Ramesh and Moi

Here's the attempt by Ramesh Ponnuru to burnish his own conservative credentials by slighting mine:

"While Sullivan loves to write about his allegedly consistent record of opposing big government, such opposition was not at all a major theme of his writing in the 1990s. When most conservative writers fought the Clinton health plan in 1993 and 1994; when they cheered Newt Gingrich in his efforts to cut federal spending in 1995 and 1996; when they opposed the budget deal of 1997 for its spending increases; when they tried to stop the creation of the new entitlement for children's health care; when they protested the efforts to regulate cigarettes and campaign finance: Sullivan had almost nothing to say. (Except when he came out for campaign-finance "reform.") But he now pretends that those of us who did say something at that time have less sterling records than he does."

Touched a nerve, did I? Well, for around six of the years in the 1990s, I was editing a liberal magazine. Nonetheless, I was not exactly famous for maintaining liberal orthodoxy in its pages. One of the articles I published was by Elizabeth McCaughey - an article many said did more to destroy Hillary-Care than any other piece of journalism. I can reassure Ramesh that I was not beloved by my colleagues for the piece. At TNR, I also edited many essays that pursued conservative ideas - including welfare reform, where TNR played a critical role (thanks, largely, to Mickey), intervention in the Balkans (thanks to Leon), opposition to affirmative action (me and Marty), defense of Israel (all of us), and, of course, the Bell Curve (me). Not exactly a liberal pedigree. My own writing focused more on cultural issues, but were consistently small-government conservative: for a balanced budget, against hate crimes laws, against outing, against identity politics, and for marriage. I even came out against job discrimination laws for homosexuals. Unlike Ramesh, I actually risked something for my conservative ideals - friends and some colleagues, estrangement from the gay establishment, and even my job - which is partly why, perhaps, I am more appalled by the Republicans' betrayal of conservatism than he seems to be. I endorsed Bob Dole in 1996, for Pete's sake. I was withering in my critique of Clinton, but stopped short of supporting impeachment. As for big government, I was thrilled by the 1990s, which did indeed see reduced government spending - and even surpluses! I can't see how I have moved much at all. But the Republicans have. In the 1990s, they were taken over by religious fundamentalists. The Bush administration is the consequence.