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Bill Kristol, II

September 29, 2008 Leave a comment

Earlier today, I wrote about Bill Kristol’s column in today’s New York Times. The New Yorker’s George Packer, in light of the column and today’s defeat of the bailout, writes, “I’ll always think of September 29, 2008, as the day the conservative movement brought down the institutions.” After reviewing Kristol’s column, Packer observes:

When a party, a movement, and its shills unravel, the panic leaves behind a pretty bad smell. Kristol, born with an impressive pedigree, long ago sacrificed his intellectual independence to the Republican Party. His career is a cautionary tale of the mental corruption that comes with political power, and it has degenerated alongside the conservative movement for which he’s been a tireless publicist.

And after reviewing the defeat of the bailout, Packer concludes:

Watch Kristol forget that he just told McCain to take credit for getting the bill passed; watch McCain and Palin claim to have killed it on behalf of the outraged taxpayers. However low you bend, you won’t find a standard of truthfulness with this ticket and its backers. The Kristol Plan is the triumph of tactics over everything. It takes years and years spent writing propaganda to achieve that kind of purity.

Meanwhile, it’s left to a relatively young black man, charged by his opponents with being a radical, a liberal, a community organizer, a Muslim, and the anti-Christ, to save the establishment on Wall Street and in Washington.

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Categories: Politics, Today's News

Bill Kristol

September 29, 2008 Leave a comment

In his New York Times column today, Bill Kristol describes McCain as “on course to lose the presidential election” and lays out the path McCain should take to “turn it around, and surge to victory.” His advice includes the following step:

In the debate, Palin has to dispatch quickly any queries about herself, and confidently assert that of course she’s qualified to be vice president. She should spend her time making the case for McCain and, more important, the case against Obama. As one shrewd McCain supporter told me, “Every minute she spends not telling the American people something that makes them less well disposed to Obama is a minute wasted.”

I try to take Kristol seriously. I really do. But I just don’t get him. Suppose Palin does “confidently assert that of course she’s qualified to be vice president.” Does that make it so? Should we accept her at her word and ignore all the competing evidence? If she makes the desired assertion and then goes on the attack, would this prove that she is prepared for the job?

Kristol is a college classmate of mine. I didn’t know him when we were in college, but I did hear him speak in October 2003 at our 30th reunion (on a panel with fellow classmates E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post and Benazir Bhutto), and I was convinced that he’s a smart guy, even a thoughtful one. Why is so much of what he writes and says publicly not so thoughtful? Perhaps the explanation was provided this morning by Andrew Sullivan, who wrote, “He has long since stopped thinking about ideas and reality, focusing on short-term tactics and marketing for his company brand, the GOP.”

Categories: Politics

McCain-Obama, II: Kissinger

September 29, 2008 Leave a comment

Much has been written since the first McCain-Obama debate Friday night about which of the two candidates more accurately quoted Henry Kissinger on the conditions appropriate for holding talks with world leaders. I thought it most unfortunate that Obama shared the desire of McCain and Palin to have Kissinger’s blessing.

Christopher Hitchins has addressed the issue well in Slate. I’ll pass over the details and skip to his conclusion:

But the true farce and disgrace is that this increasingly glassy-eyed old blunderer and war criminal, who has been wrong on everything since he first authorized illicit wiretapping for the Nixon gang, should be cited as an authority by either nominee, let alone by both of them. … the debate would look more intelligent, and be conducted on a higher plane, if it excluded a discredited pseudo-expert who has trampled on human rights, vandalized the U.S. Constitution, deceived Congress, left a trail of disaster and dictatorship behind him, and deserves to be called not a hawk or a dove but a vulture.

Categories: Politics