Who does Ross Douthat think he is? I don't mean that rhetorically. I mean, given this, and a long history of similar-- why does Ross Douthat sometimes adopt the pose of a disinterested outsider? Douthat complains "But the partisan mind sees what it wants to see." Psst! Ross! You wrote a book about the best way forward for the Republican party! Not conservatism, but the Republican party. You are the definition of a partisan. I expect this sort of thing from Will Wilkinson, the showily independent liberaltarian. Douthat is another matter. Of course, Ross Douthat thinks that the union protesters are the equivalent of the Tea Party; that's precisely what you should expect a partisan Republican to say.
I can only imagine that Douthat is here buying into his own reputation a little too much. You'll have read many, many times how smart and nice Douthat is. He can't hold a candle to the master, of course, but it's a truism that he is smart and nice and reasonable and whatever else fellow. I'm sure he is, too. It's just that this has nothing to do with partisanship, or with being correct on any particular issue, although that fact is always lost in this context, I'm afraid.
I'm never a big fan of when people play politics by pretending not to play.