THE PLANK JULY 11, 2008
Conservative book editor Adam Bellow has a (subscriber-only) essay in World Affairs about book publishing and the cuurrent state of conservative intellectuals. I don't agree with all that much of it, but his candor is admirable. At one point he responds at length to Andrew Sullivan's accusation that Bellow-published books "Liberal Fascism" by Jonah Goldberg and "The Enemy at Home" by Dinesh D'Souza" were "shrill, obnoxious partisan screeds."
I bridled at Andrew’s suggestion that I was somehow responsible for this. Who had appointed me the custodian of intellectual standards on the right? I wasn’t sitting in some think tank cogitating policy initiatives for the GOP. I was a commercial book editor, and I did what I had to do to remain competitive in a highly challenging environment. I couldn’t afford to be squeamish.Moreover, why the double standard? I didn’t hear Andrew attacking the editor of Michael Moore’s atrocious books, or Noam Chomsky’s editor, or the editors of the recent hysterical volumes by Chris Hedges and Naomi Wolf warning that we are in the midst of a fascist takeover.
Yeah! Why isn't anybody complaining about the other side's atrocious books? Bellow goes on to claim that, despite their "outrageous on its face" arguments, both Goldberg and D'Souza's books are serious works. But he concludes, "I reserve the right to stoop and pander when it suits me." I don't think this is the defense Goldberg and D'Souza wanted their publisher to be making.