In a recent post, I noted that one of the favorite pastimes of movement conservatives is to talk about how the conservative movement has gone from the majestic heights of the prose of William F. Buckley and Russell Kirk to the supposed crayon markings of Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity. Matt Lewis wrote an entire book a couple years ago, Too Dumb to Fail: How the GOP Betrayed the Reagan Revolution to Win Elections (and How It Can Reclaim Its Conservative Roots, in which he spends at least half of the book making that case over and over again. (By the way, contra Lewis, the “Reagan revolution” was not a revolution.)
Whatever the merit of that argument (and there is something to it), it never dawns on these folks that they are, first and foremost, implicating themselves. Why haven’t they written anything of note? (No, Charles Cooke’s The Conservaterian Manifesto doesn’t count.) Why haven’t they done anything that’s both serious and engaging? Allan Bloom’s erudite and difficult book The Closing of the American Mind sold hundreds of thousands of copies when it was published in 1987. So there is a market out there.
But, evidently, the brain trust of intellectual conservatism isn’t up to the task. This is why during the 2016 campaign I always chuckled whenever I read a NeverTrump conservative denouncing Donald Trump for supposedly having zero ideas. And they do?