I think Millman’s analysis has a lot to recommend to it. “Calcification” is the right word for what happened to neoconservatism after the Cold War. It is observable in how persistently the challenges posed by September 11 were forced into familiar Cold War-style categories. Everything would be a lot easier if our enemies consisted of a faction of ideologues driven by political propositions and quite distinct from the peaceful religion of Islam. What effort wasted in such polemics! The idea of religious war was just not something these folks were prepared to consider. But when an organized faction of determined men is making religious war on you, you’re in a religious war.
A related point could be made of the neoconservative enthusiasm for universals at the expense of particulars. Steve Sailer (I think) used to make the point that the Kristols hardly ever left New York and DC; they espoused a “patriotic” foreign policy based on prudence; but it is an open question how much real connection they had to the object of patriotic love: namely, the American people in all their wild variety.
By way of contrast, I might be inclined to offer Bob Dylan. I’m quite serious — whatever the man’s actual political views, there can be no doubt that Dylan has drunk deep and long of American culture, both high and low; that he loves and cherishes it, and has done is damnedest to preserve it.