Looks like it’s me who has a godawful sense of timing. Assuming that we don’t get summarily DQ’d, which I suppose could happen at any minute, we can count on the complaining from the rest of the rightwing blogosphere to start any minute now. As far as I’m concerned that’s a good thing for any number of reasons beyond bending Michelle Malkin even more out of shape than usual. It also sets the terms for a discussion about conservatism that strikes me as long overdue. As far as I’m concerned John wholeheartedly deserves to make that list, but then by any traditional definition of conservatism the list of blogs that deserve the title just isn’t that long. Sullivan, the Volokh community, Daniel Larison, The Commissar and Greg Djerejian stood up against expanding unsupervised government power even when it served their own party. Most of the rest kept their cars hitched to the Bush Movement long after it unambiguously jumped tracks from conservatism to naked authoritarianism.
This post won’t resolve that debate, if that’s even possible*, but the value of having it strikes me as justification enough. Although John and I both have a pragmatist’s short patience for ideological navelgazing few things strike me as more important than highlighting the profound unreality of political discourse today. See for example concise little gem by Jim Henley. It seems clear that the conservatives of 2000 would be shocked and appalled by the perfectly quotidian, mainstream positions of “conservatives” today. What changed? Some people didn’t. John stayed the same, Sullivan didn’t go anywhere, and I think that a fair case can be made that the holdouts deserve the title more than the larger number who ran off to a darker place and took the term with them.
(*) Note added in update – there is no reason to think we will succeed where Sullivan and his book have failed.