David French, Sohrab Ahmari, and the Battle for the Future of Conservatism

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from The New Yorker,

Ahmari seems to see Donald Trump as having made a halfway break with the conservatism of the recent past—a conservatism embodied by French—which Ahmari wants to complete.

One evening in early September, the Catholic University of America, in Washington, D.C., hosted a debate between Sohrab Ahmari, the op-ed editor of the New York Post, and David French, a constitutional lawyer and a staff writer for National Review—two writers who represent different possible futures for American conservatism, and who, to add an additional dash of energy, plainly seemed to dislike each other. Via a live stream, representatives of every ideological faction, from the dirtbag left to the chaste Catholic right, followed the conversation intently; in the overflowing auditorium, the moderator, the even-keeled Times columnist Ross Douthat, often looked pained. The fight between Ahmari and French had begun early this summer, when Ahmari published an essay called, with a belligerent tabloid flair, “Against David French-ism,” which swelled into a conflict that Douthat wrote was “a full-employment bill for conservative pundits.” French, an evangelical Christian who blends the language of civil liberties with scriptural admonitions, has an “earnest and insistently polite quality,” Ahmari wrote.

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