REVIEWSrnA Child’s Garden ofrnNeoconservatismrnby Paul GottfriedrnThe Neoconservative VisionrnFrom the Cold War tornthe Culture Warsrnby Mark GersonrnLanham, Maryland: Madison Books;rn368 pp., $27.95rnNow a law student at Yale University,rnMark Gerson has devoted severalrnyears of his young life to a lucrative task:rngilding the lily for neoconservative patrons.rnAs a contributor to Commentary,rnthe Wall Street journal, and the New Republic,rnhe has spoken out on behalf ofrnthe harmless persuasion and is nowrnabout to bring out an antholog}’ in conjunctionrnwith the present book, The EssentialrnNeoconservative Reader. But hisrncomments on the “neoconservative vision”rnnever move beyond tasteless panegyric,rnand for anyone hoping to find hererneven a modicum of critical insight, Gerson’srnbook can only bring frustration.rnThough organized chronologically, itrnfails to give the slightest hint of motion,rnbeginning and ending at the same point,rnthe glorification of those Zionist ColdrnWar liberals who came to be known asrn”neoconservatives.” Perhaps Gerson isrnimitating the example of Procopius ofrnCaesarea, who left behind a tell-all historyrnabout his imperial patron after havingrnwritten an official chronicle of the warsrnof Justinian; for now, however, we mustrnassume that what we see is what Gersonrnwishes (or is allowed) to reveal.rnWhat value his book has is entirely accidental.rnAfter all, it does carry its nihilrnobstat in the form of blurbs fromrnChristopher DeMuth, Fred Barnes,rnRobert Bork, and David Frum, all truernbelievers who praise this book as “thernmost complete history” and “compellingrnaccount” of their movement. In severalrninstances, however, the received neoconservativernaccount is used to obfuscate arncomplex or embarrassing truth. At leastrnten pages are devoted to stressing thernneoconservative belief in the “free market.”rnGerson credits his group with therninsight that “the plausible alternative tornthe free market” is “a large and powerfulrngovernment in some kind of socialist system.”rnlie also expresses as a foundationalrnneoconservative belief that “affirmativernaction is pernicious” because of itsrnexplicit and implicit support of racial discriminationrnand the “undemocratic wayrnin which it was established.”rnUnfortunately, both positions arerngross overstatements. The neoconservativerndisapproval of affirmative action wasrninstantly suspended when Bill Kristolrnand others at the Weekly Standard camernout in support of presidential hopefulrnColin Powell. This was done because ofrnPowell’s supposed usefulness as a blackrnrole model, despite his open endorsementrnof government-enforced affirmativernaction. Obviously the neoconservatives’rnquest for public favors in Washington,rnwhich would benefit from a Powellrnpresidency, took precedence here overrnwhat Gerson presents as unshakablernprinciple. As for the neoconservative devotionrnto the free market, it is clear thatrnGerson is following his mentors in confusingrncapitalism with the cultivation ofrncorporate executives. Neoconservativesrnhave done the second brilliantly, whilernexpressing support for a “democraticrnwelfare state.” It is surprising (or is it?)rnthat Gerson, who quotes from MichaelrnNovak’s The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism,rndoes not notice the obvious:rnnamely, that Novak and other neoconservativesrnfail to recognize the similaritiesrnbetween “democratic capitalism”rnand social democracy. What they wantrnis a combination of big business and bigrngovernment from which they can jointlyrnbenefit. And so far they have milkedrnboth sides, while managing to enjoyrnjournalistic respectability.rnGerson serves up platitudes about thern”Catholic-Jewish” alliance in his camprnbeing based on “genuine respect for thernother religion.” Moreo’er, “Jewish neoconservativesrngenuinelv like Christianityrnand the Christian neoconservatives genuinelyrnlike Judaism,” even if “theologicalrndifferences do remain.” The only thingrn”genuine” about this observation is itsrnutter silliness. The “Jewish-Catholic alliance”rnto which Gerson refers has littlernto do with theological agreement or disagreement.rnIt is a feudal arrangementrnwhereby influential and well-heeled JewishrnZionist journalists and foundationrnmavens deputize, among others, pliantrngoyim to front for them. There is somerntheological dialogue that goes on intermittentlyrnin the pages of that quirky littlernnewsletter First Things, where RichardrnNeuhaus incessantly repudiates anti-rnSemitism while David Novak stresses thernnonnegotiable differences between usrnand them. But such exchanges are notrnthe most significant feature of the “Jewish-rnCatholic alliance” to which Gersonrnalludes. Nor is the defense of “Judeo-rnChristian values,” an activity that almostrnall Jewish organizations lament as arnChristian conspiracy to control thernAmerican state. It is also clear that Gersonrnhas not read back issues of Commentary,rnwhich feature multiple tiradesrnagainst the irrational and anti-Semiticrnsources of Christianitv. I cite as cases inrnpoint the voluminous attacks on thern”Crucifixion myth” and the PaulinernEpistles, published in Commentary inrnthe eariy 1980’s. But the crucial pointrnhere is that Gerson is misdescribing arnpower relationship. Jews and Catholicsrnwho are financially and professionally dependentrnon neoconservative leadershiprndo and say what they are told. Theyrnpraise movement supporters and thosernwho take ultranationalist positions on Israelirnpolitics as pro-democratic and philo-rnSemitic; they also anathematize thosernon the other side as racist, anti-Semitic,rnor whatever other smear will play wellrnwith their journalistic colleagues.rnFinally, it might be useful to note Gerson’srnaccount of the thunderous rupturernbetween Richard Neuhaus and ThernRockford Institute, which began the latestrnphase of the American conservativernwars. Since Gerson’s received version isrnput up against my own, it behooves mernto defend my account, which is attributedrnto a “paleoconservative promoter.”rnUnlike Gerson’s version, which ascribesrnthe break to Neuhaus’s anguished responsernto anti-Semitism, my own explanationrnin The Conservative Movementrn(second edition) stresses the irrepressiblernconflict between opposed worldviews.rnThough The Rockford Institute hasrnshown absolutely no sign of anti-rnSemitism, it does present a deeply tradi-rn26/CHRONICLESrnrnrn