CPAC Diary: Can David Brooks's Favorite Young Republican Thinker Survive?

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 15 2013 6:00 PM

CPAC Diary: Can David Brooks's Favorite Young Republican Thinker Survive?

"Nutpicking" is a popular term for a certain kind of journalism: Looking for the goofiest people at an event and portraying them as representative. I noticed plenty of this at CPAC, as when I spent three minutes catching up with a Tea Partier wearing revoluntionary war re-enactment clothes and saw four photographers swoop in and out.

So I experimented with the opposite of nutpicking. I tagged along for a whole day with Derek Khanna, a 25-year old Republican intellectual (if the term isn't too loaded) who's credited with writing far-reaching policy memos on copyright law and drones, and then getting laid off.

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The piece ends with some accidental foreshadowing. The panel Khanna refers to at the end was heavily stacked against his ideas. He showed up, and even though he wasn't on the panel, he was invited to debate everyone. He heard six panelists make the basic argument that piracy is bad, and came up with this hook.

"Who here agrees that terrorism is bad?" (Show of hands.) "Okay. Who thinks the TSA's current policies are the only way to fight terrorism?"

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.