I’d call them something a little less diplomatic than ‘kept’
We’ve had a wide variety of conservative: the neo-cons, the paleo-cons and most recently the crunchy cons. Have you ever noticed how many of the most prominent conservative voices in America sound more like liberals? I have, and I believe they are in class all their own: they have a special mission and fit a particular profile.
They are what I like to call ‘kept cons.’ They are ‘kept’ by liberals in that kept cons generally work for liberal institutions and seem to fill the role of token conservative; they write conservative columns for national liberal newspapers or appear as conservative hosts or commentators on CNN or MSNBC or CNBC; but they don’t sound all that conservative. You can spot them slamming Sarah Palin or tamping down on the Tea Party. Their usual message is always something like, "I’m a conservative but these other people, these gun owners/southerners/TEA Partiers/Tax Cutters/Randians/Supply-siders/Pro-lifers/Climate Change Deniers/Libertarians/Gun Nuts/ Gold Bugs, etc., are beyond the pale."
The kept conservative’s announced job is to represent the conservative point of view, but their real job is to give the illusion of balance without really challenging any of the core tenets of liberalism. They spend lots of time ‘reinventing’ the Republican Party, and the new invention is always the same: more liberal. They live among liberals, their friends are liberals, and, of course, they are paid by liberals.
They don’t actually have to work for the New York Times Company or NBC Universal. Some of these kept cons work for think tanks funded by conservatives, when they can’t get government work. They might be employed by the American Enterprise Institute where they can collect steady paychecks between gigs working for government, or for campaigns for people who want to run governments, or running lobbying and public relations firms when the GOP is not in power. [...]