Thank you for your thought provoking comment on Ms. Rubin’s obsession with Sen. Sanders. It led me to think about Ms. Rubin, as a member of The Podhoretz Clan, by marriage. She comes by her support for Biden because he represents the current political middle: defined as the alliance between the New Democrats & the Neo-Cons. Recall that the War Mongering Norman, the head of the Clan, made his literary mark with his ‘Making It’: a monument to his unslakable egotism, wedded to self-promotion:the whole of it devoted to braggadocio on a grand scale.
If Irving Kristol was first generation of the Neo-Cons, Norman is not quite the next generation, but he was a bridge to that next generation.Those City College Trotskyites devolved into Radical Nationalist, and found support across the political spectrum: Henry Jackson, and even the problematic ‘Liberal’ Daniel Patrick Moynihan?
Title: Moynihan and the Neocons
In his biography of Norman Podhoretz, Thomas Jeffers reports that one St. Patrick’s Day — Podhoretz could not recall the year — United States senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan alighted unannounced on his old friend’s Manhattan doorstep to offer an accounting of himself. The precise content of the conversation is unrecorded, but tension over Moynihan’s senatorial record — on policy toward the Soviets especially — was generally understood to have strained the men’s years-long friendship.
Today, more than a generation after that encounter, and more than a decade after the senator’s death, many neoconservatives still want an accounting from Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Their dispositions are at once admiring and aggravated; the intellectual kinship is often celebrated, though sometimes mixed with accusations of ideological betrayal. I was at a recent conference of political scientists, presenting a paper on Moynihan, when one audience member, perfectly pleasant and seemingly admiringly disposed toward the scholar-statesman, exclaimed: “Reagan could have used Moynihan’s help, but he didn’t get it because Moynihan liked being a senator!” The accusation is not uncommon. Neither is the underlying assumption: Moynihan was one of us, but his politics trumped his principles.
Yet the veracity of the charge hinges on to whom the “us” refers. Some tenets of neoconservatism — at least as its “godfather,” Irving Kristol, elucidated it — reasonably describe Moynihan. But Moynihan always rejected “neoconservatism” as a label, and what neoconservatism eventually became, a political movement, never enticed him. He always felt that the goals that he did share with Kristol — what Kristol described as a “conservative welfare state” that rejected the Great Society model, for example, appears to be close to what Moynihan understood to be the ethic of the New Deal — were properly described as liberal.
Ms. Rubin is representative of a coterie of Ultra-Nationalists, who find Mr. Sanders Left-Wing Social Democracy a threat to their particular ‘brand’ of political nihilism, while finding Mr. Biden a companionable fellow traveler.