Home / General / Finally, a book by somebody who became a reactionary crank when they got older and wealthier

Finally, a book by somebody who became a reactionary crank when they got older and wealthier

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In our history-of-the-blogosphere podcast with Mickey Kaus, he concluded with a lengthy endorsement of Nellie Bowles’s blog at the Free Bari. I took this as dispositive evidence that this once-entertaining writer had turned into the kind of generic conservative hack who calls herself a “classical liberal” or something. She apparently has written the 100,000th book about how the Party Left Me, an event that would not be worthy of notice except that it attracted the attention of the great literary critic Becca Rothfeld. I would like all of this injected into my veins immediately:

None among them is more exemplary in the flat hackishness of her delivery than Nellie Bowles. Her new book, “Morning After the Revolution: Dispatches From the Wrong Side of History,” is a kind of ideological autobiography, tracking her development from bratty liberal to freethinking what-about-er. It begins with her origin story. Bowles was once “a successful young reporter at the New York Times, a New Progressive doing the only job she had ever wanted.” She gleefully toed the party line, canceling wrong-thinking colleagues and basking in her righteousness. “When Hillary Clinton was about to win,” she recalls, “I was drinking I’m With Her-icanes at a drag bar.” Then, she fell in love with former Timesopinion editor and writer Bari Weiss, to whom she is now married. Bowles grandiosely characterizes Weiss as a “known liberal dissident,” as if she were a renegade in a Soviet prison — not a canny businesswoman who left the Times vocally but voluntarily in 2020 so as to earn a purported $800,000 from an aggrieved newsletter the following year.

In the gulag that is life after the New York Times, the pair founded the Free Press, an outlet that designates itself as a stronghold of “fierce independence” and that specializes in sneering at the alleged excesses of progressivism. (“Camping Out at Columbia’s Communist Coachella,” reads a representative headline about a student protest that has since been disbanded by swarms of police in full riot gear — not the sort of characters usually in attendance at a music festival.) With Weiss’s help, Bowles suggests, she abandoned her youthful follies and entered true adulthood.

I’m going to stop excerpting here because there’s a gift link and it’s all pure gold — not just about this particular imminent guest of Barnes & Noble remainder tables but the entire exhausted genre. It will tide you over until three days from now when somebody else who gets CANCELLED [quit because decided they wanted to make more money to do less work and the supply of rubes who will pay to read you complain about wokeness is apparently endless] publishes the same book again.

…Anthony in comments observes that “[n]obody ever says “I took a look at Mississippi and that’s when I realized conservatism delivers better results,” it’s always theater criticism. This reminds me of this Douthat Comedy Classic:

If Alabama and Mississippi aren’t the best advertisements for the pro-life vision, neither are Seattle and San Francisco necessarily brilliant advertisements for where uncut social liberalism ends up.

I accept the terms of debate!

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