Monday, January 26, 2009

Kristol: Exit Stage Right

The New York Times has a brief announcement at the bottom of William Kristol’s column today:

This is William Kristol’s last column.

In a way I’m sorry to see him go; he’s always been good for a laugh or a shake of the head first thing on a Monday morning, and I appreciated the glimpse into the wonderful world of Neo-Con Cloud Cuckooland where everybody is white and straight and Ronald Reagan is forever the president while the flag snaps in the breeze in that shining city on the hill. And his final opus does not disappoint; it’s a paean to the successes of conservatism over the last thirty years:

Since Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980, conservatives of various sorts, and conservatisms of various stripes, have generally been in the ascendancy. And a good thing, too! Conservatives have been right more often than not — and more often than liberals — about most of the important issues of the day: about Communism and jihadism, crime and welfare, education and the family. Conservative policies have on the whole worked — insofar as any set of policies can be said to “work” in the real world. Conservatives of the Reagan-Bush-Gingrich-Bush years have a fair amount to be proud of.

Seeing as how they got so much wrong — Communism in Europe collapsed under its own weight and is still in place in China, Vietnam, North Korea, and Cuba; their response to jihadism resulted in attacking and occupying the wrong country while basically shredding the Bill of Rights here at home and enraging the Muslim world; they trashed the environment and denied climate change; they blew a multi-billion dollar budget surplus; they deregulated the banking industry into fraud and ruin; they created unfunded mandates for education standards while schools crumbled; advocated wholesale deportation of brown-skinned aliens; and for all their weeping and wailing about “family values,” the divorce rate rose in the Bible Belt while they railed against same-sex marriage and turned health care reform into a political football — it’s proof that the eternal optimism of finding the pony at the bottom of a pile of manure is still strong with them. Mr. Kristol and his fellow conservatives may, as he says, have a fair amount to be proud of, but the simple fact is that if the conservatives have been right more often than not, then John McCain would be the one in the White House and Mitch McConnell would be the Senate Majority Leader.

To his credit, Mr. Kristol does not go off in a huff, as compared to some of the more unhinged of his ilk like Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh. He gives Mr. Obama credit for realizing the dire straits the country has been left in at the hands of the conservatives and hopes that he will co-opt some of their ideas such as a strong defense and patriotism, things he apparently believes are new concepts to liberals. Well, I suppose when you’ve spent the last thirty years in the clutches of a culture that embraces mythology over science, theocratic fundamentalism over reason, and a willingness to compromise your core beliefs for the sake of a false sense of security, not to mention the fact that you’ve been one of the chief proponents of this philosophy, it’s a little tough to accept that fact that someone else might have a different approach to achieving the same goals of safety, prosperity, and equality.

So long, Bill. Write if you get work.