Buzzfeed’s editor in chief Ben Smith would like you to believe that these two approaches define the conservative movement’s divide over foreign policy. The fellow with the vodka bong is what Smith dubs a “freedom conservative,” and his opposite is a “liberty conservative.” This is supposed to be some kind of act of linguistic magnanimity from our good editor — hey, it’s better than ‘teabaggers’ versus ‘warmongers,’ right?
Smith is right that the terms with which the media talks about the right are muddy and often poorly applied. But when he tries to limn the intellectual roots of his new categories, he ends up basically describing the Old Right and the neoconservative movement; the former forged in opposition to the New Deal, and the latter from FDR supporters who were “mugged by reality” (he leaves out their Trotskyite dalliances). This is rather curious, isn’t it? There was once a time when journalists would look into the roots of ideas and attempt to explain how they carry on to today; in the Buzzfeed era, just make an arbitrary distinction we don’t really understand, name both sides something inoffensive, and pretend it’s a paradigm shift.
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