“How the Claremont Institute Became a Nerve Center of the American Right”
Was this coordinated or just a case of groupthink?
Josh Hammer writes at the American Spectator:
Why Is Everyone Talking About the Claremont Institute?
On Wednesday, Elisabeth Zerofsky of the New York Times Magazine published a lengthy essay titled “How the Claremont Institute Became a Nerve Center of the American Right.” Zerofsky’s piece was well-researched, honest, and measured, but the same cannot necessarily be said for other recent fulminations against the California-based conservative think tank. Less than two weeks ago, the Washington Post published one such sordid entry, disproportionately focused on the Jan. 6, 2021, jamboree at the U.S. Capitol, titled “The Claremont Institute triumphed in the Trump years. Then came Jan. 6.”
Other examples abound. Last fall, Emma Green of the Atlantic published a moderately fair interview with Claremont Institute President Ryan Williams, provocatively titled “The Conservatives Dreading—and Preparing For—Civil War.” The New Republic reserved much digital ink for Claremont in a long essay last year on “The Radical Young Intellectuals Who Want to Take Over the American Right.” And the Bulwark, a fetid swamp of Never-Trump histrionics, has published multiple hit pieces that make the Post’s salvo look downright temperate by comparison.
So familiar has this refrain become that I sarcastically tweeted, following the Post’s recent excretion, “Ah, it’s time for another rendition of the ‘anti-Claremont hit piece,’ the most overwrought and oversaturated sub-genre in the leftist literary arsenal.” But with blue-blooded newspapers such as the Post and the Times now joining the fray, it seems that long-form essays inveighing against Claremont have reached a fever pitch.
This raises the obvious question: Why? Why is everyone, from seldom-read Never-Trump blogs to the New York Times and the Washington Post themselves, now talking about the Claremont Institute?
To an extent, perhaps the better question is why is everyone — and the corporate press, specifically — only now talking about Claremont? The think tank, for many decades, has held real sway in America’s right-wing intellectual firmament. It has been around for long enough that many prominent alumni from its fellowship programs have reached the pinnacles of their professions; Claremont’s alumni ranks include national television and radio hosts, a sitting U.S. senator, numerous federal judges, and many other notable conservative activists. Its flagship publication, the cerebral Claremont Review of Books (CRB), has existed for over two decades.
But Claremont clearly has made gains in stature, clout, and the depth and breadth of its institutional reach over the past half-decade or so. From an intellectual perspective, this is attributable to the fact that many leading “Claremonsters” — Claremont enthusiasts — have been, and continue to be, defenders of former President Donald Trump and/or proponents of the sort of nationalist and conservative-populist policies that now anchor the “New Right” challenge to the conservative establishment’s regnant right-liberal “fusionism.”
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