Richard Perez-Pena* reports in today’s New York Times that conservative columnist William Kristol, by mutual agreement with the paper, will not be renewing his one year contract as a columnist for the Op-Ed page. Kristol will be writing for the Washington Post and contributing to its blog, Post Partisan. Note to the Post, where the Radical’s old buddy from Oligarch OCD days, Ruth Marcus is holding down the fort: this is almost as cute a name as Tenured Radical. But not quite.
Ah Bill, we hardly knew ye. But Kristol could not have been happy at the Times. It’s one thing to see your hideous little political world go down in flames, but quite another to be surrounded by a bunch of insanely happy liberals while it is happening. Perhaps because of constant liberal crowing, Kristol has seemed increasingly delusional since the Obama candidacy became an actual presidency. In yesterday’s Will Obama Save Liberalism? Kristol asserted that “conservatives have more often been right than not.” Do you mean on the right, dearie? Because if you mean correct, I have to ask you why our military is in pieces, our education and health systems are a laughing stock, the constitution has taken its worst body blows since Lincoln suspended habeus corpus, a quarter of the world is in flames, more Americans lose their jobs every day, and the American economy is in the worst shape it has been in for eighty years? I have to ask that, Bill. And lest we forget, how about the December 22, 2008 column in which Kristol shrugged his shoulders about Dick Cheney’s historically low approval rating (15% at the time of the inaugural) and asserted that Cheney is a just and civil man. How does Kristol know this? Because when asked by Chris Wallace about whether he had any regrets about — not the war, not torture, not subverting the Constitution — but about telling Patrick Leahy to “bleep” himself, Cheney replied: “No, I thought he merited it at the time. (Laughter.) And we’ve since, I think, patched over that wound and we’re civil to one another now.” Kristol reflected:
No spin. No doubletalk. A cogent defense of his action — and one that shows a well-considered sense of justice. (“I thought he merited it.”) Indeed, if justice is seeking to give each his due, one might say that Dick Cheney aspires to being a just man. And a thoughtful one, because he knows that justice is sometimes too harsh, and should be tempered by civility.
Bleeping awesome, Bill. Hold the tar, hold the feathers. And have fun in Washington. I hope your party doesn’t hold the Palin thing against you for too long.
As a coda, I hope that the New York Times and other liberal media outlets will re-think the informal policy they apear to have adopted over the last eight years of hiring pet in-house conservatives simply because they are conservatives. In the first place, it’s not something any conservative newspaper or magazine would do, and if my small experience as a blogger is at all representative, right-wingers will never, ever be convinced of the intellectual legitimacy of anyone outside their circles. But if you must hire a conservative, to keep poor, overworked conservative journalist David Brooks (currently house conservative at the Times, NPR, and the Lehrer News Hour) company, hire one who is willing to think rather than repeat and defend the same old cant. That’s what will add real diversity to the Times Op-Ed page. Kristol’s tenure at the Times was ridiculous from beginning to end (so ridiculous that this is the first time I believe I have written about it) because he is nothing but an ideologue who bends history and facts to his sunny, right-wing world view. The time for such people is over.
*SOS to GayProf: how do I do proper accent marks on Blogger?