Jonah Goldberg performs the operation on Andrew Sullivans new book. Heres the conclusion:
Sullivan turns Oakeshott’s reverence for tradition and custom on its head: He enthrones the all-justifying righteousness of conscience, in particular his own, in a moral pragmatism that says that orthodoxies have no binding authority. Pragmatism was built on the arrogance of intellectuals who believed they were smarter than anyone who lived before; Sullivan’s divinization of conscience performs a similar task, with similar vanity. He dedicates page after page to illuminating the grandest mysteries of existence with the only lantern Sullivan trusts: his own conscience. Without this, we would all be lost. Indeed, he seems to believe that his own intense internal struggles (Sullivan always wins these fights, by the way) are mirrored in the struggles of the Republican party — indeed, the nation itself. The cover of the book depicts two elephants tied at the tail, presumably fighting for the soul of conservatism. This is, among other things, evidence of an enormous category error in which Sullivan endeavors to make the conservative temperament the foundation of a political program.
And it is here that the mansion of nonsense most obviously implodes. The notion that certainty is at odds with a just constitutional order, decency, and All Good Things founders on Sullivan’s own hypocrisy. Not only is it a Monty Pythonesque absurdity to imagine a serious political movement founded on such bumper-sticker slogans as “We’re not sure!” and “Hey, hey, ho, ho, certainty has got to go!” Sullivan himself proves that a politics based solely on one’s own glorious conscience is just as capable of the sort of rigid, moralistic, self-righteous preening and us-versus-them logic that Sullivan’s conservatism of doubt claims to stand against.
Of course, you shouldnt just take Goldbergs word for it. You should read the book, especially if you can find a way of doing so without lining ASs pockets. (I have to confess that I actually purchased it, and am somewhere close to halfway through the thing. AS is a gifted polemicist, but surely not the fairest expositor of positions with which he disagrees.)