I am no longer reading William Kristol’s bullshit in the New York Times. There. I’ve said it.
Now we’ll just see if I stick to it or flinch like I did the last time I played a round of “nut ball” with Pineapple in Big M’s back yard.
Kristol’s latest screed is the brilliantly titled Democrats Should Read Kipling. And by brilliant, I really mean not so much brilliant as, well, insane. He doesn’t so much think anyone should actually read Kipling as simply be impressed as hell that Kristol has, and oh my, didn’t see this one coming, it’s just more proof Democrats can’t govern found in the damnedest of places.
It dropped back on the 18th and I’ve been trying to put something together about it ever since.
But even writing about the article days later pisses me off. On so many levels. That pompous gas bag has never been wrong about anything in his life. That’s what he thinks anyway. That man has probably been wrong, dead wrong, more times than the number of beers I’ve drank. And that, my friends, is really saying something.
A few days have passed, and I see I am not alone.
Not by a long shot.
The truly mystifying thing about William Kristol-cum-NY Times columnist has nothing to with the fact that he’s a serial liar. Or that he writes banal copy. Or even that he is a transparently partisan writer. Nor is it even the mystery of why the Times hired him in the first place. Rather, the true mystery is who Kristol’s audience is — who, precisely, is going to glean insight from his mendacious, banal, partisan and, in a word, awful, columns. I think this week’s installment — which posits that contemporary American domestic politics are best understood in terms of 19th century imperialist rhetoric — might help us shed some light on the subject. While commenting on a George Orwell essay about Rudyard Kipling, Kristol notes that Orwell identified Kipling with “the ruling power and not with the opposition,” which Orwell goes on to describe as the essence of conservatism, something that didn’t really exist anymore in Orwell’s time as he saw it. Kristol doesn’t comment on Orwell’s definition of conservatism. Nor does he comment on the following passage, appearing at the end of the essay in question:
“Kipling sold out to the British governing class, not financially but emotionally. This warped his political judgment, for the British ruling class were not what he imagined, and it led him into abysses of folly and snobbery, but he gained a corresponding advantage from having at least tried to imagine what action and responsibility are like.”
The fact that Kristol would choose this essay as an organizing vehicle for his column is so auspicious that it’s almost eerie. If we take Kristol’s advice at face value — that Democrats should be acting more like Kipling and less like “the opposition” — then he is suggesting that Democrats should sell themselves out emotionally, and let themselves be swept up in “folly and snobbery.” That is, they should start behaving more like William Kristol, who despite this warping, at least has the advantage of imagining “what action and responsibility are like.” Viewed through this prism, Kristol’s natural inclination towards intellectual dishonesty — on full display in the rest of his column, on everything from successful governance to FISA — comes into focus. It’s not that he’s simply a partisan hack or a smug liar, it’s that he feels so comfortable with wielding power that he has never taken any steps to update his worldview. (See this fascinating video clip from Jonathan Schwarz of Kristol debating Daniel Ellsberg shortly after the 2003 Iraq invasion to witness his epistemological intransigence in action.) Kristol’s neoconservatism (or neo-imperialism) is simply a political manifestation of that comfort with power.
Read more: www.prospect.org
Now that is a piece worth reading.
Also take a look at this fine video from C-Span’s March 28, 2003 edition of Washington Journal, infamous Lost Kristol Tapes, over at www.c-spanarchives.org. Now that’s entertainment. I’ve now re-wound Kristol claiming “this will be a two month war” three times. Another gem at 1:39 when a caller asks what will happen if we do not find weapons of mass destruction and the majority of Iraqi civilians resist.
He dances quite well, does he not?
There is a lengthy write-up on that same C-Span episode and more here: Bill Kristol’s Obscure Masterpiece.
Make no mistake: Bill Kristol is an extremely smart fellow with good manners and a likable demeanor. Because he is so smart, it’s all but impossible to believe that he believes many of the things he says and writes. But if one looks for a consistent pattern to Kristol’s perpetual wrongness, it’s not hard to discern. For Kristol is less interested in being correct than in advancing his side’s interests. He’s not a journalist; he’s an apparatchik working undercover as a man of the press.
Read more: www.thenation.com
God bless ’em, I probably won’t be able to help myself. I’ll just have to see what he comes up with next.by