Movement, persuasion, or quest for power?

The current issue of The Weekly Standard features this important piece by Irving Kristol, the “godfather” of the neocons, called “The Neoconservative Persuasion.” Kristol confesses that, not long ago, he said that neoconservatisim had been absorbed into the mainstream of American conservatism. But he now confesses error. Kristol argues that neoconservatism is actually a “persuasion,” not a movement, and as such surfaces from time to time, primarily for the purpose of showing Republicans and conservatives how to govern a modern democracy.
As George Will might say, “Well.”
I had always thought it was Ronald Reagan who showed Republicans and conservatives how to govern our democracy in the 1980s. As to the present, it may be that the neocons have helped show President Bush the way on foreign policy. If they are showing him the way on domestic policy, it is far from clear that they can properly claim to be creating “a new kind of conservative politics suitable to governing a modern democracy.” Might it be more accurate to say that they (or perhaps less ideological political advisers) are helping to show the way to win the next election?


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