Nicholas Goldberg: Is Kevin de León toast?
In the last few weeks, Kevin de León has been the darling of the right-wing right in America. He’s been on Fox News, the host of a book club show where conservative writers and thinkers come, and he’s been invited to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference, where he has been embraced and lionized like a rock star. He’s won the support of conservative journalists like David Horowitz and Sarah Kliff, and he’s appeared on the National Review and National Review Live. His new book — The Young and the Restless: How Politics and Media Brought You This Far — has been nominated for a National Book Award. It’s hard to miss the attention he’s getting.
But the bigger question is, what is happening when Kevin de León, the guy whose campaign was dismissed as “de León-lite,” and who was the darling of the conservative media, suddenly finds himself going after the most popular conservative in the country? What does it mean if he isn’t just a flash in the pan. Or is he?
I first got to know Kevin in the early 1990s. He’d built a career as a columnist with the San Francisco Examiner and a columnist with National Review, and was a frequent contributor to the Weekly Standard and the National Review Online. He was also a regular guest on the Fox News Channel and has been a frequent guest on Fox & Friends since the early 2000s.
Kevin is a man who has spent the past 10 years trying to correct what some might consider the mistakes of his past, what’s going on in his own party. He’s been trying to change some of the basic assumptions under which the conservative movement operates.
When I first met him he was trying to move beyond the idea of the GOP as a collection of small, rural, and racist redneck states and the idea of the Republican Party as a collection of small, rural, and racist redneck states. He was trying to move past the ideas that have defined the right-wing movement for decades, and instead trying to create a movement built around