William Kristol: Masquerading as a Fan of the Common Man

I have always wanted to write a hoax for the New York Times op-ed page, it is too bad that the duplicitous neoconservative insider William Kristol has unwittingly achieved that goal before me in seriousness, not in facetiousness. In his 20 October NYT op-ed, he expressed doubt about whether there really is a “vulgarization in our politics,” and showed just how stunningly out of touch he is with the debasement of public discourse and ignorance of many Americans. What is hard to determine throughout this work is whether Kristol’s ignorance of the public’s ignorance is genuine. But, this should come as no surprise coming from a man who treats fact and opinion as one and the same, and has no problem writing propaganda (as he has actually done). In the beginning of the op-ed, he disdained the alleged elitism of Wall Street Journal writer and neoconservative pundit, Peggy Noonan, who expressed her negative view on Sarah Palin’s candidacy (a view Kristol says he does not share).

Next Kristol wrote, “Conservatives’ hearts have always beaten a little faster when they read Horace’s famous line: “Odi profanum vulgus et arceo.” “I hate the ignorant crowd and I keep them at a distance.”” He followed with some questions, “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?” The answers should be an emphatic “yes.” And, it is the lowest common denominator, not the common man, that is “too thoroughly dominating our national life.”

His next sentence read, “I don’t think so.” This is what happens when Kristol doubts the very attributes of American life that he is actually contributing to in the same very work. The irony is completely lost on him. He also expects his readers to forget what he said, in 1996, to the Washington Post, “Someone needs to stand up and defend the Establishment… After all, we conservatives are on the side of the lords and barons.” He was honest back then about where he stands.

In this op-ed, however, he tried to deceive the reader that he really does adore “the people,” not those snooty out-of-touch Establishment intellectuals (a description that he himself fits through and through). He proceeded back up his support of the “common man” by citing a Pew Poll that showed Americans having little panic or despair about the financial crisis. The obscurantist wrote, “The vulgar public on Main Street has been surprisingly forgiving of those well-educated types on Wall Street.” What Kristol cleverly omitted from that poll is that the financial crisis was overshadowed by concern about presidential campaign tones and tactics. According to Pew, “For the first time in a month, the 2008 campaign generated more coverage than the financial crisis (41% vs. 36%). And almost one-third of that election coverage was connected to the increasingly harsh tone of the campaign.” As one can see, the margin is not very big (41% vs. 36%), and there are few days until Election Day.

Mr. Kristol observes, “This seems sensible. Indeed, as Sept. 11 did not result in a much-feared (by intellectuals) wave of popular Islamophobia or xenophobia, so the market crash has resulted in remarkably little popular hysteria or scapegoating.” Never mind that the day the $700 billion bailout passed, there were protests in about a hundred cities, and there were thousands of negative phone calls and e-mails sent to Congress members.

Most shocking of all is this statement, “Most of the recent mistakes of American public policy, and most of the contemporary delusions of American public life, haven’t come from an ignorant and excitable public. They’ve been produced by highly educated and sophisticated elites.” It never occurs to this man with his head in the sand that the public is infected with a highly-virulent strain of combined anti-intellectualism, anti-rationalism, and ignorance, and that is why it has been so easily fooled by the “highly educated and sophisticated elites” such as himself, who, by the way, is one of the architects of the Iraq war, and tried to sell that idea back in the 1990’s to Pres. Bill Clinton, who turned it down.

He follows that statement with his cynical faux populism, “Needless to say, the public’s not always right, and public opinion’s not always responsible. But as publics go, the American public has a pretty good track record. In the 1930s, the American people didn’t fall – unlike so many of their supposed intellectual betters – for either fascism or Communism. Since World War II, the American people have resisted the temptations of isolationism and protectionism, and have turned their backs on a history of bigotry.” It also does not occur to him that the wars America has fought since the end of the Second World War were sold to the public using the doctrine of “containment” of Communism, the 1950’s Red Scare, and McCarythism with the underlying intention of protecting overseas markets and American interests.

Then, he insults a majority of people’s desire for a politician that diverges from the ideas of Bush by saying that their 50%-40% support for Obama is a challenge to his claim that the American people have “good sense.” He writes, “It’s hard to blame the public for preferring Obama at this stage – given the understandable desire to kick the Republicans out of the White House, and given the failure of the McCain campaign to make its case effectively.” To diminish his worry, he raises the possibility of many voters changing their minds to give McCain-Palin a victory.

“The media elites really hate that idea,” he says, “because they like telling us what’s going to happen. They’re always annoyed when the people cross them up.” To him, it seems media elites support only Sen. Obama. Perhaps he does not consider the people at FOX News, The Weekly Standard, the New York Post, and the Washington Times, or himself (editor and founder of The Weekly Standard, and writer of a regular column in Time) as “media elites,” which they all obviously are.

Then Kristol continued to display the sheerest hypocrisy when he wrote, “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 [them] ahead of the simple-minded people who might entertain the delusion that they still have a choice.” Apparently he forgot that he declared decisive and honorable victory in Iraq and Afghanistan in April of 2003! Triumphantly, he proclaimed, “We committed ourselves to reshaping the Middle East, so the region would no longer be a hotbed of terrorism, extremism, anti-Americanism, and weapons of mass destruction. The first two battles of this new era are now over. The battles of Afghanistan and Iraq have been won decisively and honorably.” He must have hated eating his words, considering he is in the media elite.

He concluded his hypocritical, dimwitted op-ed with his perverse fake populism, “But as Gerald Ford said after assuming the presidency on Aug. 9, 1974, “Here the people rule.” One of those people is Joe Wurzelbacher, a k a Joe the Plumber. He’s the latest ordinary American to do a star turn in our vulgar democratic circus. He seems like a sensible man to me.” Indeed it would be difficult to find someone who does not seem sensible to William Kristol. Said the modern Joseph Goebbels, “I join [McCain and Palin] in taking my stand with Joe the Plumber – in defiance of Horace the Poet.”

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~ by jsacc001 on October 23, 2008.

One Response to “William Kristol: Masquerading as a Fan of the Common Man”

  1. Forget Blue states. America is Beige. Like those pestel revolutions in Yougreen and Tealand. We must take to the streets with people power and keep them from steeling the election again. The party of Timothy McVeigh and Pat Bucannon inflicts terrorism like Waco and Rudy Ridge. What is wrong with a few thousand Jews dead on 9/11 when so many slaves got genocide. The Greek Benaki Louisiana shipping and the Lehman-Alabama finance brought them over from the Lords of Hartum.

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