Monday, January 7

Disposable Wipes

Jack Shafer, "Who's afraid of Bill Kristol? The Huffington Post left, but not me." January 3

Bill Kristol, "President Mike Huckabee?" January 7

If being wrong about the war should disqualify Kristol from the Times op-ed page, then Times op-ed veteran and war-supporter Thomas L. Friedman, who was still calling the invasion "one of the noblest things this country has ever attempted abroad" eight months after the fact, should resign his commission. Bill Keller, Times executive editor today but a columnist at the dawn of the war, should pack and leave, too, because he supported the war in February 2003 as a "reluctant hawk." To be completely consistent, let's have the Washington Post sack its editorial page for its Iraq errors and the majorities of both houses of Congress resign.

Good Lord, where do you have to stand to imagine this as some sort of threat? "Oh, please, sir," cries The Huffington Post Left, "do not deprive us of our thrice-weekly Friedman. Perhaps we were too hasty."
Oh, you say, Kristol's journalistic crime is not just that he was wrong about launching the war but that he has been absolutely wrong about every chapter in the war since the shock-and-awe bombs lit up Baghdad. Well, not wrong at every turn. From where I write this afternoon, he looks pretty goddamn prescient about the wisdom of mounting the "surge" and adopting a counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq.

Mr. Shafer, you are seated behind a post.  
Pundits are wrong sometimes and right others. Pundits shouldn't lose or win gigs on the basis of how many of their predictions come true but whether they write interesting copy. Kristol—love him or hate him—writes interesting copy.

First: professionally I'm indifferent to him. Personally, he's a scumbag for, among other things, insisting publicly that he was "too young to be drafted for Vietnam", the sort of detail a "pundit"--the word should frequently be enclosed in quotes, and Kristol is one reason why--should not "get wrong". And when he does it ought to be enough that the question of winning a gig isn't even asked. Otherwise, this country owes an apology to Larry Craig.

Kristol does not write "interesting copy"--not that acolytes of that Rand woman should ever be allowed to engage in literary criticism--and even if he did such is obviously neither required nor even glimpsed that often on the Times Op-Ed pages, unless by "interesting" you mean "offering a close-up view of individual pathologies at work in the national press".

After the last two elections, featuring the well-born George Bush and Al Gore and John Kerry, Americans — even Republicans! — are ready for a likable regular guy. Huckabee seems to be that.

What interesting copy!  
His campaigning in New Hampshire has been impressive. At a Friday night event at New England College in Henniker, he played bass with a local rock band, Mama Kicks. One secular New Hampshire Republican’s reaction: “Gee, he’s not some kind of crazy Christian. He’s an ordinary American.”

Now where to, Mac?
In general, here in New Hampshire he’s emphasized social issues far less than in Iowa (though he doesn’t waffle when asked about them). Instead he’s stressed conservative economic themes, seamlessly (if somewhat inconsistently) weaving together a pitch for limited government with a message that government needs to do more to address the concerns of the struggling middle class. This latter point seems to be resonating, as headlines in local papers announce an increase in the national unemployment rate amid speculation about a coming recession.

That Middle-Class misery our party has created over the last thirty years? Now would be a good time to cash in!
Some Democrats are licking their chops at the prospect of a Huckabee nomination. They shouldn’t be. For one thing, Michael Bloomberg would be tempted to run in the event of an Obama-Huckabee race — and he would most likely take votes primarily from Obama. But whatever Bloomberg does, the fact is that the Republican establishment spent 2007 underestimating Mike Huckabee. If Huckabee does win the nomination, it would be amusing if Democrats made the same mistake in 2008.

Yes, we might have a good chuckle with that with some of the middle class, provided we were forced to share an elevator with them at some point.

Take us home, Jack:
Calling Kristol's addition to the page redundant because David Brooks, a former Weekly Standard-bearer, already works there reveals a lack of familiarity with both men's writings. Brooks is "pro-choice and pro-gay marriage," as Ross Douthat noted three years ago in the National Review. Kristol is neither. Brooks is a journalist first and always has been. Kristol is a political operator. Brooks tries to persuade his readers of his views gently, as if he's a guest in the house. Kristol lives to brawl and make enemies. To him, writing is fighting.

Kristol's been sitting atop a wingnut sinecure masthead for fourteen years, after service as Dan Quayle's Brain (you'd think he'd tell the truth about Nam and lie about that one, wouldn't you?).  Who's he ever been close enough to to brawl with? An artillery barrage is not a "brawl". Neither is smearing shit on someone's windshield in the middle of the night.

Who's Afraid of Bill Kristol? Not me. I think it'll be fun watching him in an environment where he gets fact-checked for once.

(And if he's not David Brooks, why'd he just re-write Brooks' column from three days ago?)


pookapooka said...

testing one TSSSWOOOO one TSSWOOO

jes checking if my Spankin New Google account will enable me to state my usual irrelevancies in Dogburg ... seemed Brooks' irrelevance would be a propos

pookapooka said...

i mean Kristol Mighty, tho Brooks is also a wondrous irrelevance

Kathy said...

The Times already corrected one error Kristol made, in quoting Michelle Malkin. Turns out she didn't write what he claims: it was M. Medved! I can't tell them apart, either.

bjkeefe said...

Nice catch (and comment!), Katherine.

yellojkt said...

I just stand that weaselly grin and his head shaking condescension whenever someone calls him on his horse hockey.

James Stripes said...

The best answer came, not surprisingly, from the best Republican campaigner so far — Mike Huckabee. He began by calmly mentioning his and Obama’s contrasting views on issues from guns to life to same-sex marriage. This served to remind Republicans that these contrasts have been central to G.O.P. success over the last quarter-century, and to suggest that Huckabee could credibly and comfortably make the socially conservative case in an electorally advantageous way.--Bill Kristol

I thought that this passage was interesting copy. Without a name at the top of the page, I might think it had been written by Jon Swift. After all, isn't it abundantly clear from the source of GOP success over the last quarter century why someone like Huckabee should not be allowed even to look at a nuclear weapon trigger, let alone have his finger on one?

Can "the good done by the appointments of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court" possibly be serious. We have every reason to expect that Huckabee will continue the lowering of standards for judicial appointments made commonplace by the Bush administrations (John Roberts was a bit surprising in this regard, although he too often side with the least qualified justices ever appointed [Thomas and Scalia], he at least has some experience prior to nomination)

If Kristol's copy is not interesting and clever satire, then we really should be have the guys in the white suits take a look at him, not give hem a white space to fill in the NYT.

Marion in Savannah said...

Well, as Katherine said, the first time he took the car out of the garage he drove off the road into a ditch by (mis)quoting Our Lady of the Concentration Camps. Need anything else be saie?

Jeff Pruitt said...

My favorite Kristol quote:

"There's been a certain amount of pop sociology in America ... that the Shia can't get along with the Sunni and the Shia in Iraq just want to establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There's almost no evidence of that at all. Iraq's always been very secular."

Nice call. Besides, you can't take anyone seriously if they were known as "Dan Quayle's Brain"

Harry Cheddar said...

Where Kristol adores a minuet,
The Ballet Russes, and crepe suzette, Our Brooksy loves to rock and roll, A hot dog makes him lose control!

What a wild duet!