During his college years at Harvard, Douthat was a prolific writer. He was a columnist for The Harvard Crimson, the university’s daily newspaper, and climbed to the rank of president of the conservative Harvard Salient in 2001.
One of the appeals of Douthat’s new perch, at least for progressives, is that he will not hew as closely to conservative orthodoxy as did his predecessor, Kristol. But Douthat’s college writing shows that, when it came to conservatism’s “meat-and-potatoes” issues, he was far from a maverick. In fact, when opining on the “culture war” and, after September 11, terrorism, he held predictably boilerplate conservative views. While Douthat has certainly produced more recent work that allows his ideology to speak for itself, it’s nonetheless useful to see where he stood at a pivotal point in American politics.
Douthat on culture:
“There is a tendency among ’90s conservatives to adopt a bunker mentality, to insist that the forces of moral degeneration are winning the culture war and that the apocalypse is imminent. But there is a wider world out beyond the Charles and Sunset Boulevard, a place where as many people go to church as did in the halcyon 1950s, a place where everyone owns a gun and ‘conservative’ is not a dirty word. It is a place with its problems, including a debased popular culture and a distressing tendency to elect men like Bill Clinton. But it is not the conservative-hating Gomorrah that some right-wingers like to imagine.”