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Episode 61 – Untangling Neoconservatism with Matthew Continetti

Saving Elephants | Millennials defending & expressing conservative values

Release Date: 06/16/2020

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Today the term “neocon” is often used to depict someone as war hawkish or part of “The Establishment”.  And it’s often used as a pejorative.  To call someone a neocon is to imply they are part of the problem, unsympathetic to the plight of the average Joe, and, quite possibly, evil.

Neocon is, of course, short for “neoconservative”.  But what is neoconservatism?  Is it simply a group of elitist gloooobalists on the Right who profit from the status quo and ever-increasing military ventures at the expense of the rest of us?  And who is a neocon?  Politicians ranging from George W. Bush to John McCain to Hillary Clinton have all been labeled neocon.  Is it a label without any meaningful distinction?

Saving Elephants host Josh Lewis is joined by Matthew Continetti to untangle this often misused, misunderstood, and definitely underappreciated term.  Josh and Matthew talk through the three iterations or waves of neoconservatism from the godfather of the movement—Irving Kristol—in the 1960s to the conservative responses to the Vietnam War to the post-Cold War iteration with Irving’s son Bill Kristol on to today, and what this historical tradition can tell us about our own political dilemmas.

From Continetti’s bio with AEI:

Matthew Continetti holds a BA in history from Columbia University and is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where his work is focused on American political thought and history, with a particular focus on the development of the Republican Party and the American conservative movement in the 20th century.  A prominent journalist, analyst, author, and intellectual historian of the right, Mr. Continetti was the founding editor and the editor-in-chief of The Washington Free Beacon.  Previously, he was opinion editor at The Weekly Standard.

Mr. Continetti is also a contributing editor at National Review and a columnist for Commentary Magazine.  He has been published in The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, among other outlets.  He also appears frequently on Fox News Channel’s “Special Report” with Bret Baier and MSNBC’s “Meet the Press Daily” with Chuck Todd.

Mr. Continetti is the author of two books: “The Persecution of Sarah Palin: How the Elite Media Tried to Bring Down a Rising Star” (Sentinel, 2009) and “The K Street Gang: The Rise and Fall of the Republican Machine” (Doubleday, 2006).

You can find Matthew Continetti on Twitter @continetti.