Monday, April 28, 2008

Kristol Meth: Let’s You and Him Fight

I’m beginning to think that William Kristol is deliberately writing his columns to prove that no matter what he says, the New York Times will dutifully publish it and therefore allow themselves to look as if they really don’t care what he says: “All the fits that print is news,” as it were.

Today he’s taking the daring step of praising Hillary Clinton for running a tough campaign, making Barack Obama sweat, and calling him out for refusing to debate her before the North Carolina primary.

The fact is Hillary Clinton has turned out to be an impressive candidate. She has consistently defeated Barack Obama when her back was to the wall — first in New Hampshire, then in several big primaries on Super Tuesday, on March 4 in Ohio and Texas, and then last week in Pennsylvania, where she was outspent by almost 3 to 1, yet won handily.

She is, of course, still behind in the race, and Obama will most likely be the nominee. His team has run the better campaign. In particular, it realized how important the caucus states could be: Obama’s delegate lead depends on his caucus victories.

But Hillary may well be the better candidate. After all, for all the talk of Obama’s extraordinary ability to draw voters to the polls, Clinton has defeated him in the big states, including California, Texas, New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio. Obama won his home state of Illinois, but she won Florida, where both were on the ballot but didn’t campaign.


Hillary has achieved this despite much disparagement of her candidacy by liberal commentators, and in the face of the media’s crush on Obama. Even those who started out being well disposed to Clinton have moved toward Obama, if only out of concern that the prolonged race is damaging Democratic prospects in the fall.

Obama understands his advantage with the media, as he perhaps inadvertently demonstrated over the weekend on “Fox News Sunday.” In the course of dismissing much pundit commentary for typically overreacting to events, good or bad, Obama explained, “Well, look, after you lose, then everybody writes these anguished columns about, why did you lose?”

Obama chose a nice word: “anguished.” You’re only anguished by an Obama defeat if you’re rooting for an Obama victory. Obama was tacitly acknowledging that much of the liberal media has been hoping he’d win. Now, they’re rooting for him to close the deal.

I’m not sure what Mr. Kristol means by “the liberal media,” seeing as how Newsweek is writing about his Bubba gap and running a poll showing that his lead against Hillary Clinton is slipping. (This is based on the premise that you believe Newsweek is indeed “liberal.”)

As for the debate, Mr. Kristol seems to take great glee in tweaking Sen. Obama for deciding to forgo another round of Trivial Pursuit before the North Carolina primary next week:

Will it be left to conservatives like the estimable blogger “Allahpundit” (at to (sarcastically) state the obvious? “What’s the most efficient way to communicate with voters? Surely not at a massively promoted, televised, highly watched debate. Much better to hold a few town halls and meet and greets.”

We have had four one-on-one debates so far — and each has been revealing. A debate without a moderator, as Clinton has suggested, could be particularly interesting. But debates would give Clinton equal time in the spotlight, and would make Obama’s advantage in paid media in Indiana and North Carolina far less significant.

On Friday in Indiana, Obama talked tough in response to a question: “I get pretty fed up with people questioning my patriotism.” And, he continued, “I am happy to have that debate with them any place, anytime.” He’s happy to have fantasy debates with unnamed people who are allegedly challenging his patriotism. But he’s not willing to have a real debate with the real person he’s competing against for the nomination.

Will Obama pay no price for ducking? Should paid advertisements determine the Democratic victor, not the performance of the two candidates debating at length in an unscripted setting?

You know you’re in it thick when he refers to a blogger from Hot Air as “estimable.” That’s like saying Jeffrey Dahmer was a gourmet. This is typical of Mr. Kristol’s method, much like his neocon chicken-hawk shtick of getting someone else to do the fighting while he stands back and watches. It’s like he gets his jollies out of being the manipulator of other people, encouraging them to do things that he wouldn’t do. He has a long track record of this, including joining the ranks of those like Rush Limbaugh, Trent Lott, Newt Gingrich, and Dick Cheney who are all very enthusiastic about having other people fight and die for their causes, such as marching freedom into the streets of Baghdad. It certainly served them well in Vietnam.

He ends this kinderspiel with “Over to you, anguished liberals,” as if he can’t wait to watch with a maniacal giggle. Actually, the only anguish we feel is when right-wing pundits like Mr. Kristol are been proven wrong again and again, yet papers like the Times still insist on publishing their stuff. However, we can use them as a cautionary tale of the decline of modern journalism and how easy a gig it is to be so very self-assured in wrong-headedness and get paid a lot of money for it.