I’d echo much of what Larison says here:

I begin to understand that their complaints were veiled pleas for acceptance.  As I have watched Palinites enthuse about their Joan of Arc, it has occurred to me that they want nothing more than validation for their way of life; criticism of Palin wounds them because they think it is a judgement on how they live.  Likewise, secular conservatives wish to be accepted and validated by their religious confreres.  Even Andrew’s often overwrought and ultimately misguided complaints about so-called “Christianism” are at bottom arguments in favor of the proposition that is is possible to be conservative but critical of religion in politics.

As an irreligious but non-secularist righty I found it a bit odd that people like Sager were ranting about the power of religious conservatives in the GOP that had delivered jack squat to them. Perhaps if I did feel the glow of the Holy Spirit I’d be more sympathetic to Andrew Sullivan. I still regard much of it as just the same silly Dougherty Doctrine (and for the record I don’t think my preferred policies or politics are or would be popular) but I suppose I should have had understood that they’d be pushed to feel that way.

I’d also like to add (I forget if it’s to Schwenkler or Larison) that it’s not merely metropolitan intellectual elites but middle class suburbanites that have been increasingly alienated. I don’t just say that because of my previously expressed fondness for the suburbs but because that’s where the modal American lives and they once served as a synechdoche for the right-wing vote.

A good response to Brooks not linked from Larison & friends is this one at Volokh that I just updated my “political myths and realities” entry with.