"Neoconservative" was originally a label applied to newly conservative ex-liberals and Irving Kristol, the late godfather of the movement, was among the first and finest of the kind, E. J. Dionne writes in the Washington Post. Kristol made a powerful case for "pragmatic liberalist" when he was still a moderate Democrat in the '60s, Dionne writes, before being pushed to the right by the New Left and the "counterculture’s attack on bourgeois values."
The neocons, fearing a "moral crisis" would sweep America, felt the need to defend "bourgeois morality" towards end of the '60s, Dionne writes, and this explains Kristol's shift to the right over the last 40 years. "I think that pragmatic liberalism still has a lot of life in it, even if Kristol eventually found his own political bearings elsewhere," Dionne writes. "He was a smart man with a delightful manner, and I mourn his passing." (Read more Irving Kristol stories.)