Skin In the Game: A Conservative Chronicle

The twentieth century, concretized

My office in New York is right around the corner from Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, so on the day of William F. Buckley’s memorial I was able to run over just in time for the service. The enormous church was filled to capacity; every seat was taken. I was lucky to find space on one of the benches to the right of the vast central nave. Christopher Hitchens, arriving directly from the airport, came huffing and sweating down the aisle, stopped to greet me distractedly, and hurried on. The great atheist, come to bow his head in reverence like the rest of Bill’s admirers.

Although I couldn’t see them from where I sat, I knew that scattered through the audience were many old friends from the conservative movement. Being an editor, however, I thought of them not as people but as books. Some were books that I had published, others books I hoped to publish in the future. The concentration of authors was so dense, I felt like an Alaskan grizzly at the foot of a waterfall, poised to pull out salmon by the paw-full.

I didn’t know Bill Buckley well, but I had worked for him some years ago when I was literary editor of National Review. Although actually to say that I worked for him is something of an exaggeration. Buckley was officially retired by this time and no longer came in to the office. But his spirit hovered over and imbued the place, and it was still very much “his” magazine. I learned this right away, when he invited me to dinner at the luxurious duplex on East 73rd Street known as the “maisonette,” where the Buckleys entertained their friends and colleagues.

As I entered the foyer, Bill greeted me with jovial warmth, like the captain of a cruise ship welcoming passengers on board. I shook hands with his other guests and moved into the salon crowded with gilded chairs and sofas. Shortly afterward Mrs. Buckley came down, descending stiffly in a sheath of Chinese silk, heavily made up, with her hair in an elaborate coif. Bill introduced me as NR’s new book review editor. “Ah yes,” she said languidly, extending her gloved hand with an oft-used phrase of greeting. “Welcome to the National Review.”

We moved into the dining room. Buckley seated me in a place of honor to his right. As I unfolded my cloth napkin, servants hurried out and poured wine in every glass.

Bill leaned over in his chair and whispered in a kindly, solicitous tone, “How is your father?”

It was not an idle question. Rather he was graciously acknowledging my status as the son of a famous writer—a man of distinction equal to his own.

“Not well,” I confided, also in a whisper.

He nodded wordlessly and gazed at me with sympathetic eyes. I felt his warmth flow toward me and suddenly understood why so many young men had looked up to and revered him as a father over the years.

Still, I knew that I would never be one of his sons. My mentors were Jewish neoconservatives who argued with each other in the kitchen over bagels and lox, spiritual exiles from the Upper West Side, not wealthy Connecticut Catholics who dressed for dinner and were attended by liveried servants. I was a visitor from this other conservative tribe, more an honored guest than a new member of the NR family.

As the meal progressed, Buckley continued to favor me with his attention, and after the dishes were cleared, over coffee and dessert, the seminar began. Bill cleared his throat and posed a question for discussion. Illegal immigration? Late-term abortion? Bilingual education? I can’t remember what it was, but I do know that it was a topic concerning which I had no particular knowledge and possessed no clear or interesting opinion. When I was asked to put in my two cents, I made a bland comment calculated to kick the ball down the field. Nonetheless it was a privilege to observe the Buckleys engaging their guests and drawing them out with such a smooth and practiced grace.

A few years later, I ran into Bill at the Park Avenue home of a wealthy Republican contributor and drew him aside for a chat, regaling him with publishing stories that I knew would entertain him. My father had since passed away, so I valued all the more this opportunity to deploy my highly polished courtier’s skills. I knew well how to charm a distinguished old coot of his vintage. I had him in stitches, bent over laughing, his pale blue eyes bright with amusement.

Now as I sat in the pews of St. Patrick’s, with the dignified tones of the Catholic mass echoing through the vast stone structure, I felt unaccountably orphaned. I hadn’t expected to take Bill’s death so much to heart. Moreover, like many others in the audience, I couldn’t help reflecting on the crossroads to which we had come.

The movement Buckley launched four decades ago was in profound disarray. Conservatives, by general agreement, faced a looming political rout and, even worse, an intellectual collapse. The “movement of ideas” I had joined (or into which I had been drafted) in the 1980s had decayed into a hash of meaningless slogans and sound bites.

In particular, I mused on how thoroughly Bill’s refined patrician spirit had, during his lifetime, pervaded the conservative enterprise. Wasn’t it remarkable, I thought, how one man was able to infuse an entire movement with his own high intellectual standards and his tone of unfailing civility.

That tone has been notably lacking in our recent political arguments. Even many on our side have been uneasy with what is widely considered the “coarsening” of the conservative movement. Who would maintain Buckley’s standard, now that the conservative elders were passing away?

In twenty years of publishing on the front lines of the culture war, I had rarely stopped to ask myself this question. But it had much concerned me lately—ever since my little spat with Andrew Sullivan.

While there are numerous vantage points from which to follow the ebb and flow of intellectual movements, my position in the New York publishing world has given me a privileged front-row seat on the ups and downs of modern conservatism. These fluctuations can in turn be viewed (if one is so inclined) as a barometer of the health of conservatism more broadly. Lately, the prognosis has been grim.

Back in September 2006, Timothy Noah of Slate posted a snarky little item about a pair of forthcoming books in the Doubleday catalog. Both had been written by prominent younger conservatives, and both were cited as evidence of the “Coulterization” of the right, by which he meant that these formerly serious conservatives had been tempted, drawn, or pushed by various forces to the level of Ann Coulter’s shrill, obnoxious partisan screeds. The conservative movement that once boasted such lights as Irving Kristol and Bill Buckley had been dumbed down, coarsened, reduced to the level of crude propaganda. The “respectable right” was no more.

Exhibit A was Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism, then subtitled “The Totalitarian Temptation from Mussolini to Hillary Clinton.” The shiny red jacket featured a yellow smiley face with a Hitler mustache. Exhibit B was Dinesh D’Souza’s The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11. Both were subjected to withering scorn by Mr. Noah. He also linked to an earlier blast against D’Souza by Vanity Fair columnist and blogger James Wolcott, whose fair and balanced headline was, “Ratfink Writes New Book.”

A typical Slate reader might have glanced over this brief item, grunted in assent, and moved on with his prejudices satisfyingly confirmed. But since both of these were books that I had edited for Doubleday, I paid close attention to Noah’s attack and carefully weighed its significance.

On the one hand, it was a favorable sign—an indication that we had in fact done something right. That’s the way the culture war traditionally works in my experience. If liberals think a book is manifestly bad, in deplorable taste, unworthy of serious discussion, conservatives are bound to think there must be something to it. Angry attacks by liberal journalists alert the book’s intended audience that the author has hit a nerve, threatening the intellectual foundations of liberalism itself. Bestseller sales are sure to follow.

Then again, no one likes to be criticized or held up to ridicule, and as I read Noah’s article I felt a certain familiar queasiness come over me. Was he right? Had I missed some obvious flaw in these two books? Was I too close to see their fatal defects?

Such questions are bound to preoccupy the most determined culture warrior, especially one who operates from the heart of enemy territory. But I wasn’t unduly alarmed. This always happens when you publish a controversial book. One side says it is a brave and brilliant masterpiece, the other that it is worse than Mein Kampf. In the end, the controversy itself, not the argument, becomes the book’s essential raison d’etre, providing a kind of X-ray or intellectual Rorschach of the state of debate on both sides.

Needless to say, this whole dynamic runs counter to the expectations of most publishers. Which is why, in a series of jobs going back two decades, I have found that I must slowly and respectfully train my colleagues to understand that in the looking-glass world of the culture war, Bad is really Good. It is also why the worst thing that can happen when you publish a book of this kind is—nothing at all. When this occurs, I mentally update the old 1960s antiwar slogan: “What if they gave a culture war and nobody came?”

All of which goes to explain why, far from being disturbed by Noah’s attack—at least in my professional capacity—I chortled with delight, rubbing my hands together in demented glee like Dr. Evil. Everything was going precisely according to plan.

Then Andrew Sullivan threw a wrench in my gears by linking approvingly to Noah’s piece on his popular blog.

Andrew and I weren’t friends, exactly, but we did have a cordial professional relationship going back more than a decade. In 1994, when The Free Press had published The Bell Curve, Andrew—then editor of The New Republic—put his reputation on the line by printing a major excerpt in the face of an all-out revolt by his writers and staff. I was immensely grateful for this act of editorial courage.

So when I wrote him a jocular note about the Noah piece, saying I was sure that as a serious critic he would undoubtedly prefer to read a book before passing judgment on its contents, I was surprised to receive in reply a stinging rebuke.

I am not able to quote from this exchange, but it was a proper scalding, the gist of which was that the covers of these particular books were more than enough to judge by. What’s more, he went on, if even I had stooped to this level, there was no hope left for the conservative intellectual movement.

It was quite true that the national debate had grown coarser and more polarized during the Bush years. Noah was correct—the rise of right-wing media, coupled with a bitterly contested presidential election, a terrorist attack, and an unpopular war, had vulgarized conservative argumentation.

Yet I bridled at Andrew’s suggestion that I was somehow responsible for this. Who had appointed me the custodian of intellectual standards on the right? I wasn’t sitting in some think tank cogitating policy initiatives for the GOP. I was a commercial book editor, and I did what I had to do to remain competitive in a highly challenging environment. I couldn’t afford to be squeamish.

Moreover, why the double standard? I didn’t hear Andrew attacking the editor of Michael Moore’s atrocious books, or Noam Chomsky’s editor, or the editors of the recent hysterical volumes by Chris Hedges and Naomi Wolf warning that we are in the midst of a fascist takeover. Far from being denounced by Tim Noah as crassly partisan, exploitative, incendiary, or dangerously reactionary, these books were prominently featured in the window of my neighborhood Barnes & Noble.

In the end, though, I made no response to Andrew, having thought better of the impulse to pick a fight with a man who has his own blog and an audience of thousands. Besides, I had to admit the irritating grain of truth in his attack. I wasn’t just a helpless cog in a vast media machine but an experienced editor who occupied an enviable perch in the New York publishing establishment. Did I really bear no responsibility for the books I chose to publish or for the tone of the ensuing disputes?

I therefore owed it to myself (if not to Sullivan) to reflect a bit more seriously on my role in the machinery of national political debate.

In an alcove across the street from my office, hidden away amid some trees and benches, stands a chunk of the Berlin Wall—five massive concrete slabs about twelve feet tall and twenty feet across. One side is colorfully adorned with graffiti and whimsical cartoons, while the other—visible only if you crane your neck around it—remains utterly grey and forbidding. Clearly no one on the East German side of the wall would have dared to approach it, with or without a can of spray paint.

This visual contrast offers a pretty good summary of what was at stake in the Cold War, what the political and moral confrontation between East and West was all about. It also stands as a reminder of how much things have changed in the publishing business, and in the broader world of ideas, since I came into it in 1988—a moment when the seriousness of the times produced a corresponding seriousness of conservative thought.

When I started working at The Free Press— a venerable social science publisher then being taken in a new direction by its neoconservative chief editor—the Cold War was still at its height. American intellectual life was entirely defined by the superpower conflict, a conflict embodied—literally concretized—in the Berlin Wall. It formed the stable backdrop against which publishing decisions were made. Nothing could be done that did not somehow relate to it.

Thus, when the manuscript of Robert Kaplan’s Balkan Ghosts came around—a beautifully written travelogue about what was then a forgotten corner of Europe—we shortsightedly rejected it. Instead, my early projects included a book about the so-called Doctors’ Plot, a trumped-up conspiracy that excused Stalin’s purge of Jewish party members, and Harvey Mansfield’s Taming the Prince, a Straussian study of executive power.

These books reflected not just my own concerns and interests but those of my boss, Erwin Glikes, a brilliant and irascible editor who had hired me with no prior experience, purely on the strength of my pedigree. Erwin was a German Jewish émigré and liberal anti-Communist who, like other early neocons, moved to the right in 1968. Irving Kristol brought him into publishing at Basic Books before himself going on to launch the neoconservative movement. It was Irving who had sent me to see him when, at 30, unemployed, with a wife and new baby at home, I had asked him to find me a job.

As a student of Allan Bloom, I was greatly impressed that Erwin had signed The Closing of the American Mind at Simon & Schuster. It was this book—or rather the over-the-top reaction to it—that had finally moved me into the conservative camp. In our interview, Erwin explained his generational theory of publishing: he would continue to publish older conservatives like George Will and Wall Street Journal editor Bob Bartley. I was to find and publish the best of the younger conservatives.

When the Berlin Wall came down in November 1989, a sudden awareness arose that we were in a new ideological space. For those of us who had grown up in the Wall’s shadow, this was an exhilarating moment. But it was also one of great uncertainty. Was there intellectual life beyond the Cold War? Publishers were momentarily directionless, as though the very constellations had winked out.

One of the first books to “name” the new space was Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History, which Erwin grabbed and published in a lightning move after Fukuyama’s article of the same name made headlines around the world. His unlikely bestseller demonstrated the hunger for ideas in the post-Cold War age. The question was, how should publishers feed this new hunger?

We didn’t have to wait long for the answer. Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in August 1990 was a deliberate testing of the new unipolar global order. It was also a godsend for publishers able to get out serious books about Iraq and the Middle East quickly enough. The public appetite for knowledge of the region was insatiable.

Immediately after this, a genocidal war broke out in Serbia and Kaplan’s Balkan Ghosts became a belated bestseller, followed by a slew of other books about the conflict. The downside was that no book could be effectively publicized that was not somehow related to these transient obsessions.

This was a clue to the essential character of the new publishing environment. In place of the Cold War with its fixed ideological certainties, we were to have a series of protracted media events of varying duration and significance. Metaphorically speaking, the Berlin Wall had been replaced by the Jersey Turnpike—an eight-lane superhighway filled with trucks zooming past in both directions, variously labeled “Gulf War,” “Bosnia,” “O.J. Simpson,” “Princess Di,” “Titanic,” with no particular distinction made between them. For in the postmodern world, all media events are created equal.

In the 1990s, the attention of Americans turned inward. The passions of the Cold War came home and domestic debates about culture and politics heated up in earnest. Though I strove to maintain the intellectual standards of the Cold War while adapting to the very different environment of the culture war, it proved to be a difficult task.

One of the first fronts in that war was the American university, where a number of related issues—affirmative action, multiculturalism, speech codes, and political correctness—converged to create a perfect storm of controversy. My first bestseller, Dinesh D’Souza’s Illiberal Education: The Politics of Race and Sex on Campus (1991), was fortuitously timed to tap into these debates. D’Souza struck precisely the right note for the new conservative journalism: he made an outrageously provocative argument but backed it up with solid research and wrote in a restrained and moderate tone.

David Brock’s The Real Anita Hill (1993) was an even bolder intervention in the national debate, exposing the unethical machinations of liberal interest groups in their no-holds-barred attempt to keep Clarence Thomas off the Supreme Court, while carefully drawing no conclusion as to whether Anita Hill “lied” in her congressional testimony.

I had by now become a seasoned culture warrior, used to being attacked (in print and in person) for publishing quote-unquote “bad” books. That is what it meant to have skin in the game. Other editors were essentially aesthetes whose judgments rested on conventional moral opinion. I was a mad scientist, recklessly mixing unstable elements in a test tube to see what kind of explosion I could get.

That didn’t mean I operated without any standards at all in some kind of ethical gravity-free zone. My strategy was to publish a thoughtful and substantive book, titled and packaged in a way that pushed emotional buttons on both sides. That way you triggered the kneejerk response of the liberal media, unleashing a national firestorm; but when conservatives opened the book they found that it was in fact an intellectually serious effort.

The Bell Curve was the ultimate exemplar of this type—really, the apotheosis of a genre of social-science-based advocacy journalism pioneered by Irving Kristol at Public Interest magazine. Its argument outraged liberal opinion, yet because it did so in a careful, plodding, scientific way backed up with hundreds of footnotes, the mainstream media had to engage the book rather than simply ignoring it.

Books on race and gender continued to dominate culture war publishing for the remainder of the decade. But the longest-running soap opera of those years, and by far the most profitable for publishers, was undoubtedly the saga of the Clintons.

I was never really able to understand the visceral hatred of the Clintons that had gripped the conservative movement. Perhaps The American Spectator’s Bob Tyrrell put it best when he described it as a civil war within the baby boom. Whatever the cause, this was the period when a real mass market emerged for conservative books. Regnery, formerly a sleepy DC-based conservative publisher, took the lead in its development, publishing salacious tell-alls about the Clinton White House, and forging in the process a reliable system of distribution and promotion via conservative talk radio.

Somewhat snobbishly, I suppose, we at The Free Press had always considered ourselves Regnery’s opposite number. They published red meat for the yahoos; we were purveyors of serious books by thoughtful conservatives. But we were not above using the same methods to promote our wares. Thus, whereas we had relied on the Wall Street Journal and the likes of columnist George Will to make Illiberal Education a bestseller, it was Rush Limbaugh who had put David Brock over the top.

As the decade progressed, scandal after scandal generated bestsellers on the tabloid Regnery model. The publishing turnpike hummed with 18-wheelers labeled “Whitewater,” “Vince Foster,” “Monica Lewinsky.” Quite a comedown from the more serious books by Bloom, Fukuyama, and Murray, which were distinguished by the power of their ideas to drive the media machine, rather than the other way around.

When at long last the Clintons passed from the national scene (or so we thought) I looked forward to a restoration of intellectual sobriety and higher standards on the right, even as I wondered what new media frame would come along to replace them.

Then came 9/11. The terrorist attacks on New York and Washington ended our brief holiday from history, throwing the publishing business back into high gear and imbuing the conservative movement with new vigor.

It was also in this period that cable news and blogs came into their own. These were undoubtedly useful and important additions to the culture war arsenal. But I did come to feel that the new prominence of publicists, flacks, and performance artists on both sides of the national debate had turned it into an unedifying race to the bottom.

Looking back, it seemed that the late 1980s and early 1990s had been a golden era for intellectual conservatism. The movement was in glorious opposition, and for those of us involved in it, the struggle to batter down the barriers to conservative ideas at the New York Times, PBS, and other commanding heights of the liberal culture was a noble and important cause.

The problems began when the GOP achieved a majority in Congress, and the intellectuals were increasingly shunted aside by the political class. Particularly after 9/11, and even more after 2004, when the GOP achieved one-party dominance, the Republican establishment, which had leaned heavily on its intellectuals in the long march to political power, now discarded them in favor of cheerleaders and demagogues.

I am not one of those who thinks conservative writers disgraced themselves during the Bush years. Still, there is no denying that a great deal of partisan claptrap was spewed from conservative keyboards in the last several years. On the other hand, I recognized the hallmarks of a classic pamphlet war, an outburst of vituperative rage and bitterness of a kind that always occurs in times of ideological confusion and conflict. It may at times be ugly; certainly it is distasteful to elite liberal opinion. Nonetheless, those on the right who succumbed to the temptations of jingoism and Islamophobia were no worse than their left-wing counterparts who prated about the “lies” of George Bush and his family’s ties with the Nazis.

The triumph of the pamphleteering Regnery model after 9/11 was officially sanctioned by the creation of dedicated conservative imprints by several New York publishers. I wished them well but struggled to adhere to the more “upmarket” Free Press tradition. I had the spirits of Erwin Glikes, Allan Bloom, and Irving Kristol looking over my shoulder, and always had to ask what they would think of the books I was publishing.

Then again, I was hardly insulated from the pressures (or temptations) of pandering to the conservative mass market. Which brings me back to the books Andrew Sullivan attacked me for publishing.

In The Enemy at Home, Dinesh D’Souza argued that America’s depraved mass culture had done more to enrage traditional Muslims than our staunch support for Israel ever could. He therefore advised conservatives to join forces with moderate Muslims against our common enemies, the radical Islamists abroad and the licentious left at home.

Sure, this argument pushed the envelope, but it did so in a reasoned and moderate way, as one would see if one bothered to read it. What wasn’t moderate was the title, which made an unwarranted leap from arguing that the cultural left contributed to Muslim rage to saying that it had caused the 9/11 attacks. This was clearly going too far, even for many conservatives. Indeed, the book was attacked from both directions—by liberals outraged at the “coarseness” of his charge, but also by conservative ideologues heavily invested in the view that moderate Muslims were a myth and that the real enemy was Islam itself.

The resulting debacle was what we call in the trade “a learning experience.” Plainly we had failed to take into account the sea change wrought by 9/11. Published a few years earlier, D’Souza’s argument would probably not have raised too many eyebrows—certainly not on the right. In fact, D’Souza was merely extending to the global arena the argument made by Robert Bork in Slouching Towards Gomorrah.

However, what would once have been regarded as conventional right-wing hyperbole had run afoul of a profound subterranean shift in the dynamics of public debate. D’Souza and I were both still operating under the old culture war paradigm, the Regnery-style pamphleteering model of the 1990s. The question was, what did this mean for the future?

Jonah Goldberg’s book came along at an opportune moment to answer this question, since in the preceding six months a perception had set in that conservative books were in decline. This eager conclusion was based on industry scuttlebutt to the effect that the sales of Ann Coulter’s last book were down 30 percent.

Liberal Fascism succeeded brilliantly, rising to #1 on the New York Times nonfiction list and knocking this newly minted publishing wisdom into the dumpster. The tried-and-true formula worked like a charm: Goldberg’s argument that modern liberalism was a descendant of classical fascism was outrageous on its face, unleashing the predictable Dresden-like firestorm. But when the book turned out to be a serious work of intellectual history, enthusiastic word of mouth among conservatives launched it onto the best-seller list, where it enjoyed a good long run.

Yet it would be just as easy to misread this upbeat sign as to misinterpret the declining sales of Coulter’s book. For what these dueling data points really suggest is that the Regnery model is entering a phase of eclipse while the more serious Free Press model is returning to the forefront. This, in turn, has everything to do with the movement’s political fortunes.

In a recent issue of The New Yorker, George Packer declares that having largely achieved the goals set forth by Ronald Reagan, conservatives have nothing left to sell. The movement was held together by its anti-Communism, and with the collapse of the Soviet Union there is nothing to fall back on but the hoary culture war themes of the 1990s. Packer discusses this thesis at length with David Frum, who argues in his recent book, Comeback, that Reagan-era policy ideas are outdated. Yuval Levin concurs that the conservative “idea factory” is not producing anymore. David Brooks declares that conservative think tanks are “sclerotic” and laments in a recent column that conservatives have developed no free market solutions to the problems of the middle class.

Fair enough—but I am not really interested in ideas of that kind. Policy books don’t sell, and they have little discernable influence. In my opinion the GOP will not be revived through the efforts of intellectuals but by a talented politician who can build a new majority coalition. When that happens, as eventually it will, the intellectuals will be there to translate his or her political instincts into a new conservative ideology. I look forward to midwifing that rebirth with a series of books—like the one Packer praises by Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam.

So what shall we do in the meantime?

Packer observes that for much of its life the conservative intellectual movement has been “negative,” attacking the ideas and policies of political liberalism. For the record, I see nothing wrong with that. Indeed, to imply that there is betrays nothing so much as the unconscious bent of the progressive outlook, which regards all criticism of the liberal juggernaut as inherently anti-historical.

Packer and Co. are eager to declare the death of the conservative movement. But this is to confuse political ideas with politics itself. Thus, while political conservatism may be in decline, intellectual conservatism is very much alive and well.

On a recent trip to Washington, I observed that conservative intellectuals were loosening their collars, breathing easier again. The strain of either supporting the president or keeping their lips buttoned for the last seven years showed in their faces. You might think they would be gloomy as they faced the near-certain collapse of the GOP and the ascendancy of Democrats. But now that Bush is on his way out I sense profound relief and an eagerness to return to more rewarding intellectual pursuits. Notwithstanding the gloom Packer discerns among conservatives, I believe they are on the verge of a renaissance.

Besides, if the nominations of Barack Obama and John McCain mean anything, they mean that the public has tired of the harsh, divisive rhetoric of the Bush years and longs for a return to Buckley’s standard of high-minded civility. If so, that is good news for me.

As an editor, I will continue to stand athwart modern liberalism yelling, “Stop!” To that end I will undoubtedly publish the occasional blazing polemic. But I am also cognizant of my role as a senior figure in the conservative movement, with all the responsibilities that entails. I am now approaching the age that Erwin was when he hired me, and I feel an obligation to him and my other mentors, as well as to the next generation of conservatives, to maintain a certain standard of intellectual seriousness.

Still, being an odd hybrid of the Free Press and Regnery publishing models, I reserve the right to stoop and pander when it suits me. I make no apology for this to Andrew Sullivan, Tim Noah, or anyone else. To such critics I merely say: lighten up.

In any case, unlike my friends in Washington, I care little for the outcome of this election, or the next, or the one after that. I am more comfortable in opposition anyway. The conservative movement may be dead, but the business of the culture war goes on, and that’s enough to keep me busy for another twenty years.

Adam Bellow is vice president/executive editor at Collins Books. He is the publisher of The New Pamphleteer and the author of In Praise of Nepotism.

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