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.