Something fascinating happened in The New York Times Book Review on Sunday. They offered five separate reviews of books by “conservatives,” even as they continued to ignore the number-one nonfiction book at the top of their own Best Sellers list: Unfreedom of the Press by Mark Levin.
It shouldn’t be surprising, since Levin devoted an entire chapter of Unfreedom to exposing the unsavory history of the Times, especially how the Jewish-owned paper of record “intentionally hid the news of the Holocaust in its back pages, when it even talked about it, which was rare.”
They did offer (less than glowing) reviews of Victor Davis Hanson and Ben Shapiro. They also brought on two gay authors to assess two never-Trump “conservatives,” Peter Wehner and George Will. Even then, they are shamed for being insufficient. James Kirchick, a fellow at the liberal Brookings Institution currently writing a history of gay D.C., reviewed Wehner’s tome The Death of Politics and could not identify anything extremist in the Obama LGBTQ mandates (or the lawsuits against Catholic nuns) that would explain the Christian support for Trump.
Though his recognition of the evangelical right’s manifold hypocrisies and corruptions is welcome, one wonders what took Wehner so long. A clue can be found in his occasionally earnest tone, visible in the expression of sincere shock that a movement that propelled the likes of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and Jimmy Swaggart would eventually throw in its lot with a pagan who embodies the seven deadly sins.
In the eyes of Times editors, Trump is a “pagan” and Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi are “devout Catholics.”
Kirchick concluded: “With conservatives increasingly scorning decency as a crutch for the weak, Wehner is a model of conscientious political engagement. For that reason alone, his book should be pressed upon both those on the left who believe that the only way to ‘resist’ the current administration is by sinking to its level, and those on the right tempted to wallow there.”
For the George Will book The Conservative Sensibility, the Times assigned Andrew Sullivan, the kook who guessed Sarah Palin’s youngest son wasn’t actually her baby. Will describes himself as “an amiable, low-voltage atheist,” so Sullivan wrote “More’s the pity then that Will decides not to name and blame the members of the fundamentalist right for the damage they have done to a sensibility that is so alien to them, or to those so-called conservatives who saw evangelical certitude as an ally.”
Sullivan concluded that Will’s list of virtues “inevitably cast a shadow on what passes for conservatism in the Republican Party today. Their values are domination; gut-thinking; cultishness; recklessness; fundamentalism; and the preference for raw power over letting things be.”
In fact, as Will’s argument makes cumulatively clear, the current Republican Party is as great a threat to conservatism as Will understands it as a feckless progressivism. This book is therefore not only a case for a certain kind of politics in the West. In its silence and implications, it is a damning indictment of what American “conservatives” have become. Welcome, George, to the conservative opposition to modern Republicanism. It’s a long, long road ahead.
As if Sullivan is anyone’s idea of a conservative!