In a fantastic piece of essay journalism, George Packer of the New Yorker charts conservatism's fall from Nixon's astute ability to bottle Southern hatred and Northern working class cultural anxieties into a dominant political movement to its slaughter in the horror show that is Iraq.
Much of Packer's analysis dissects the inability of conservative Republicans to create a new ethos and to push policies that can galvanize excitement among Americans frustrated by wage inequality and who have learned supply side economics offers them nothing. This intellectual malaise has, fittingly, led to conservative cannibalism among the movement's most prized brain trusts: the Catholic conservative National Review and the Jewish neoconservative Commentary.
Last year, writing in The New Republic, Sam Tanenhaus revealed a 1997 memo in which Buckley--who had originally hired Brooks at National Review on the strength of a brilliant undergraduate parody that he had written of Buckley--refused to anoint him as his heir because Brooks, a Jew, is not a "believing Christian." At Commentary, the neoconservative counterpart to National Review, the editorship was bequeathed by Norman Podhoretz, its longtime editor, to his son John, whose crude op-eds for the New York Post didn't measure up to Commentary's intellectual past. A conservative journalist familiar with both publications said that what mattered most at the Christian National Review was doctrinal purity, whereas at the Jewish Commentary it was blood relations: "It's a question of who can you trust, and it comes down to religious fundamentals."