James Warren recalls the good old days of intelligent conservatism. what he doesn't say, understandably, is that, as neoconservatism became a dogma, and support for general common sense morphed into the loopiest fundamentalism and know-nothing populsim, Kristol retained his Trotskyite political sense. No enemies to the right was his motto. Beck's ignorant, know-nothing, populist bile is the tiger neoconservatism rode. And you cannot write a history of neoconservatism without understanding that it became corrupt, cynical and so divorced form the reality it once championed that it unraveled itself. Bruce Bartlett has a good take, as usual, on the decline of the right under Irving's son Bill:
There is still a need for serious conservative social science research that has no other publication outlet. Commentary is now just a highbrow version of National Review, which is just a glossy version of Human Events, which has become a slightly less hysterical version of nutty websites like WorldNetDaily. The Wall Street Journal editorial page and the Weekly Standard, founded by Kristol's son Bill, just parrot the Republican Party line of the day. The intellectual bankruptcy of conservatism today is even greater than it was when Irving Kristol founded The Public Interest in 1965. What passes for a conservative movement these days wears its anti-intellectualism as a badge of honor.
My own interactions with Kristol and his wife were always cordial; he was a gentleman and a sharp mind. In the end, he surrendered the worst elements of Republican foreign adventurism and fiscal insanity. But, unlike with his son, there was once a core of intellectual courage and independence.