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May 11, 2008


Rick Perlstein

Thanks so kindly for these very thoughtful notes. The review was indeed deeply confused--as well as inaccurate: he says there were no tanks at Kent State; I have beside me a picture of a tank at Kent State. I missed the "perils of identity politics" nonsense. That's a lulu!

The fascinating thing is that I think I'm a better critic of liberal condescension in the 1960s and '70s than he is. It's just that--there's no way to sustain the argument that liberals are condescending now in anything like the way they were then (when Reagan's campaign for governor began, Esquire said there was "rejoicing at Lassie for President headquarters"--can you imagine such patronization now?). But in the end, the reified "liberals are condescending" trope is the only way a conservative like Will knows how to talk about liberals; whatever the actual facts on the ground, he's still stuck in the frame bequeathed to us by Nixon--which, of course, is the point of the book, which he admirable reinforced.

John Mooney

Rick, thanks for your note, and I look forward to reading the book. You should post the picture of the tank at Kent State somewhere!

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