Sam Tanenhaus's 6,300-word cover story for the New York Times' Sunday Magazine, "Can the G.O.P. Be a Party of Ideas?" is marinated in the same superior smugness that distorted his 2009 hit-piece book on the conservative movement.
Tanenhaus, currently a "writer-at-large" for the Times, is still hailed in liberal circles as an expert on the conservative movement, even though his slim, slanted 2009 book The Death of Conservatism (talk about wishful thinking) proved rather ill-timed, coming as it did before the Tea Party resurgence. The book ludicrously labeled President Obama a centrist in a long line of Democratic centrists, including ... George McGovern, Walter Mondale, and Michael Dukakis. Tanenhaus also likened the conservative movement to "the exhumed figures of Pompeii, trapped in postures of frozen flight, clenched in the rigor mortis of a defunct ideology." So when the Times wants an "objective" view of the conservative movement, it's obvious Tanenhaus is the guy to provide it.
So-called reform conservatives such as David Frum, Michael Gerson, and Ramesh Ponnuru often get relatively favorable attention from liberal journalists -- relative, that is, to Tea Party types, which in turn reinforces the Tea Party's belief that the reformers aren't really conservatives.
Two lefty pundits recently examined the state of reform conservatism. Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne penned an article for the spring issue of the quarterly Democracy in which he analyzed the work of certain reformers and discussed how they might pull the Republican party toward the center. He also denounced the GOP's current message discipline in the service of its supposedly extremist agenda -- or, as Dionne put it, "the right’s version of political correctness."