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Bashing the Liberals: How Neoconservative Essayists Make Their Point


ISSUE:  Summer 1987

In an effort to make clear sense of the plethora of books being published about the New York intellectuals, Hilton Kramer, editor of The New Criterion, turns to Alexander Bloom’s Prodigal Sons: The New York Intellectuals and Their World as an instructive case in point. Bloom, who teaches history at Wheaton College, is neither a scoundrel nor “your garden-variety left-wing militant.” If he were, Kramer would, no doubt, have rolled out his big, neoconservative guns. But Bloom is worse, much worse, and so he falls into a category somewhere beneath contempt:

What he is, in other words, is your quintessential liberal academic. He is not given to billboarding his Sixties ideology; he simply assumes, without argument and as a matter of course, that it is from the perspective of the Sixties that the history of the New York intellectuals must now be written. In this assumption he is entirely representative of his academic generation, and it is as a product of the regnant liberal academy—rather than as an account of its subject—that his book makes its principal claim on our attention.

If Kramer’s impatience with yet another study of the Partisan Review crowd were merely a matter of pitting those who had been there against those who got it “secondhand,” and in their college’s library stacks, one could dismiss the backbiting as unimportant. After all, polemics was never designed for the faint of heart, and Bloom must surely have known that he was grabbing hold of a hot wire when he set out to write a book about the likes of Lillian Hellman and Mary McCarthy, Lionel Trilling and Philip Rahv. But Kramer is out to do more—much more—than merely excoriate Bloom for what he takes to be a dumb book. The barely disguised agenda in his piece is that “. . .the history of the New York intellectuals—not the memoirs but the history—is being written from the perspective of the Left, with its touchstones of intellectual probity and achievement drawn from the “idealism” of the Sixties and the political and cultural myths of the Thirties.” Poor Bloom, had he put a wetter thumb to the political winds, had his history been more Right-thinking, he would, no doubt, have been The New Criterion’s academic hero rather than its goat.

I belabor the minor squirmish between Bloom’s book and Kramer’s review-essay because it strikes me as symptomatic of a wider cultural condition. No matter that terms like “liberal” and “conservative,” Right and Left, have become so slippery, so debased, that they are used almost exclusively for name-calling; no matter that one can name a dozen self-professed neoconservative essayists for every “liberal” who will stand and allow himself, or herself, to be counted; no matter that the doors of everything from think tanks to executive offices are open to what is popularly regarded as solid, down-to-earth, back-to-basics “conservative” thought—the plain fact is that bashing the liberals is what still gets the creative juices flowing.

Here, for example, is a representative section from Joseph Epstein’s Ambition, a book about the hopelessly nai’ve way our major American writers look at Ambition, Success, and Money. What, Epstein asks, are the lessons that our best students learn when they take English 101, especially if their instructor has rumpled hair, a corduroy sports coat, drives a beat-up Volvo, and figures that the American Dream is so much bunk?

Business, to begin with, is hypocritical and sterile (see Babbitt). Ambition is unseemly and everywhere suspect (see What Makes Sammy Run, The Great Gatsby, and, for nonreaders, the movies Citizen Kane and The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz); Middle-class life is essentially boring (see modern literature); upper-middle-class life, worse (see, these students say, their own families). Affluence is a sham, a greedy affair bringing no happiness (see Galbraith et al.).

What is striking about Epstein’s book is less its argument— there have always been those who felt that Mammon got the short end of High Art’s stick, although the letters Ph. D. seldom followed their names—than its date of publication: 1980. Epstein teaches at fashionable Northwestern University, but one wonders how much time he spends on the campus, much less how much time he spends taking the contemporary student pulse. Granted, there was a time when students gave corporate recruiters the deaf ear—and often the bum’s rush—but that was long ago and in what looks now like another country. The times, as the counterculture used to crow, are a-changin’. My guess is that Epstein’s Northwestern—like my own college, indeed, like any institution in the higher education game—-cannot hire business professors fast enough. Far from withering away for lack of ambition (Epstein’s thesis), the truth is that today’s students are shockingly candid about their greed.

But that much said, Ambition would have been wrong-headed even if it had appeared a decade earlier. Epstein’s complaint is partly an exercise in keeping the Sixties alive so that he can kick it in the shins, partly an effort to show that academics can be as patriotic, as given to old-fashioned boosterism and pluck as the next Rotarian. In fact, Epstein cannot quite resist “coming clean” about how he turned into a flag-waver:

One damp California morning, as I concluded a talk before the City Club of San Diego—there I am again, speaking to the rich—I was asked why my own ideas had begun to change. . . I answered that I thought they had changed because I viewed the world as having changed. . . . Besides, I had a confession to make: once I dropped the belief that America was the foremost menace in the world, once I slipped free from the notion that further “programs” (more of the same, without any radical change in perspective or orientation) would alleviate domestic problems, I discovered that the United States, for all its faults, for all that still needed to be made better, was nonetheless a most impressive country—and I couldn’t think of any other I should rather be living in. Now here is a startling confessional for an intellectual to make: I like it here.

Nothing quite beats candor as a strategy for grabbing the “high ground.” For confessional poets like Robert Lowell or Sylvia Plath, the shameful secrets they talked about had to do with divorce and alcoholism, suicidal impulses and madness. Here was a raw, undiluted poetry—and, best of all, one credentialed by actual lives, actual suffering. Epstein simply turns the art of confession on its head, not only by admitting that he likes it “here”—meaning America—but also that he likes it here, meaning the posh City Club of San Diego. Admittedly, he had once numbered himself among those who could give America the jeremiad it badly needed, but no longer. Why fight starched linen tablecloths, uniformed waiters, and five-course extravaganzas? Why bite the well-manicured hands so willing to feed him? After all, nobody likes a knocker. Besides, those really in the know—that is, the movers and shakers—know better. Your run-of-the-mill academic is not likely to know what fork to use, much less what to say at a lectern after lunch. The point of Epstein’s sly “confession” is, of course, that he does.

Granted, one does not feel the full force of Epstein’s agenda in a single essay. To read a collection like Plausible Prejudices (1985), however, is to see both pattern and perspective writ large. For Epstein, contemporary literature is firmly in the liberals’ grip, and the result has been to foist no end of foolishnesses upon us:

The invasion of politics into culture, in my view to an improper extent, has also helped to make literature in our day seem second-rate. Perhaps I am blinded by my own politics, but as I look about me I find that culture today in the United States is very much in thrall to political liberalism. The point is a bit complicated, but, as I view it, I find that, while the country is not particularly liberal, the culture has become increasingly so. If proof is wanted, I would point to the books that win prizes in the United States, to the politics of the men and women who constitute the majority of the membership of the American Institute of Arts and Letters, to the critical and literary assumptions upon which so many contemporary American writers base their work.

Others have speculated about the widening gap between our cultural heroes and our culture, about the ever-thinning soup contemporary writers serve up and a mass readership increasingly convinced that literature no longer matters. Indeed, with the exception of those who have hitched their stars to post-post-modernist experimentation, nearly everybody else would agree that contemporary American literature is going through a bad patch. What makes Epstein’s position distinctive, then, are not his smug satisfactions in calling naked emperors to our attention but, rather, his giddy delight in bashing the liberals who insist that American literature be a mirror turned to the Left:

One poet who apparently draws unfailingly large crowds at universities is the feminist Adrienne Rich. I have never seen Miss Rich in performance. Doubtless hers is a fine enough show. Yet it does say something about the present state of literature that the only poet who can consistently draw large crowds at a university is a thoroughly politicized one. Universities have political agendas; they seem to want to do what they construe to be the right thing by all groups within the university community. Thus universities are quick—or at least they were quick, when the money was at hand—to set up black studies programs, women’s studies programs, you name it. Because universities are disposed to this general view, literature under their auspices has come to look a little like the Democratic Party under George McGovern.

Epstein, of course, can vote with his feet whenever an unworthy black writer or ideologically shrill feminist hits the campus, and if his critique of Rich is at all representative, apparently he stays home often. To know her politics is to know “where she’s coming from”—which, for Epstein, is quite enough.

What matters more, however, is the way that liberals stack the deck in semiofficial volumes of literary history like the Harvard Guide to Contemporary American Writing. By asking the question that also serves as the title of his essay— namely, “Is American Literature an Equal-Opportunity Employer?”—Epstein means to “have it out” with those who would divide the canon into neat but impossibly artificial categories: Black Writers, Women Writers, Jewish-American Writers, Homosexual Writers, etc. Harvard should somehow know better, Epstein keeps implying, especially as one cliché-ridden essay follows on the heels of another.

But, Epstein also implies, half-baked thought is precisely what one might expect of the current crop of academic critics, and of a liberal bastion like Harvard. Indeed, we have become so accustomed to thinking about our writers in terms of race, sex, and ethnic identification that the very idea of a category called “Good Writing” would seem surprising, if not downright bizarre.

What, then, to do? Epstein tackles the problem by asking us to imagine Alberto D’Andrea, a young man studying American literature at the University of Rome. He has dutifully made his way through the Puritans and the great New England writers of the 19th century; he has studied Hawthorne and Melville, Twain and James, and has had a quick survey that touched on naturalism and early modernists like Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Faulkner. Presumably he’s ready to take on contemporary American writing, and he figures that the Harvard Guide to Contemporary American Writing will help.

Unfortunately, contemporary American literature seems to D’Andrea to be a confusing mishmash, hodgepodge s piled atop hodgepodges:

. . . There is black literature, of course, of which Alberto has heard, with black writers on the attack against American society, and then further divided among themselves. There is women’s literature, speaking from, as the critics in the United States say, another consciousness, “another equally significant area of experience.” There are realists, naturalists, novelists of manners, and experimental novelists by the score. There are Southern writers, deep fellows these, writing on the theme of self and history and something called “the awful responsibility of Time.” Then there are the Jewish writers—Alberto pictures them in yarmulkes and prayer shawls—dreamy figures, trying to flee the responsibility of tradition, family, civilization, so that they can enjoy sex a bit more.

As Epstein’s satiric persona, D’Andrea does a masterful job of giving the raspberry to dozens of well-regarded American critics. The snippets that D’Andrea (aka Epstein) selects are pretentious, trivial, often downright silly. Could the “experts” have gotten it all wrong?

Evidently so. For what emerges from the Harvard Guide. . .is a portrait of American literature that steadfastly refuses to wrap itself in the flag, and to sing our national anthem with full throat:

If all these writers, with all their special concerns and points of view, have one thing in common it is a grave unease in their own country. The Harvard Guide, Alberto cannot help but notice, claims over and over again that most American writers acutely feel a sense of powerlessness. In the words of one author discussed in the book, “America is a bitch.” With his yellow-marker pen, Alberto D’Andrea draws a line under that sentence.

Here is a case—increasingly common among neoconservative essayists—in which history repeats itself with a difference, the difference being intellectual credentials, rhetorical skills, and ideological quarterlies like Commentary. To be sure, there have always been those who hankered for a more patriotic American literature, complete with “positive” portraits of kindly businessmen, satisfied citizens, and happy marriages, but the calls seldom bore the postmark of a department of English or the imprimatur of a Commentary magazine.

At stake, of course, is nothing less than the national imagination. By pulling down the vanities and the lavish [undeserved] praise that surround writers like Joyce Carol Oates, Thomas Pynchon, Robert Stone, John Irving, Ann Beattie et al. Epstein means to clear ground for, say, a James Gould Cozzens revival. No doubt there are contemporary writers for whom Epstein might work up a cheer or two, but I suspect that their politics would ultimately disappoint him.

Fascism, Hemingway once pointed out, is the politics of disappointed men; neoconservatives share something of this generalized sense of disappointment, without, of course, sharing in the totalitarian itch that make fascists so dangerous. In Epstein’s case, he takes an almost giddy delight in counting the ways popular culture is turning sour. Take language, for instance. A gaffe in a student paper (what English professor does not have his or her favorite?) becomes yet another occasion to bash the liberals who are, it seems, responsible for every crime, including those perpetrated against the language:

Poor Madame Bovary [Epstein begins], one understands and sympathizes with her condition. It is very awkward—if not so awkward as that of the freshman student at my university who, in a term paper, spotted the difficulty when he wrote: “Madame Bovary’s problem is that she cannot make love in the concrete.” How could he know that the word “concrete” is itself an abstraction, a by now quite stale metaphor, and one used in his unpracticed hand to hilarious effect? How could he know that for professors one of the few pleasures in grading student papers is that of writing zippy comments in the margins, and that he had set up his professor exquisitely? In his unconscious trope rendering Emma Bovary frigid in the concrete, the possibilities he provided for marginal comment—and comedy—were not practically but altogether boundless. Only the greatest restraint prevents me from trying out twenty or thirty such comments here myself.

But that much said by way of introduction, Epstein gets down to the more serious business at hand—namely, an investigation into why there is such a booming market for books like William Safire’s On Language or John Simon’s Paradigms Lost. Part of the problem, of course, is that “language is under attack by feminists, by proponents of Black English and bilingualism, by homosexuals, and by a general resurgence of the populist strain in our culture.” No doubt the general public, hungering for “standards” in an age that has knocked most of them into a cocked hat, figures that books on usage will perform the same social magic that Emily Post on etiquette did for earlier generations.

Unfortunately, the problem of language—like the other problems Epstein pinches his face about in Plausible Prejudices—comes down to politics, and more to the point, to liberal politics:

. . . language itself has been under political attack for at least a decade now. Here feminists lead the way. Precision, elegance, good sense, all must fall before the feminist juggernaut, from doing away with any words suffixed with “man” to the creation of new pronouns. But it is not feminists alone who must be catered to linguistically. The sine qua non of contemporary speech and writing is that it give no possible offense. Books—and especially textbooks—are combed carefully for possible linguistic burrs. Among the minority groups whose sensibilities must be guarded is the group known as the college-attending ignorant. Thus a friend of mine, in preparing a textbook in art history, was told to eliminate the term “anti-bourgeois”—on the ground that it was too difficult for his intended undergraduate audience. One might as well be asked to write a cookbook without mentioning the word salt.

Epstein is, by any reckoning, a formidable writer. In an age where metaphysical jawbreakers dominate academic discourse and where the level of general speech is punctuated by “you knot’s,” “O.K.’s,” and grunts, he can hold his own with a purist like John Simon (indeed, Epstein can even take him to task for the occasional verbal misfire in Paradigms Lost) without giving in to the sheer nastiness that often spoils Simon’s prose.

In short, Epstein tries hard to come off as other than a linguistic snob. But his asides give him away. Here, for example, is Epstein on one of John Simon’s pet projects: “an Academy of the Anglo-American Language.” After admitting that this is an idea whose time is never likely to come in a democracy such as ours, Epstein explains why, and in ways that tell us more about bashing the Left than it does about linguistic niceties:

In a culture so intensely political as ours now is, creating such an Academy figures to be much more impossible than necessary. To cite but a single example, could such an Academy be formed without Noam Chomsky, the great name in linguistics in our day? Probably not. Yet I for one should not be pleased to see so politically engaged a man as Chomsky adjudicating questions of language; imagine him, for example, on the word “imperialism.”

The reasonably good manners Epstein extends to Simon (a man who does not usually bring out this quality in others) screech to a halt when he imagines Chomsky as Language Czar. One wonders, though, if Epstein would be as quick to disqualify a Patrick Buchanan or a William F. Buckley— writers who know their way around a paragraph—on the ground that they, too, are “politically engaged”?

In fact, when Epstein takes our “politically intensive culture” to task, he often does so without realizing that his essays—and the magazines in which they appear—could be dragged into court as Exhibit A. No doubt Epstein would argue that the politics he means has an inordinate affection for the word “rights”—as in Gay Rights or Women’s Rights or Whales’ Rights. He would insist that there are no neoconservative bumper stickers, and that there is a mighty difference between the threadbare sloganeering of the Left and the erudition of a Commentary magazine.

II

Nonetheless, magazines like Commentary and The New Criterion suggest an atmosphere of sharply defined ideological positions. Every square inch of every issue—from its lead articles to its book reviews—contributes to the articulation of a neoconservative vision. In short, one does not open a new issue expecting surprises. This makes for a certain disadvantage among readers who are not True Believers, but it is a boon to those contributors who collect their essays between hard covers. Epstein was one beneficiary; Midge Dector is another. Beginning with The Liberated Woman and Other Americans (1971) and continuing through collections like The New Chastity and Other Arguments Against Women’s Liberation (1972) and Liberal Parents, Radical Children (1975), Dector has been a steady presence in the pages of Commentary—usually as one of feminism’s chief detractors. That the magazine is edited by her husband, Norman Podhoretz, makes them look for all the world like an American equivalent of F.R. Leavis whose Scrutiny magazine often published articles by his wife, Queenie. In any event, what began as so much “prophecy” in The Liberated Woman—namely, that “It seems nowadays more acceptable to characterize oneself as the victim of a monstrosity, or even as a monster oneself, than as simply human. Apart from its terrifying arrogance, this attitude leaves us as a people gasping every five years for an understanding of what has happened since the last set of formulas captured our collective mind, and, in our breathlessness, empty and waiting for the next set to replace it”—gradually hardened, in the next collections, into neoconversative dogma. But this much said, let me hasten to add that Dector is hardly a Johanna One-Note. In recent years—again, in the pages of Commentary— Dector has made it clear that she is every bit the homophobe as others in the neoconservative camp (“The Boys on the Beach,” Commentary, September 1980), and she has even taken her swipes at Irving Howe (“Socialism & Its Irresponsibilities: The Case of Irving Howe,” Commentary, December 1982). Moreover, as the Executive Director of the Committee for a Free World and a Trustee of The Heritage Foundation—neoconservative enterprises of the first water— she is a lady whose orbits ripple well beyond the editorial offices of Commentary magazine.

And yet, it is Commentary that published Dector’s most controversial essays, and it is a safe bet that the Acknowledgments’ page of her next book will reflect this simple but vitally important fact. What will not be acknowledged, however, are the subtle ways that Midge Dector and Norman Podhoretz have striven to assume the mantle, and the prominence, once worn so elegantly by Lionel and Diana Trilling. In many important ways, Lionel Trilling was the quintessential New York intellectual, and since his death in 1975 any number of cultural figures—on the Left as well as the Right—have argued long and hard to anchor his ghost squarely in their camp. None, however, has been more energetic than Podhoretz.

From his student days at Columbia University, Podhoretz counted himself in Trilling’s camp, although he will hasten to add that if Trilling were alive he would no doubt be making common cause with the neoconservatives. As Podhoretz’ syllogism would have it: (a) neoconservatives are right-thinking folks (b) Trilling was no fool (ergo) Trilling would be a neoconservative. So much for Podhoretz’ less-than-dazzling logic. Argue that it is easier to imagine a Trilling appalled by the steady drift toward the Right that Commentary has taken, that the cultural pronouncements Podhoretz makes with the certainty of a butcher cleaving meat were hardly Trilling’s style, that being called a neo-anything would have offended his sensibility, and Podhoretz will point to the title of his newest book—appropriated from Trilling himself—and explain that

Writers have been killed by politicians for expressing ideas of writing in certain ways; but (what is less often acknowledged) these same politicians have also been inspired by other writers to shed the blood of their fellow writers, and millions of nonwriters as well.

The nine essays collected in The Bloody Crossroads concentrate on the latter half of Trilling’s equation, at that spot where writers meet, and sometimes embrace, the nightmare of communism. As Podhoretz argues, there may be two major forms of totalitarianism, but they are not equally insidious:

. . . Hitler inspired very few writers to apologize for his crimes against their fellow writers, let alone his crimes against any other groups or classes.

Oh yes, there was Ezra Pound, there was Wyndam Lewis, there was Louis-Ferdinand Celine, but these writers strike Podhoretz as exceptions, as small potatoes. Because fascism is abhorrent to the liberal West, because it requires brute force for its successes, Podhoretz insists that even the Nazis at their worst were neither as insidious nor as dangerous as communism. Why so? Because communism has always depended on the “wholehearted enthusiasm that countless writers have from the beginning felt and openly displayed” on its behalf.

In short, Podhoretz takes the gloves off early. He is an anti-Communist among anti-Communists, a man for whom four cheers is hardly sufficient to praise democratic capitalism. Thus it is no longer enough to denounce the Russian Revolution as The God That Failed, because as noteworthy, as spectacular, as that collection of essays by the likes of Arthur Koestler, Richard Wright, André Gide, and Ignazio Silone was, it did not tell the whole grisly tale. Why, Podhoretz asks, were writers like Max Eastman or Whittaker Chambers (Whittaker Chambers?) not included? Presumably because they would not fit into the chorus of testimony against communism from ex-Communists who had remained in some sense on the Left.

Podhoretz’ point, one he drives toward over and over again, is that liberals have a nasty habit of replacing one dangerous illusion with another:

. . . to reject Communism while trying to hold onto Marxism or socialism in some other form was—and is—intellectually insufficient. It left one in the position of blaming Stalin or Lenin or the special condition of Russia for the perversion or betrayal of the true heritage of Marxian socialism. In this way one remained free to go on believing in the Utopian dreams of a transformed and redeemed world. Anyone under the sway of such Utopian dreams was likely to evade the actual choices presented by reality in the here and now.

The result is a world neatly divided between those who cling to childish things and those with the courage to play hard ball. Podhoretz sees the former under nearly every bed, the latter in the pages of journals like Public Interest, The New Criterion and, of course, Commentary. The ostensible subject of a Podhoretz essay—whether it be the novels of Henry Adams or those of Milan Kundera—becomes less important than the consistent vision, the “editorial position,” if you will, that he brings to them. No matter, for example, that a writer like Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn yearns for the return of a Czarist, and anti-Semitic, Russia; he is right-thinking about Israel (for Podhoretz, the acid—indeed, the only—test of anti-Semitism) and uncompromising about his anti-communism.

On the other hand, Henry Kissinger (whose books Podhoretz much admires: “. . .they have earned a place among the great books of their kind and among the great works of our time.”) makes the fatal flaw of imagining the Soviet Union as simply another nation-state among nation- states, rather than as the “evil empire”:

Kissinger was so good at diplomacy, so great a virtuoso in the negotiating arts, that he may well have come to imagine that he could negotiate anything; and this may have led him into the mistake (which the intellectual in him could reinforce with dazzling rationalizations) of trying to negotiate the nonnegotiable.

As his “Revaluation” of F. R. Leavis suggests, Podhoretz developed his capacity for audacious judgments at the knee of a Master. “The great English novelists,” Leavis once pronounced, as if the mere uttering of the words made it so, “are Jane Austen, George Eliot, Henry James and Joseph Conrad.” By contrast, Podhoretz does his mentor one better by declaring that “If Orwell were alive today, he would be taking his stand with the neoconservatives and against the Left.”

To be sure, Podhoretz has no monopoly on putting self-serving words into the mouth of the safely dead. Shakespeare—about whom we know precious little—has, at one time or another, been claimed by every religious group, every warmonger, every pacifist, every vegetarian, every certified crackpot on both sides of the Atlantic. This is not the case with Orwell. He conducted his education in the public print, which is also to say that he frequently changed his mind. Cull the right quotes, and he becomes a Liberal’s darling; look at him from Podhoretz’ perspective and he turns into a neoconservative.

As is so often with Podhoretz, this is a case of flinging a pebble into a pond and daring nine sages to find it. Orwell is, of course, in no position to argue Podhoretz’ point, and this sage, for one, has no inclination to dive into such murky water. But it is worth pointing out that Orwell has, in effect, become Podhoretz’s doppelganger, the mirror-image of his own disaffection with the intellectual Left Not only would Orwell be a neoconservative today, he was, in fact,

. . . a forerunner of neoconservatism in having been one of the first in a long line of originally left-wing intellectuals who have come to discover more saving and moral wisdom in the instincts and mores of “ordinary” people than in the ideas and attitudes of the intelligentsia.

There was a time when Podhoretz had a penchant for titles that relied heavily on the participle: Doings and Undoing (contemporary literature reduced to a scorecard); Making It (an account, partly confessional, partly celebratory, of how he clawed his way to the editorship of Commentary magazine); Breaking Ranks (the why-and-how he became a neoconservative). In each case, the participle signaled process, a sense of ideas in flux. By contrast, The Bloody Crossroads makes it clear that the long arc of Podhoretz’ career has brought him back, once again, to the Fifties, and to the Cold War that so divided the New York intellectuals. Small wonder that he has so much difficulty reading the novels of Milan Kundera (if they are not anti-Communist tracts, then what, he ponders, are they?) or that his revisionist portrait of Henry Adams takes him to task for his “alienation.”

In short, one can nearly forgive Podhoretz his pontifications, his displeasure with the self-absorption of much contemporary fiction, and the mannered difficulty of much critical theory. But what is one to make of the Podhoretz who opposes federal funding for AIDS research on the ground that this will allow homosexuals to, in Podhoretz’ mean-spirited, words, “bugger themselves with impunity.” We have heard much about how Podhoretz differs from liberals, from democratic socialists, indeed from anyone to the left of center. Perhaps he will use the pages of Commentary magazine to tell us in what ways he differs from, say, a Lyndon LaRouche. Those who miss the issue will, no doubt, be able to catch the essay the next time Podhoretz brings out a collection.

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