where William Kristol has been for the last while. In today’s New York Times he writes,
But is the ignorant crowd really our problem today? Are populism and anti-intellectualism rampant in the land? Does the common man too thoroughly dominate our national life? I don’t think so.
I didn’t think he thought so. But who’s been sitting in the Oval Office for the past eight years, and what’s with all the winking? Worth noting that his column is a reply to Peggy Noonan’s of last week (which I wrote about here), and also that Mr. Kristol is prominently featured as one of the Washington Insiders in Jane Mayer’s new New Yorker essay on Sarah Palin (which I wrote about here). Here’s a bit more from the essay,
By the time the Weekly Standard pundits [including William Kristol] returned to the cruise ship, Paulette Simpson said, “they were very enamored of her.” In July, 2007, Barnes wrote the first major national article spotlighting Palin, titled “The Most Popular Governor,” for The Weekly Standard. Simpson said, “That first article was the result of having lunch.” Bitney agreed: “I don’t think she realized the significance until after it was all over. It got the ball rolling.”
The other journalists who met Palin offered similarly effusive praise: Michael Gerson called her “a mix between Annie Oakley and Joan of Arc.” The most ardent promoter, however, was Kristol, and his enthusiasm became the talk of Alaska’s political circles. According to Simpson, Senator Stevens told her that “Kristol was really pushing Palin” in Washington before McCain picked her. Indeed, as early as June 29th, two months before McCain chose her, Kristol predicted on “Fox News Sunday” that “McCain’s going to put Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska, on the ticket.” He described her as “fantastic,” saying that she could go one-on-one against Obama in basketball, and possibly siphon off Hillary Clinton’s supporters. He pointed out that she was a “mother of five” and a reformer. “Go for the gold here with Sarah Palin,” he said. The moderator, Chris Wallace, finally had to ask Kristol, “Can we please get off Sarah Palin?”
The next day, however, Kristol was still talking about Palin on Fox. “She could be both an effective Vice-Presidential candidate and an effective President,” he said. “She’s young, energetic.” On a subsequent “Fox News Sunday,” Kristol again pushed Palin when asked whom McCain should pick: “Sarah Palin, whom I’ve only met once but I was awfully impressed by—a genuine reformer, defeated the establishment up there. It would be pretty wild to pick a young female Alaska governor, and I think, you know, McCain might as well go for it.” On July 22nd, again on Fox, Kristol referred to Palin as “my heartthrob.” He declared, “I don’t know if I can make it through the next three months without her on the ticket.” Reached last week, Kristol pointed out that just before McCain picked Palin he had ratcheted back his campaign a little; though he continued to tout her, he also wrote a Times column promoting Senator Joe Lieberman, of Connecticut.
On October 6th, in another Times column, Kristol cryptically acknowledged having been entertained by the Governor. He mentioned meeting Palin “in far more relaxed circumstances, in Alaska over a year ago.” The column featured one of the few interviews that Palin has granted to the national media since becoming McCain’s running mate. Kristol quoted Palin saying that the debate had been a “liberating” experience, then wrote, “Shouldn’t the public get the benefit of another Biden-Palin debate, or even two? If there’s difficulty finding a moderator, I’ll be glad to volunteer.”
Here’s Mr. Kristol, heart still throbbing, again in his column today,
Why do elites like to proclaim premature closure — not just in elections, but also in wars and in social struggles? Because it makes them the imperial arbiters, or at least the perspicacious announcers, of what history is going to bring. This puts the elite prognosticators ahead of the curve, ahead of the simple-minded people who might entertain the delusion that they still have a choice.
They might have, if certain Washington insiders hadn’t made up the minds of the “simple-minded people” for them after a cruise. Now who’s the imperial arbiter? What’s truly vulgar is foisting one’s private passion on the entire country rather than basing the selection of a vice presidential candidate on reason, and blaming others rather than oneself when the truth of one’s poor choice becomes evident.
Dr. Kristol, who graduated from both the private New York City prep school Collegiate and from Harvard (BA and PhD) and thinks we’ll believe him when he says he sides with Joe the Plumber against Horace, reminds me of what Susan Jacoby wrote in The Age of American Unreason,
One of the true ironies of American public life today is that although politicians have become increasingly determined to downplay any telltale signs of intellectualism or elitism while running for office, intellectuals play an increasingly important role in the conduct of government. …
During the past thirty years, the old liberal intellectual establishment, based primarily in academia, has been joined by, and in certain crucial respects outsmarted by, a conservative intellectual establishment with a permanent base in right-wing think tanks and foundations underwritten by the fortunes of conservative businessmen. The right-wing egghead establishment cut its teeth during the Reagan administration and achieved immeasurably greater influence under George W. Bush, who is even more committed to the right’s foreign policy and economic agenda than Reagan was. The success of conservative strategists in masking their own elite class status, at least for the general public, and defining “the elites” as liberals has been the critical factor in their outsmarting of the intellectual left.
Once a conservative egghead, always an egghead. Or as those pesky
Latin-speaking elites have been known to say, Nemo in amore videt (love is blind).
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