The Spectator

Conservatives at war

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No, this has nothing to do with the Tory response to Gordon Brown -- or to Quentin Davies. This is about what, in another context, Richard Hofstadter called 'the paranoid style in American politics'.

In the latest issue of the liberal New Republic Johann Hari has an immensely funny piece about his adventures on a cruise organised by the right-wing National Review. Go here.

But it is not all jokes. Hari's amused hostility to his fellow-travellers is tempered by his sympathy for William F. Buckley Jr, founder of National Review, and Rich Lowry, the present editor. Both men are sceptics, both talk like conservatives. Most of the others on the cruise, however, are swivel-eyed fantasists, pathologically anti-European -- what are they scared of? -- and in furious denial about the failure of George Bush's global democratic revolution. King of the crazies is Norman Podhoretz, editor-at-large of Commentary. Buckley and Podhoretz are now at war. Here's how Hari sees it in his TNR piece:

'Podhoretz and Buckley now inhabit opposite poles of post-September 11 American conservatism, and they stare at wholly different Iraqs. Podhoretz is the Brooklyn-born, street-fighting kid who traveled through a long phase of left- liberalism to a pugilistic belief in America's power to redeem the world, one bomb at a time. Today, he is a bristling gray ball of aggression, here to declare that the Iraq war has been "an amazing success." He waves his fist and declaims, "There were WMD, and they were shipped to Syria. ... This picture of a country in total chaos with no security is false. It has been a triumph. It couldn't have gone better." He wants more wars, and fast. He is "certain" Bush will bomb Iran, and "thank God" for that.'

I urge you to read the whole thing. Even if you don't like Hari's approach, you will enjoy being annoyed by it.