How to tell "the good fight" from a bad one against liberal democracy's enemies?
In 1941, a 17-year-old at Exeter struggled with that question as World War II raged in Europe and storm clouds gathered over America. Wrestling with his demons under New Hampshire's charcoal skies, he penned this sonnet:
A little-remarked virtue of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth is its graphic rendering of The Parable of the Frog. What? You don't know about it and aren't haunted by it day and night? Well, if you're a journalist in Washington or New York, it's no wonder. You and some colleagues are probably the hapless frog himself.
I encountered the frog story two years ago in America Alone: The Neoconservatives and the Global Order, a book by conservative diplomats Stefan Halper and Jonathan Clarke that assailed lies and scare tactics used by Bill Kristol and others to whip up popular support for Bush's terror war and his bread-and-circus economy.
In a recent New York Times review of America at the Crossroads -- Francis Fukayama's account of his change of heart on the Iraq War and the national-security strategy behind it -- Paul Berman revealed perhaps more than he intended about pro-war intellectuals who are now wavering. Like Berman more than like Fukuyama, many public thinkers who trumpeted reasons to invade Iraq -- David Brooks, Peter Beinart, and Charles Krauthammer come Immediately to mind -- have lately been squirming, bobbing, weaving, joking lamely, and sometimes even feigning a stay-the-course
They're beginning to look like the old Saturday-morning cartoon character Wile E. Coyote, running in hot pursuit of the Road Runner, zooming right off a cliff and continuing to run through thin air -- until he takes a look around, gulps, and plummets straight down.
Well, the conservative-movement pundits hot in pursuit of liberal-faculty subversion on the nation's campuses aren't gulping just yet. After losing their battle to keep Lawrence Summers president of Harvard by blaming his travails on politically correct professors, they've rushed on to blame diversity
In an unforgettable review-essay in the June 2004 Washington Monthly, Nicholas Confessore detailed New York Times columnist David Brooks' maddening habit of oscillating between hard-nosed journalism and conservative-movement hackery. In the first kind of column, Confessore showed, Brooks will do some serious reporting or at least chin-stroking, sounding for all the world like a disinterested public savant; but in another, he'll gyrate and propagandize shamelessly for movement