[Author’s Alert: Read the whole thing before clicking on the links if you want to avoid spoiling the joke]
My Dear Wormwood,
I note with pleasure that you seem, in most respects, to have hit upon the proper balance between empty (though still plausible) protestations of your conservative bona fides, and the task of undermining anything in the way of genuine conservative principles. Apparently the repeated hammer blows that I have been obliged to strike against your preternaturally thick skull have finally driven home the importance of wearing the mask. Only in this way can we fulfill the desire of our Father Below to convert a conservative renaissance into a mere reformation – the latter, of course, being far easier to manipulate to our own advantage, inasmuch as it involves bureaucracy rather than art, and exalts form over substance.
You have, acting with what appears to be a newly-acquired cunning, frequently injected the word “moderate” into your discussions of conservatism. Well done, indeed. To posit the existence – and to proclaim yourself a champion - of a higher and purer form of the very thing you seek to destroy is an admirable strategy. Take care, however, not to overplay your hand. You want to avoid creating, in the minds of American voters, the idea that you are trying to rally them around an entirely new banner (especially around one which, as we both know, is incapable of sustaining long-term support – for who was ever willing to pledge life and fortune in defense of a splitting of differences?) The goal should always be to preserve the vessel of conservatism intact, while emptying it of its significance.
On the whole, a commendable effort. But having examined the depths of my soul – a task concerning which the time expended can be measured in seconds, withered and desiccated as the thing is – I cannot claim that my admiration is altogether unmixed with disappointment. How is it, for example, that one of the Enemy’s paladins, Robert S. McCain, can mock you mercilessly without eliciting even the slightest scornful bon mot? Surely you can see, dear nephew, how difficult it is for me, under the circumstances, to absolve you of the crime of flashing the white feather. So I exhort you to gird up what, for want of a better word, I shall refer to as your “loins”, and to remember that the mission you have undertaken, while it may require the cultivation in the minds of the gullible and inattentive of an image of “middle-of-the-road reasonableness”, need not deter you from the occasional exercise of ad hominem demagoguery, particularly when such an attack, as in this instance, is directed against an adversary who is now, and forevermore will be, immune to the blandishments of your sophistry.
Your affectionate uncle,
Dear Uncle Screwtape,
Thank you for your kind letter. Your praise has motivated me to return to my files on Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh, whence I have extracted material sufficient for at least three columns, in which I will continue my denunciations of the popular – sorry! populist- currents within the conservative movement.
Dealing with Robert McCain, on the other hand, is tricky business. You see, he has this “Rule 4” that he’s constantly talking about; it involves making enemies to increase one’s blog traffic. If I respond, either directly or indirectly, he’s likely to draw more readers – which means more potential converts to the Enemy’s cause, since, admittedly, all I have to oppose to his logic is a suave style. Besides, he is pretty fierce. I’ll certainly try to “cowboy up”, though.
By the way, uncle, I hope you won’t consider it presumptuous of me to correct you, but the name is Brooks. David Brooks. Not Wormwood.
Your loving nephew,