Monday, December 29, 2008

Survival of the Twittest

William Kristol is still at the New York Times, but he is getting out of town.

I’m leaving the country the day of Barack Obama’s inauguration.

It’s nothing personal. Nor, I hasten to add — lest some people get too excited — is it anything permanent. It’s just that I happen to have a speech to give in Canada.

And with millions of people expected to descend on Washington for the inauguration, with the Metro overloaded, and roads and bridges closing, with the Portable Sanitation Association guidelines suggesting that there should be more than 12,000 porta-potties on the Mall — I have to admit that getting out of town seems like a pretty good idea.

Yes, he really doesn’t want to be around all those people (and he’s especially bothered by the fact that they’ll be needing to urinate) so he’s taking off to a place where he thinks everyone is white and inoffensive. (Guess what, Bill… they have people of color in Canada.)

But I also have to admit that I look forward to Obama’s inauguration with a surprising degree of hope and good cheer.

For one thing, there will be the invocation, delivered by Rick Warren. I suspect he’ll be careful to say nothing pro-life or pro-traditional-marriage — but we conservatives have already gotten more than enough pleasure from the hysterical reaction to his selection by the tribunes of the intolerant left. And having Warren there will, in fact, be a welcome reminder of the strides the evangelical movement and religious conservatives (broadly speaking) have made in recent decades.

Not surprisingly, Mr. Kristol is ignoring the fact that the “tribunes” of the Religious Right have been outraged that Mr. Warren would enter the enemy camp. The hysteria, it seems, is on the right, including one whack-job who claims that God will smite down Mr. Warren for blessing the inauguration of the “evil illegal alien.” As for the “strides” the evangelical movement and religious conservatives have made in recent decades, I would be interested in knowing what he thinks they are. They have campaigned non-stop against Roe v. Wade and yet it’s still the law of the land and likely to remain so. In spite of recent set-backs, notably Prop 8 in California and Amendment 2 in Florida, the gay community has not been shoved back into the closet; same-sex unions are legal in Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Connecticut, and domestic partner benefits are widely available to employees of both private and public institutions and companies. You still can’t pray in schools, and the Ten Commandments haven’t been wedged into the Constitution. And Mr. Kristol has the chutzpah to get petulant about “finger-wagging nanny-state-nagging liberalism”? Perhaps the cruelest cut of all, the faith-based community got played like a cheap fiddle by their Savior in Chief, George W. Bush, who took their money and their votes and didn’t deliver anything except lip service. It’s more than a little ironic that the people who got the most upset about Monica Lewinsky were the next in line to get serviced in the Oval Office.

Mr. Kristol is one of those people who thinks he’s a wit, but what’s really beneath that thin veneer of pundit polish is a petty, petulant and graceless twit without the maturity or good nature to acknowledge when he’s on the losing side of an argument and history. His contract with the New York Times will be renewed, apparently, not because he lends a particularly erudite insight into the conservative mindset but because he makes such a good foil for the opposition; like Alan Colmes was to Sean Hannity, or the Washington Generals are to the Harlem Globetrotters. And he gives me something to look forward to every Monday morning; it’s fun to start the week with an easy target.