Wilfred M. McClay, "Godfather," Commentary, February 1996. (A review of Neoconservatism: The Autobiography of an Idea by Irving Kristol.)


Perhaps, then, there is another sense in which Kristol deserves the appellation of “godfather.” Ever since the appearance of Mario Puzo’s book of that title, there has been a tendency to think of a godfather as nothing but a power broker. But in the word’s original meaning, a godfather is one who sponsors a child at baptism and thereafter is expected to take a leading role in his spiritual instruction within the community of faith. To be sure, there is something odd in crediting this “neo-orthodox,” nonobservant Jew with a status so closely associated with Christian practice. But Kristol may have turned out to be just the right kind of godfather for an intellectual and political movement, neo-conservatism, that began its life without much regard for spiritual things.

Commentary Magazine