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Turning Right [Norm Podhoretz, NeoConservatism and Commentary Magazine]
The New York Times ^ | July 30, 2010 | Damon Linker

Posted on 07/30/2010 9:29:58 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet

Over the past decade, “neocon” has become an all-purpose term of abuse among critics of the right. Yet few of these critics appear to realize that from the beginning there have been two very different branches of neoconservative thinking. The first aimed to bring sober, dispassionate analysis and a skeptical temper to questions of domestic policy; the second specialized in devising cogent, often highly polemical arguments in favor of a militarily aggressive foreign policy.

The first exercised its greatest political influence during the 1990s with Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani’s crime-fighting policies and the 1996 Welfare Reform Act. The second peaked in the years immediately after 9/11, when the administration of George W. Bush pursued a doctrine of unilateral pre-emptive war and set out to transform Islamic civilization at gunpoint. When critics denounce neocons, they rarely mean the first branch, which today is largely extinct. Instead, they mean the ideas and outlook associated with the second branch. That ultimately means the ideas and outlook of Norman Podhoretz and Commentary magazine, which he edited from 1960 to 1995.

Thomas L. Jeffers’s exhaustive but frustratingly uncritical biography, “Norman Podhoretz,” is most engaging in its early chapters, telling the story of how this brilliant and ambitious child of Jewish immigrants from Galicia rose from poverty in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn to become first, the star student of the great literary critic Lionel Trilling at Columbia University and then, at the age of 30, the editor of Commentary, the magazine of the American Jewish Committee and one of the two leading journals (along with Partisan Review) of the legendary New York Intellectuals.

(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...


TOPICS: Books/Literature; Military/Veterans; Politics; Society
KEYWORDS: bookreview; bush; neocons; normpodhoretz; podhoretz; reagan

1 posted on 07/30/2010 9:30:03 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
George W. Bush pursued a doctrine of unilateral pre-emptive war and set out to transform Islamic civilization at gunpoint.

Stupid Liberal should go to Iran and see how they treat him.

2 posted on 07/30/2010 9:43:31 PM PDT by wastedyears (The Founders revolted for less.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
I see Damon Linker is still as insufferable as ever. And, as a devout atheist, he goes out of his way to describe Podhoretz's spiritual awakening, in the most mocking yet veiled way possible; With a wink a nod to the snooty NY Times constituency, he's saying the real reason Podhoretz "turned right", wasn't born from intellectual clarity (or heaven forbid, a lurch to the extreme left by his fellow intellectuals), but because he got religion. The contempt drips from Linker's piece.

Liberals hate neocons even more than conservatives not because of ideology, but because the liberal intelligentsia knows that they can't intellectually dismiss or even counter the persuasive quality of (many) the neoconservative argument. Linker is trying his best to assuage the fears of his readers by dismissing Podheretz as just another irrational "religionist". It doesn't matter what religion Podehertz may be, in Linker's opinion they're all bad and need to met with fierce disdain.

3 posted on 07/30/2010 10:00:39 PM PDT by OldDeckHand
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To: OldDeckHand
intellectual clarity

These people have become the crazy village idiots who walk around patting themselves on the back and reassuring each other that they are geniuses. Shhhhhh. Don't spoil the fun!

4 posted on 07/31/2010 12:49:26 AM PDT by April Lexington (Study the constitution so you know what they are taking away!)
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To: OldDeckHand
A very good reply yours and one which deserves reflection.

I had intended to begin my reply with the following quotation from the article until I read your reply:

Beginning with his vision in the woods, Podhoretz would devote his life to standing up for himself as a Jew and as an American against an ever lengthening list of those he deemed to be mortal enemies.

I am not as informed about the author of the piece, Damon Linker, as you obviously are but I was wary as I read the piece simply because it was being borne by the New York Times. Finally, at the foot of the article I found this note from the New York Times which would deepen any conservative's suspicions:

Damon Linker teaches writing at the University of Pennsylvania. His new book, “The Religious Test: Why We Must Question the Beliefs of Our Leaders,” will be published in the fall.

To return to the Epiphany in the woods, my reaction, contrary to Damon Linker's, was to pray that Christians with epiphanies would be so moved to advance our people, our religion and our culture.

We have had a president and a would-be president who have both had epiphanies. George Bush had an epiphany which fortunately enabled him to achieve sobriety but did not otherwise put him on a crusade except after 9/11. In fact, I would argue that his Christian consciousness vitiated the kind of political kill instinct necessary in a successful president. I believe that Bush saw his role as president from his Christian perspective but it was limited to the defense of the Republic from Islamic attack. To that end he bent his moral energy and the power of his administration. But there was no energy for party politics.

John McCain had an epiphany of sorts on the floor of his cell in the Hanoi Hilton when he came to his breaking point and resolved to dedicate his life, if he survived, the service of his country. Again, there was no particular focus which might have given John McCain's subsequent career the kind of thrust of which conservatives would have approved and of which history might have taken note.

Norman Podhoretz' epiphany was certainly radical having enabled the man to turn away from a support structure absolutely entwined in the establishment of the Manhattan culture. It was durable enough to last a lifetime. It was energetic enough to have changed the history of the nation. As a paleo- conservative with pesky libertarian tendencies which erupt without warning from time to time, I have many reservations about the neoconservative doctrines which led to our crusades and nationbuilding; but I was not so perceptive immediately after 9/11.

Which conservative of whatever stripe was?


5 posted on 07/31/2010 1:14:06 AM PDT by nathanbedford ("Attack, repeat, attack!" Bull Halsey)
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