The Republican “intelligentsia” likes to see itself as the “party of ideas.” Their “public intelllectuals”, the type I refer to as swaydos, (pseudos, if you’re not in the know), are much lauded. William F. Buckley, whom I’ve yet to hear construct an argument that isn’t based on innuendo, snide insult, and dogmatic assertion of troglodyte opinion is the father figure to these wannabee “scholar-statesmen.” William Kristol, now on probationary assignment as water carrier for the conservative cause on the opinion pages of the New York Times, a paper he described as treasonous not long ago, is another star in this cerebral firmament – or is it penumbra?
Fortunately, there are plenty of people who do know a thing or two who can get a good letter published in the Times. I reproduce in full the wonderful response of Todd Gitlin to Kristol’s latest mental drivelling. He correctly cites a prime technique of the right-wing fustigators (love that word, got it from Carlyle!), i.e., attacking “the left,” “liberals,” “academics,” and so on for expressing opinions they deplore without giving a single example:
To the Editor:
In order to impugn “the quality of thought of the Democrats’ academic and media supporters,” none of whom he names or quotes, William Kristol drafts George Orwell, who wrote in 1942 that “a permanent and pensioned opposition” suffers a deterioration in “the quality of its thought.”
By Mr. Kristol’s reasoning, the belligerent right that was out of power from 1932 into the 1970s should have been terminally shriveled by the time it came to power with Ronald Reagan in 1981. Perhaps its long exile explains the ruinous fatuousness of such manifestoes as the declaration on Sept. 20, 2001, that failure to invade Iraq “will constitute an early and perhaps decisive surrender in the war on international terrorism” — a declaration by William Kristol and fellow conservatives.
New York, Feb. 18, 2008
The writer, a professor of journalism and sociology at Columbia University, is the author of several books about politics.