This is an essay question. What do Steve Hayward, Douglas Feith, Irving Kristol and Gertrude Himmelfarb (and William Kristol), George W. Bush, Leo Strauss, Larry Arnn, and Charles Krauthammer have in common? (Hint: The article connecting them appears in tomorrow’s New York Times Book Review.)
If you answered “neocons,” you get full credit and you have demonstrated your understanding that that we’re not calibrating intellectual affiliation at a high level of sophistication. You get extra credit if you mentioned admiration for Winston Churchill in your answer. And if you worked your way toward a conclusion that they are “in effect, inventing a new interventionist tradition for the Republican Party,” well, you must also be an editorial writer for the Los Angeles Times.
Jacob Heilbrunn’s crude essay is “Winston Churchill, neocon?” Should we deduct a point for Heilbrunn’s failure to work Israel explicitly into the equation? Or is Heilbrunn saving that for the book he’s writing on “neoconservatism”?
Steve Hayward, incidentally, has taken a break from completing the second volume of his Age of Reagan to write a short book elaborating the comparison between Churchill and Reagan. I’m pretty sure that “neoconservatism” won’t be the link, but Steve’s book will undoubtedly provide important evidence in support of Heilbrunn’s supple thesis. (New York Times illustration by Ed Lam.)
UPDATE: Don’t miss Peter Schramm’s comment on Heilbrunn at No Left Turns. Among other excellent points, Schramm observes:
We will continue to see such polemics for many years to come, and…there is one massive reason (as Winston might say): The Left is lost and they have nothing to add to our current conversation about politics, especially the politics of security and war. So they pout and pant and reveal that they are in the midst of a deep intellectual malaise and they see no way out save to criticize and jabber. The parrots are jabbering, it turns out, even as the eagles act and talk. But the parrots are not being heard.