Max Boot’s beef isn’t with Russell Kirk or William F. Buckley, Jr.or Jonah Goldberg — it’s with the contrepreneurs, that weird little parasitic class of people who got into conservative activism because it is a relatively easy route to a media career, a good option for people who aren’t clever enough to thrive as lawyers or in possession of hustle enough to sell real estate. They are more prominent in the conservative movement today than they were in, say, 1988 or 1994, partly because of the new populist tenor of the movement and partly because there’s just a lot more media in our faces and it looms larger in the national mind than it once did. For example, Hugh Hewitt was (according to Talkers magazine) the eighth most-listened-to conservative talk-radio host in 2017. Everybody knows who Hugh Hewitt is. Hugh Hewitt is famous. Nobody knew the eighth most-listened-to conservative talk-radio host in 1994.
Every movement has its careers, its charlatans, its scam artists, its kooks, and its dimwits. (I know. I used to be a member of the Libertarian party.) On the right it’s the Obama-is-a-Muslim-from-Kenya gang, on the left it’s . . . do we really need to make that list? Louis Farrakhan. Jen Psaki. Thom Hartmann. The knuckleheads in the black bandanas. Al Sharpton. Melissa Click. A fair number of America’s mayors and Illinois’s governors. Several people named Clinton. That guy who worried that Guam was going to tip over.