Conservatives, especially of the neo variety, tend to be people who have discovered some mistake in their thinking about drugs, marriage, economics or some other societal problem, and changed course. Often their apostasy from the left makes their arguments more cogent.
Liza Mundy may be a neoconservative in the making, but it's doubtful. Mundy, a columnist for The Washington Post Magazine, recently wrote a piece about the wonders of the new, nicer, Giulianified New York. It could have been written by Norman Podhoretz, except for one thing: Mundy failed to acknowledge that liberals had been wrong about New York and crime. Specifically, she had refused to refute an hysterical article that had appeared last June in The Washington Post. It was a column written by, um, Liza Mundy.
First the more recent column. In "A New York State of Mind," Mundy recounts a recent visit to New York with her mother and daughter. She was shocked by what she found there: niceness. Total strangers cooed over her daughter on 5th Ave. and made happy small talk at Beauty and the Beast. A man whom they asked for directions led them to their destination. "Not only is New York safer these days," Mundy wrote, "it's palpably nicer, thanks, I suppose, to the drop in crime and the boom in the economy, large policy-driven events that seem to have transformed the personalities of people who live there."
That "I suppose" is a nice touch.
Mundy is then quickly back on how wonderful the new New York is as compared to nasty, acrid Washington, DC, where Mundy has to deal with strangers who tell her to keep her kid quiet. (Mundy is one of these moms who thinks her kids are divine. Someone should wake her up.)
Mundy also must think that Washington Post readers have very short memories. Last June in her very same space, she launched an attack on Mayor Giuliani that stands as one of the most hysterical ever committed to print. A year before, Giuliani had gone before Congress and explained the concept behind the "broken windows" theory of crime prevention. A crime rate that is the lowest in 40 years implies?as Mundy noted herself?that the approach is working.
In her June column, she explained the broken windows theory?though she left out the crime stats, which might have hurt her argument?then accused Rudy of contributing to social chaos through the collapse of his marriage: "Now, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that we can't be sure, just because Giuliani describes his new nurse-companion, Judi Nathan, as 'a very good friend,' that he committed adultery. But the thing about aggressive policing is that you don't have to be sure. You can just strike on the merest suspicion. Look at Patrick Dorismond, the security guard killed during a marijuana sweep. Look at Amadou Diallo."
Mundy went on: "Now, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking: The man has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, he looks awful. His father died of it, can't we let the infidelity stuff slide? But the thing about aggressive policing is that you can't feel sorry for people. Homeless people might be drug addicts, loiterers might be mentally ill, but that doesn't make them any less threatening to public order."
And on: "And so it is Giuliani himself who proves the validity of his central tenet, showing that when you fool around with a woman not your wife, and you are not put in the stocks, or thrown in jail overnight, then pretty soon you start to feel invincible, to the point where you are marching with a woman not your wife in a St. Patrick's Day parade, and letting yourself be photographed with her, looking all goofy and happy." Mundy then concluded that it was because of such "incremental actions" that Rudy left the race: "Small things matter! If the people who express this view most vehemently would apply it to themselves (did somebody mention Newt Gingrich?), American politics would be as clean and unremarkable as the new, Giulianified Times Square."
Would that be the same Times Square that's now suffused with so much niceness? And how did Mundy know that Times Square is now so "unremarkable" if, as she admits in her more recent piece, she hadn't been there for years? And what about??
Actually, forget it.