Gauche of Mild Reason says:

    @Tyro:

    It’s simpler than that. Republicans value monetary remuneration over all other forms (prestige, notoriety, self-actualization, etc). Professorships are notoriously light on the monetary end. When was the last time you heard of a conservative that worked in an underpaying job because he found it “rewarding”?

  10. 10

    @Tyro:
    Or they could work at Bob Jones, Liberty, Regent, or Patrick Henry or a number of other private close-minded schools that they would deem beneath their paygrade.

    ETA: and yet John Fucking Yoo has a job at Texas Tech.

  11. 11
    Nylund says:

    So if I call a conservative supreme court justice a “goat F***ing child molester” and get people to mail rock salt to a GOP congressman, I’m going to get a job on Fox News as a political commentator right? Or wait…not that easy for non-wingnuts is it?

  12. 12
    Yutsano says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    ETA: and yet John Fucking Yoo has a job at Texas Tech.

    Dear fucking God I wish, but no. John Yoo is a law professor at Cal Berkeley of all places. What the fuck they were thinking hiring him there is beyond me. IIRC he doesn’t have a lecture course. Gonzo got hired at Texas Tech though.

  13. 13

    @Yutsano:
    Thanks for the correction. I got my war criminals mixed up there. From what I’ve heard, Gonzo teaches one course a semester at TTU, and makes off with over 100 grand for the privilege.

  14. 14
    Mike says:

    The arguments about liberalism in the media and academia ignore the fact that the pool of relatively smart conservatives seeking such positions is damn small.

    Around 98 percent of my smart conservative friends have sought salary-maximizing careers, and about half my smart liberal friends have done so. I don’t say this as a judgment. And I didn’t go to an Ivy League school. Maybe there are scores of young Douthats in those mahogany-paneled lecture halls who read Burke and Hayek in high school. But I doubt it.

    A small percentage of elite positions aside, neither journalism nor academia offer great monetary rewards.

  15. 15
    Mark S. says:

    @D. Aristophanes:

    I wonder if any of these younger conservative intellectuals ever bitch about all of the nepotism that goes on at NR and the Weekly Standard.

  16. 16
    MobiusKlein says:

    @Yutsano: They hired John Yoo before he was with Shrub, I think. He went back to a job he had, IIRC.

  17. 17
    Waingro says:

    I can’t recommend reading any of what they had to say because Conor Friedersdorf is long-winded and mealy-mouthed

    Good lord, is he ever. I made the mistake of trying to read his ‘criticism’ of Glenn Reynolds and Friedersdorf seemed to think he was critiquing Lionel fucking Trilling or Isaiah Berlin instead of some asswipe whose catchphrase is “Heh. Indeed.”

    The boy needs to study some classic Gore Vidal essays to grasp the art of the scathing, yet substantive takedown.

  18. 18

    @MobiusKlein: Except they didn’t have to give it back to him.

  19. 19
    Yutsano says:

    @MobiusKlein: You could be right on that point. I’m sure it’s covered on his Wiki page but I don’t want to dignify him with the page view. I know this much: if I was one of his students he’d be getting an earful out of me for the legal atrocities he unleashed on the US.

  20. 20

    @Mark S.: Who knows? As Friedersdorf points out boringly, Jonah doesn’t link to any of the complaints of these supposed legions of bitter young NRO wannabes. Maybe they exist, or maybe, like everybody else, they wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would have Jonah as a member.

  21. 21
    KG says:

    I had the chance recently to hear Yoo speak at a forum with Bob Barr (my “conservative” friends were shocked that Barr would actually care about things like due process). It was interesting to hear Yoo’s take on what makes a great president. The way he tells it, the great presidents are the ones that basically ignore the Constitution in times of crisis.

    All I could think, while he was talking, was how your values don’t mean much if you’re not willing to stick to them in times of crisis.

    I couldn’t bring myself to go talk to Yoo afterwards, the odds of me punching him were too high for a respectable lawyer. I did get to talk to Barr a bit though, good guy, he.

  22. 22
    Anne Laurie says:

    As I’ve said before, Lewis Lapham cannot be too highly recommended as a guide to the Modern American Courtier. From the reviews:

    This latest offering is a Swiftian self-help manual written for careerists, whom Lapham suggests are adept in the arts of deference and carry on the “courtier spirit” that Tocqueville found flourishing when he traveled America. After a long introductory essay, Lapham offers aphoristic observations on subjects such as resumes (“the most important of literary forms”), cliches (“make unsparing use of them”), grant proposals (“remember to employ the word `enhance'”), and tact (“the deft careerist tends to swallow insults as if they were oysters served on silver trays”).

    and

    The funniest thing about my copy of the book was that someone who had borrowed it from the library before me had not realized that Lapham had written his “Rules of Influence” as (sarcastic) advice for sycophants and brownnosers. This unsuspecting reader dutifully marked with an orange highlighter sentences like “the first impression is also the last impression, which is why it is important to always wear clean shoes,” or “seek out the acquaintance of people richer and more important than yourself and never take an interest in people who cannot do you any favors,” or “Money attaches itself to velocity. Never stay in one job for more than five years, and remember that the most important person is the first one to leave the room. None of the best people travel with luggage or conviction.”

  23. 23
    d.s. says:

    The reason is that the “conservative intelligentsia” has always been a Potemkin intelligentsia funded by angry right-wing billionaires to destroy liberalism.

    Back in the day, they did it by proposing “sensible” policies meant to dilute support for liberal policies, which conservatives never planned to actually pass. See the Heritage Foundation health proposals, the Dole-Chafee health bill, etc.

    When Democrats responded by taking them up on their ideas, they had a freakout. They couldn’t repeat their usual ploy about “Oh yeah, of course we support universal health care, but our proposal is so much better than yours.” They had to go out on the streets shrieking against death panels and expelling anyone from the movement that would admit that Obama’s plan was more Bob Dole than Joseph Stalin.

    A similar thing happened with environmental policies. Cap and trade (back then called tradable permits) was originally touted by conservatives as a more market friendly alternative to direct controls and emissions taxes. They claimed they supported it for years. But then once liberals and environmental groups started pushing for tradable permits (originally for sulfur dioxide), they responded with insane fury and claimed it would be a death of the economy and that liberals were going to put half the country out of work. Bush I only agreed to it because of a diplomatic spat with Canada over acid rain.

    So basically, yeah, on the surface the conservative movement was a lot more reality-based and productive in the past. But every time a liberal endorsed one of their ideas, they’d turn on a dime and claim that idea was a soc.ialist plot to destroy the country.

    Today they’re railing about death panels, endless bailouts, and economic destruction from cap and trade, rather than coming up with alternative proposals, but that’s actually more honest.

    Even our mainstream media can usually figure out that “endless bailouts” is bullshit, even if they’re still doing he-said, she-said journalism. But when they’re faced with seemingly reasonable proposals, they’re pretty easily duped.

  24. 24
    rootless-e says:

    Good God, Harvey Mansfield is a walking talking advertisement for “stupid people can get tenure at Harvard”.

    Between him, Dershowitz, and that evangelical chucklehead who said Bush was like Lincoln, there is enough stupid to bring down the average Harvard IQ by 20 points, at the least.

  25. 25
    srv says:

    Krauthammer on Inside Washington whining that Obama’s bill doesn’t go far enough and won’t break up the “too big to fail banks.”

  26. 26
    Cat Lady says:

    @Waingro:

    This.

    “Mealy mouthed” was invented to describe young Conor. How does one so young get to be such a wanker? He’s so fucking earnest with his wanking, too. Good grief. To his credit though he appears to be keeping one foot out of the epistemic enclosure. For now. Wingnut welfare is dark matter to the leaners, and young Conor is a good test case to see if he can resist.

  27. 27
    srv says:

    @Yutsano:

    IIRC he doesn’t have a lecture course.

    Pretty sure he does, I’ve heard from a variety of local sources that he’s popular with the students.

    In person, he talks a very pragmatic line. At a talk on Gitmo, the DFH’s yelled at him, but he simply made a case that existing law didn’t provide coverage for these types of combatants, and that was Congress’ fault. He’s 100% right about that, but then scurries to his office to ponder just how far you can twist someone’s balls before breaking the law.

    Cowards like Yoo exists because Congress as a whole is more cowardly and won’t do their job.

  28. 28
    BR says:

    OT – not being from WV, I would be interested in reading Cole’s reflections of today’s eulogy. Hope he’s planning on writing about it.

  29. 29
    srv says:

    McLaughlin group, “Democrat” Mort Zuckerman blames all the crises on Fannie Mae, Wall Street is the victim, Buchanan calls for an end of all financial derivatives.

  30. 30
    matoko_chan says:

    five days and counting since Manzigate broke on the wingosphere.
    not a peep from AllahP, Jeff Goldstein, Patterico, Ace, instapundit….the silence of the grave.

    Is that evidence of epistemic closure?
    pretend real hard and Manzigate will go away?

  31. 31
    Yutsano says:

    @srv:

    but he simply made a case that existing law didn’t provide coverage for these types of combatants, and that was Congress’ fault.

    The problem with what Yoo did is that rather than defer to precedent or let Congress define what to do with them before rendering an opinion, he just gave Bush & co carte blanche to do whatever they wanted including crossing lines clearly defined under national and international law. It really was a coward’s way of dealing with the situation rather than falling back to basic Constitutional standards and going from there when Congress bothered to catch up. Yoo is a failure because the brown people had no status under the law therefore they could never have any redress. The fact that he still stands by that opinion makes him one of the most unethical lawyers in this country.

  32. 32

    @srv: Did anyone tell McLaughlin that Zuckerman had contemplated running for Senate as a Republican just a month or so ago?

  33. 33

    Can we have a wingnut draft? Seriously, draft all of the Young conservatives, Friedersdorf, Chunky Bobo, Reihan Salam, every member of the Campus Conservatives and Young Republicans and ship their asses off to a nice basic training post like Fort Benning? Seriously, it’s time for these little fuckers to serve their country, and just think, 14 weeks of being chased around by a drill sergeant might give Chunky Bobo a jawline.

  34. 34
    TenguPhule says:

    Seriously, it’s time for these little fuckers to serve their country, and just think, 14 weeks of being chased around by a drill sergeant might give Chunky Bobo a jawline.

    Unpossible. That presumes muscles existing under the flab to begin with.

    The only way they could serve the country is as Iranian style Minefield Trippers. And even then the bad news is some of them would still survive.

  35. 35
    srv says:

    @Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle: Well, he’s always sitting on Eleanor’s side, and he’s one of those liberal blue-bloods. Used to be John leaned a bit left of right, but poor Eleanor has her hands full with an occassional hand from Pat.

  36. 36
    Donald G says:

    @srv:

    McLaughlin group, “Democrat” Mort Zuckerman blames all the crises on Fannie Mae, Wall Street is the victim, Buchanan calls for an end of all financial derivatives.

    Apropos of nothing in particular, my daughter, when she was a pre-schooler, used to refer to “the McLaughlin Group” as “The Yelling Show”.

    Out of the mouths of babes…

  37. 37
    TenguPhule says:

    , but he simply made a case that existing law didn’t provide coverage for these types of combatants, and that was Congress’ fault. He’s 100% right about that,

    Bull-fucking shit.

    The Geneva Conventions are clear as day on this.

    Torture under any fucking circumstances is a no-no.

    That Yoo has not been bitchslapped (literally) with this until he cries is a crime against Humanity.

  38. 38
    srv says:

    @Yutsano:

    defer to precedent or let Congress define what to do with them before rendering an opinion, he just gave Bush & co carte blanche to do whatever they wanted

    They call that leadership.

    The experiment is a failure if we’re still pondering Article II powers two centuries after the fact.

  39. 39
    srv says:

    @TenguPhule:

    The Geneva Conventions are clear as day on this.

    Your comment is as quaint as it is irrelevant. Just like Congress.

  40. 40
    Yutsano says:

    @TenguPhule: That was the big weasel: Yoo bent over backwards and twisted the law into beyond Gordian knots to make what the CIA and the military were doing anything but that nasty word torture. Hence all the euphemisms (enhanced interrogation techniques etc) that were out in place. Basically Yoo went with the theory that as long as he didn’t use THAT WORD he was giving the legal green light. Pisses me off more that the Holder justice department gave him little more than a slap on the wrist, but I’m thinking that was an institutional Bushie protecting his own there.

  41. 41

    @srv:

    Your comment is as quaint as it is irrelevant. Just like Congress.

    Sadly, no. Bart Stupak wants to have a word with you. As does Joe Lieberman, Kent Conrad, and the dickhead senators from Kentucky, Oklahoma, etc.

  42. 42
    matoko_chan says:

    @Wile E. Quixote: they had their own place…..called Culture 11…where there was actual intellectual disscussion of policy and ideology….
    It winked out of existence the day Big Hollywood came on line.
    The bourgie conservatives were scattered to the winds and forced to scrounge for crumbs from the wingnut welfare table.
    One would think they’d be bitter.
    The truth is the conservative base is wholly below the mean of IQ…..no one in the base could understand them.

  43. 43
    Comrade Kevin says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    Except they didn’t have to give it back to him.

    He has full tenure, so, yes, they did.

  44. 44
    briber says:

    @srv: What I find to be jaw dropping is that Pat Buchanan used to be the “way-out-there” guy in the room. Now he’s the reasonable sounding guy.

    I mean, how far do you have to run into the right-wingnut-wilderness in order to leave Pat Fucking Buchanan in your dust?

  45. 45
    DougJ says:

    @Donald G:

    She has a future as a blogger. If it’s right to call that “a future”.

  46. 46
    robertdsc says:

    and Jonah Goldberg is, well, Jonah Goldberg.

    Priceless.

  47. 47
    Graeme says:

    I love that Jonah Goldberg is talking about competition. How priceless.

    I’m Gen X, and everyone I know who is still a Republican said ‘Thanks, Dad’ for their job, but they want to lecture me about competition. What a fucking joke.

    What they really want is to be sure there’s no ‘death tax.’ So help me, I’ve had enough & I’m going to be much more aggressive in calling them out on it.

    Culture 11 was a joke, BTW. If that’s the best the young intellectuals can do, the ‘conservatives’ are in dire straits, and I say that as someone uncomfortable voting Donkey.

  48. 48

    @Comrade Kevin:

    He has full tenure, so, yes, they did.

    WTH? Damn, that’s one fine tenure system they’ve got there. You can quit your job for another one and come back at any time. Sheesh.

  49. 49
    Comrade Kevin says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: He didn’t “quit”. He went on a “leave of absence”.

    Full professors are usually allowed to do that kind of thing, especially if it’s with a presidential administration.

  50. 50
    matoko_chan says:

    @Graeme:

    Culture 11 was a joke, BTW. If that’s the best the young intellectuals can do, the ‘conservatives’ are in dire straits

    no one is denying that lol….
    still there are some great comments on the threads.
    Poor Conor.

    You are wrong, Conor, and just won’t admit it. Jonah has masterfully destroyed the arguments of all the jealous young conservative intellectuals that exist in his mind.
    D. Aristophanes · Apr 25, 08:21 PM · #

  51. 51
    prufrock says:

    but he simply made a case that existing law didn’t provide coverage for these types of combatants, and that was Congress’ fault. He’s 100% right about that,

    That logic sounds an awful lot like this:

    beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.

    And we all know how respected Roger Taney is by history.

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