The New York Times
has an interesting article on Jpod taking over as editor of Commentary,
cleverly tying it to the 2003 book by Adam Bellow, In Praise of Nepotism
New Commentary Editor Denies Neo-Nepotism
The new appointment puts three generations of Podhoretzes at the magazine, with Norman holding the title of editor at large and his grandson Sam Munson as online editor. Of course, the ancestral streak is not exactly surprising. The Podhoretz, Kagan (Fred, Donald, Robert and Kimberly) and Kristol clans have dominated the movement for 40 years. Theres a family business aspect to the neoconservative enterprise, said Mr. Bellow, whose book In Praise of Nepotism was published in 2003. Such kinship ties are part of a very broad phenomenon across American society; its not really right to single out neoconservatives."
(Here's my review-essay
on Bellow's "In Praise of Nepotism" in The National Interest
The NYT reporter had asked me:
"How is he [JPod] thought of in conservative circles?"
Among conservative intellectuals, John Podhoretz is widely considered proof of the statistical tendency toward regression beneath the mean. The only reason he has a career is because he is, as they say in Little Italy, connected.
As blogger Larry Auster has been pointing out, only one of his many colleagues at National Review Online's group blog, The Corner, has congratulated him on his ascension. On Tuesday morning, Kathryn Jean Lopez ("K-Lo") offered this minimalist salute:
Congrats Are in Order
[Kathryn Jean Lopez
By Friday afternoon, the only further mention of his promotion I've been able to find on The Corner is John Derbyshire's aside in the midst of a long argument with "JPod" over illegal immigration:
"And thanks, JPod, for letting us know that Commentary is to be edited by a guy who thinks "illegal" is "a weasel word." That old rule-of-law stuff is so paleo."
Then she asked:
"Do you think Podhoretz is qualified to be editor of Commentary?"
As a fellow right-wing film critic, I can safely say that making John Podhoretz editor of Commentary would be like making me editor of the American Journal of Human Genetics.
Seriously, the appointment of the buffoonish Pod the Lesser calls attention to a long-term problem: the intellectual decline of neoconservatism. Back in the 1960s, neoconservatism started out, essentially, among social scientists such Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Irving Kristol, Daniel Bell, and James Q. Wilson. They were quantitative analysts, not pundits.
Over the generations, however, that neoconservative emphasis on datacrunching has evaporated. Irving Kristol crunched more numbers on an adding machine that William Kristol has crunched on a personal computer. (Charles Murray is just about the last neoconservative quant jock left.) Along with that decline in analytical rigor has come a shift in focus from domestic policy to foreign policy, with, as we've all seen, unfortunate consequences in Iraq
Yet, putting a TV-trivia obsessive like JPod in charge of Commentary takes the intellectual downfall of the neocons to a whole ... 'nother ... level.