I am not one who believes in interventions for people who are obviously delusional. If they’re not a danger to themselves or others, I let them go on their merry way, leaving them to be happy in their own little world of pink skies and talking rainbows or whatever it is that populates their reality. But in the case of William Kristol, I truly believe it is time that he got some help.
Today he devotes his column to the analysis of the “common man” and how, in spite of all sorts of evidence to the contrary, the vast population of America isn’t really angry or concerned about the future of the country or their own personal well-being.
Last week, the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press released its latest national survey, taken from Oct. 9 to 12. Americans are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the country and of course concerned about the economy. But, as Pew summarized, “there is little indication that the nation’s financial crisis has triggered public panic or despair.”
In fact, “There is a broad public consensus regarding the causes of the current problems with financial institutions and markets: 79 percent say people taking on too much debt has contributed a lot to the crisis, while 72 percent say the same about banks making risky loans.”
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.
I added the emphasis, and it’s that line that should set off the alarms: “Sept. 11 did not result in a much-feared (by intellectuals) wave of popular Islamophobia or xenophobia…”
That right there should tell you that Mr. Kristol has obviously taken leave of his senses. The anti-Islamic rhetoric, demagoguery, and hysteria that took over this country after September 11, 2001 is not only well-documented in case after case of vandalism, threats, physical assaults, terror alerts, and other acts of mindless hysteria, it has never stopped. It is still going on today and is playing a major role in the presidential campaign — Obama is a Muslim! His middle name is Hussein! For Mr. Kristol to say that there was no “Islamophoba or xenophobia” is pretty much the same as saying that there was no popular hysteria or scapegoating of the Japanese after Pearl Harbor.
As for the reaction by the public to the collapse of Wall Street, all he has to do is look at the poll numbers for the McCain-Palin ticket and see exactly who the public blames for their dwindling fortunes. People don’t riot in the streets when they open their mail and read their 401(k) quarterly statements, but they know who’s been in charge of the economy for the last eight years and they know who let the banks get away with it. There isn’t hysteria in the streets, but there may well be panic in Phoenix on November 4 when the scapegoating shows up in the election booths.
Mr. Kristol concludes his paean to the common man by praising Joe the Plumber: “He seems like a sensible man to me.” If his idea of “sensible” is a guy whose entire “Joe the Plumber” persona is a fiction dreamed up by the McCain campaign and Fox News but who is in reality nothing more than a shill who is not really a plumber, owes back taxes, and thinks that Barack Obama tap dances better than Sammy Davis, Jr., then I think intervention is his only hope.