The collapse of intellectual conservatism in America has been as complete as it has been swift. Consider a few contrasts. In 1984, the leading conservative spokesman in the media was George Will; by 1994, it was Rush Limbaugh. The basic concerns of intellectual conservatives in the eighties were foreign policy and economics; by the early nineties they had become dirty pictures and deviant sex. In the early 1980s, the Public Interest was publishing scholarly analyses of public policy, from a moderate conservative point of view; by the early nineties, it was publishing a potted commentary on the sexual practices of the ancient Greeks and Chinese by a California radio talk show host, Dennis Prager. The American Spectator, which in the eighties had striven for respectability by publishing neocon scholars, had by 1994 turned into a semipornographic tabloid of a kind familiar in Britain. Barry Goldwater was a conservative hero in the early eighties; now he is a pariah, considered too far to the left because he supports an end to legal and social discrimination against gay Americans. In the eighties, Peter Berger and Richard John Neuhaus authored a thoughtful monograph on the importance of intermediate institutions; by...
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