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NYT Book Review’s Sam Tanenhaus Predicted Death of Conservatism — No Mention If It Would Outlive NYT

Posted on November 6 2010 12:00 pm

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Sam Tanenhaus, editor of The New York Times Book Review and Week in Review, author of many books and articles including a January 2009 offering in The New Republic entitled Conservatism Is Dead — An intellectual autopsy of the movement and its cleverly repackaged follow-up: The Death of Conservatism (which might have been subtitled “Same autopsy, more words”) is clearly, as these credentials would suggest, a man of remarkable erudition and prescience.

Consider this forthright pronouncement in the 2009 article and ask yourself it’s any coincidence the names “Tanenhaus” and “Nostradamus” are so similar.

What conservatives have yet to do is confront the large but inescapable truth that movement conservatism is exhausted and quite possibly dead.

Truly eerie when someone reads your mail like that but before we proceed let’s consider at least one conservative’s attempt – in the aftermath of the mid-term elections – to “confront the large but inescapable truth.”

I wonder if I can get that in a ring-tone, but I digress.

Tanenhaus’s prognostications which have echoed through the months – if not the centuries or even a whole lot of months – have been an important cornerstone to the “wicked witch is dead” munchkin dance as practiced by so many on the Left – perhaps none so effectively as James Carville.

Curiously, Carville wasn’t asked about this last Tuesday on Good Morning America, proving yet again that George Stephanopoulos as an interviewer really can’t hit the broad side of a barn, but in fairness there may have been a gentlemen’s agreement not to discuss this until Tanenhaus got back to them to explain what happened.

One would hope he will get back to them soon because, despite his long (okay very long) and elegant case for Conservative demise – so persuasive in fact that I found myself checking my own pulse – there appears to be a boatload of new and returning Republican Congressmen and Senators who are feeling just fine.

In reviewing his own arguments Tanenhaus might want to reconsider his reading of the electorate:

Voters don’t want [the size of government] reduced. What they want is government that’s “big” for them–whether it’s Democrats who call for job-training programs and universal health care or Republicans eager to see billions funneled into “much-needed and underfunded defense procurement,” …

Or his central thesis – a very old and hackneyed idea concealed within multiple layers of historical half-truths and linguistic cotton batting – that modern conservatives are in fact just angry old white men (though I concede the term “revanchist” sounds much more appealing) intent on rolling back progressivism (which he sees as a good thing), which ipso facto makes them both irrational and quixotic.

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