Friday, August 10, 2007

Turning Right

... Starr, the deputy editor of The Weekly Standard, quotes the British poet Philip Larkin. Larkin the poet was an artist of the first rank, but Larkin the man was an infamously small-minded reactionary. He once told an interviewer, “I suppose I identify the right with certain virtues and the left with certain vices. All very unfair, no doubt.” These essays are Larkinesque, but with all the heavily qualifying sardonicism stricken out. The left is knee-jerk and borderline depraved; the right is freethinking and decent. All very fair, no doubt. Lay this down as your given and the comforting solecisms flow forth unregulated. When the left is being idealistic, it is na├»ve, utopian, technocratic and meddling. When the right is being idealistic, it is idealistic. Thus Lyndon Johnson’s war on poverty reveals the left to be hopelessly overreaching, as David Brooks assures us, while George W. Bush’s war in Iraq “is one of the noblest endeavors the United States, or any great power, has ever undertaken.”

That's from Stephen Metcalf's sharp review of the recent essay anthology Why I Turned Right: Leading Baby Boom Conservatives Chronicle Their Political Journeys.