The medieval liberal is certainly self-righteous and pious. Suggest to him that more timber could be harvested in our forests rather than left to burn, and he may become irate: You are a tree killer who would slash the wilderness. Politely point out that fracking and horizontal drilling might lower power and fuel costs, provide millions of new jobs, and jump-start the economy, and you are subverting all that the environmental movement has worked for. Inquire whether cutting taxes and regulation might entice job-creating firms back to California, and he sneers that you are a Rick Perry smokestack Neanderthal. Ask whether we could close the border and work with aliens already here through classical modes of integration, assimilation, and intermarriage, and he snickers that you are too white, too old, and too few, as if uttering that statement provides exemption and ensures that he is not and will never be too anything.

He is worried that banks and businesses are not sufficiently racially diverse, rarely that progressive magazines and the White House staff are mostly white and male, apparently because they are the good white and male — a sort of self-determined affirmative-action category.

The medieval liberal could not imagine himself the materialist and reactionary that he most certainly is, wedded to Detroit and Chicago nostrums of big government, high taxes, increased entitlements, tyrannical unions, racial condescension, and apartheid — and in pursuance of the metrosexual good life.

As recompense, he is not just liberal, but liberally hip and cool. The zillionaire wears jeans to his Mountain View work cockpit; at Starbucks, who can distinguish the scruffy billionaire from the unemployed? The high priest of the educational technocracy has $10,000 worth of cutting-edge hiking boots, tents, sleeping bags, and camping appurtenances. The muckraking journalist can nonetheless write a thesis on the comparative advantages of iPhones and their epigones, and in his 50s he listens to Jay-Z and Beyoncé as well as Springsteen and the Dead. Cool and privilege are the two hallmarks of the contemporary medieval liberal, sort of like the obese friar with a neat tonsure.