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But this book does not address its principal concern, power, until Jefferson has accrued some. When it comes to the force that he wielded as a slaveholder, Mr. Meacham finds ways to suggest that thoughts of abolition would have been premature; that it was not uncommon for white heads of households to be waited on by slaves who bore family resemblances to their masters; and that since Jefferson treated slavery as a blind spot, the book can too.[more inside]
If mainstream conservatism is a “philosophically flabby movement,” and I won’t argue that it isn’t, this is not evidence of its success but simply of its exhaustion and lack of imagination. Perhaps conservatism should thrive on loss and defeat, but I see little evidence that the conservative movement in America understands that it has already lost on many fronts. There is an illusion of success that the most recent election has kept alive, but it is a temporary one.As the campaign for the Republican nomination for president gets weirder by the minute, what does it mean to be an American conservative? Daniel Larison and Corey Robin debate the changing nature of conservatism.