David Brooks today:
...John G. Roberts is the face of today's governing conservatism.
Conservatives who came of age in the 1960's did so in an intensely ideological time when it was arduous to be on the right. People from that generation are more likely to have a dissident mentality, to want to storm the ramparts of the liberal establishment, to wade in to vanquish their foes in the war of ideas.
But John Roberts didn't enter Harvard until the fall of 1973. He missed all that sturm und drang, so he lacks, his former colleagues say, the outsider/dissident mentality. By the time he came of age, it was easier for a conservative to be comfortable in mainstream institutions, without feeling embattled or spoiling for a fight....
What the hell is he talking about? Apart from the fact that being a few years too young for Woodstock and the Vietnam War doesn't automatically make right-wingers immune to pugnacious zealotry (Rick Santorum, anyone?), what earthly evidence is there that access to "mainstream institutions" diminishes conservative combativeness in any generation? If that were the case, the Ann Coulter/Dinesh D'Souza generation wouldn't have come of age while Ronald Reagan held the White House and the GOP had the Senate; if that were the case, we wouldn't have had so many young, eager-to-riot GOP staffers in Florida just after the 2000 election, and we wouldn't have Protest Warrior or Ben Shapiro or a million angry young blogging righties today.
Sometimes I think it must have been hell growing up as little Davey Brooks. It's clear what he dreams of for the nation: conservatism and "values" triumphant, with no expressions of discontent, everyone smiling and well behaved around a Norman Rockwell dinner table. He wants us not only to give up on disagreeing with him and his fellow right-wingers but to like it. And he's desperate to believe that the people on his own side have already abandoned belligerence, or will do so any day now.
I imagine Brooks grew up in a stifling family in which disagreement was swiftly suppressed -- but in which the family myth was that everyone got along swimmingly. If I'm right, I really don't want to think about how that myth might have been drilled into little Davey.