A SHIFT IN CONVERSATION…. Over at TPM Cafe, Jim Sleeper has a thought-provoking piece.

Two events this month suggest a transition from one conversation about the American republic to another.

The old conversation — often little better than a shouting match or a dance of snarky repartees — is petering out with the passing, at 89, of Irving Kristol, the “godfather” of neo-conservatism.

A different conversation is renewing itself in a voice coming from the center of the old republic, thanks to Nicholas Thompson’s gripping, stirring new book, The Hawk and the Dove. Writing about the half-century-long rivalry and friendship of arms-race “hawk” Paul Nitze and Cold War strategic “dove” George Kennan, Thompson shows that even bitter antagonists can remain friends if they care more about the civic-republican spirit that is the secret of this country’s true strength than they do about themselves or their grand strategies.

Jim’s thoughts on Thompson’s book dovetail nicely with Gregg Herken’s review of The Hawk and the Dove in the new issue of the Monthly.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.