47

UPDATED!!! “Kristol’s performance on the Op-Ed page during the most interesting election in a generation is a historical symptom, not merely a personal failure.”


 

George Packer votes for change.

UPDATE: The floodgates open! The New York Observer and this guy ask Kristol whether he wants to keep the job. Kristol is ambivalent! I’m busy, it’s haaaaard, yadda yadda. This guy also polled readers about who should be the next house con at the Grey Lady; for me, the write-in candidates are more interesting than who gets suggested. And Nora Ephron has been thinking about Bill! Is the reverse true? I highly doubt it.


 

UPDATED!!! “Kristol’s performance on the Op-Ed page during the most interesting election in a generation is a historical symptom, not merely a personal failure.”

  1. Yes, please. Get rid of Kristol and hire David Frum. He’s on the loose and threatening to move back to Canada full time.

  2. There’s a surprise. A liberal doesn’t like the only conservative writer at the NY Times and thinks he should be removed.

    Except for Brooks, I would argue the whole lineup of NY Times opinion writers have become “a member of what Orwell called a “permanent and pensioned” class of critics” and should be let go. Dowd, Rich and Herbert are particularly dire and some fresh blood should be brought in. And if they get rid of Kristol, they should replace him with a libertarian, not another conservative with gravitas but little to say.

  3. $5 to anyone who can recall anything positive or optimistic Ty-Guy has ever written here.

    You have lots of comments to peruse…

    I’m optimistic you’ll prove he’s not purely pessimistic.

  4. What I love about so many of our commenters is their consistency.

  5. Maybe attribute that to the success of William Shatner’s commercials.

  6. Oh, why be arch? I might as well say what I mean. jwl, what’s wrong with Kristol is not that he’s conservative. I know no serious commentator who questions the wisdom of keeping a conservative columnist spot at the Times, after William Safire spent 30 years making that spot one of the most important in American journalism. I know of nobody who’s suggesting that Kristol be replaced with a liberal.

    The problem with Kristol is that he’s a dire writer who was wrong at every turn this year; that he made big obvious factual mistakes all the time; that his prose is appalling; that he self-evidently couldn’t be arsed to do a serious job with the amazing gift he’d been given. He is an embarrassment, least of all to himself, and most of all to Arthur Sulzberger, who personally selected one of the worst columnists in his newspaper’s modern history.

    All of this is obvious. It’s why I protested when Kristol got the gig. (My suggestion, at the time, was that they should have considered Mark Steyn. My feeling now is that they should find somebody 35 or younger that nobody has ever heard of.)

    Could everybody please spend a little less time jerking their knees around here? If you think that’s a partisan comment, you’re part of the problem.

  7. There’s a surprise. A liberal doesn’t like the only conservative writer at the NY Times and thinks he should be removed.

    Read the link Mr. Wells has so graciously provided. It lavishly documents the very good, non-ideological reasons William Kristol should not have his contract renewed.

    David Frum is a better thinker and writer than William Kristol, and The Times would benefit greatly from someone like him.

    Canada? Not so much.

    $5 to anyone who can recall anything positive or optimistic Ty-Guy has ever written here.

    I said something very funny once about Mike Duffy. But that post *disappeared.*

    Do you know the difference between optimism and being a Pollyanna? Vacating people like Kristol is a very positive thing….for conservatives most of all, since it’ll free up valuable space for better, more honest, more deserving writers who can once again start articulating a rational view of conservatism.

  8. I have trouble understanding Canadian politics, let alone American. So, Kristol is no longer /or will no longer be a NY Times columnist. He’ll reappear elsewhere and still be interviewed on the mainstream political shows.

    I wonder if being a NY Times columnist is that significant any more. In Canada, I don’t think so.

  9. The Times used to have two heavyweight conservative writers. Their names were David Brooks and Thomas Friedman, and, back in the day, they were very influential among conservatives.

    They are still both Times columnists. But both had enough brains not to maintain loyalty to outdated ideas simply to maintain their titles.

    Kristol is a hack. Not only is he a party line hack, which all parties have amongst the commentariat, but he represents certain conservative characteristics that I’ve always found the most personally annoying: the smug, condescending flippancy and meanness of Mark Steyn, Bill O’Reilly or Rush Limbaugh. A pot full of PJ O’Rourkes except without humour, reflection or brains.
    And I say all that as a proud conservative.

  10. Paul

    I agree that Kristol should be let go by NY Times, though I have different reasons than you two, but why stop with him. Except for Brooks, I would argue all their political opinion writers have been phoning it in for years and have become part of the “permanent and pensioned class of critics”. The criticisms you have of Kristol can be equally applied to Dowd, Rich and Herbert but neither you nor Packer mention them.

    I thought Packer’s post would have been much more interesting if he would have looked at all the writers, and not just the sole conservative one, and that’s why I thought it came across as partisan. I am guessing that every prediction Dowd and Rich have made over the years hasn’t been accurate and if Herbert is the not the most milquetoast columnist ever, I would like to know who is.

  11. Great riposte, Paul.
    Yes, knee jerk reactions and dullard responses are everyone’s waste of time.
    Keep raising the bar!
    Now that American liberalism is once again in the ascendancy perhaps the exhausted Republican intellectuals will go back to basics and retool their ideological kit bag.
    Nothing like a bit of intellectual yin and yang to keep the gray matter from atrophying.

  12. jwl: “Except for Brooks, I would argue all their political opinion writers have been phoning it in for years and have become part of the “permanent and pensioned class of critics””

    How about Krugman? Tough to argue that he should go, what with his being so consistently right and winning that Nobel prize and all.

    Brooks is a complete clown, dispensing mush-mouthed “conservative” common wisdom and adding close to zero value most days.

  13. But you haven’t said what the problem is. What is your (our) problem?

  14. The good news is that if you’re not part of the problem you’re part of the solution.

  15. Isn’t Douthat the current conservative flavour-of-the-month ?

  16. Sisyphus: Indeed. See the poll in my update to this post. Also, Douthat has that key insider advantage: he had lunch with me last month. OK, that won’t help at all.

  17. if you read brooks’ column in the times today, and even if you don’t agree with it, you get the sense of the thought and effort that goes into each of his columns – and into most of the columns on the nyt op-ed. i used to love reading dowd when she was 70% style and 30% substance but she’s a bit tough to take now that she’s 110% style and minus-10% substance. i’ve become a big fan of gail collins, who is always interesting and usually pretty funny, even if her writing isn’t provocative or deep.

    i couldn’t stand kristol. i wanted him to be good because i loved safire. but he’s no safire. (although he columns defending palin were highly – though inadvertently – amusing.

  18. TJ Cook

    Krugman was a fantastic economist with a brilliant insight on trade but that was 30 years ago. Now he is just another hack, one amongst many in fact, working for the NY Times.

    My nominations for conservative writer at NY Times would be Steyn, of course, or Jonah Goldberg. Both of them are fantastic writers and are proper conservatives. Both would have the typical lib reader of NY Times wound up in no time so it probably won’t happen.

    But why all this focus on con writers. The NY Times is circling the toilet bowl and it’s not due to Kristol’s writing style or how accurate his predictions were. When Sulzberger starts to shake up his lineup of over the hill liberals than we will know he’s serious about rescuing his newspaper.

  19. Gail Collins rocks, gently gently.

  20. ‘Course with all the talk of deficits let loose upon the land we may need to call upon the wit and wisdom of John Fund to rescue the world again. Did Murdoch offer him a buy-out yet ?

  21. jwl: Dude, you owe me a new monitor, as I just spit coffee all over mine.

    Jonah Goldberg? Are you freakin’ serious? He’s as fatuous as David Brooks, as unconnected to reality (and as reliably wrong) as Billy Kristol and as lazy as Maureen Dowd. In that sense, I suppose, he’s the perfect new conservative columnist, having fully realized all the potential of the conservative “movement”.

    But seriously, jwl, do you really respect the man? Goldberg’s finest contribution to American culture has been as fodder for leftwing bloggers, who delight year after year in raking his gong-show fatuous “work” over the coals. He may very well be the laziest man on the Internet, and you think he should be stinking up the NYT?

    As for Krugman, his brilliant insight on trade may have been 30 years ago, but his brilliant insight on the housing bubble and associated crash is ongoing. Throughout the Bush administration, Krugman has been as right as Kristol has been wrong (and that’s a VERY strong statement). Seriously jwl, can you point to a big, fat boner in Krugman’s Times column? No? Because Kristol drops piles of concentrated wrong week after week. Goldberg doesn’t try hard enough to be wrong, and only hopes of replicating Kristol’s “success”.

    What a joke.

  22. jwl: I’m sorry, I just can’t drop this.

    Jonah Goldberg?!?

    Author of Liberal Fascism? Are you serious? Here’s a favorite blog of mine, reviewing an interview with Goldberg that was intending to promote that absurd book: http://www.sadlyno.com/archives/8475.html

    Read it. Respect the man who had to sit through the interview. Enjoy the savaging that Goldberg’s “reasoning” sustained from the observing bloggers. Marvel at Goldberg’s jaw-dropping lazy-ass bullshittery. And assure yourself that the conservative “movement” is in good hand with rock-ribbed pseudo-intellectuals like Goldberg. At least Goldberg can’t make anything worse than Podheretz, Wolfowitz, Kristol, Buckley, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Feith and the rest of the moron “intellectuals” of the conservative “movement”.

    Absolutely hilarious. And yet Krugman is a hack, in your disciplined, “conservative” mind.

  23. Sorry can’t resist,

    Jonah Goldberg ? The same one who while touting “Liberal Fascism” thought that the Nazi desire for an organic state meant they wanted better vegetables?

  24. “Seriously jwl, can you point to a big, fat boner in Krugman’s Times column? No?”

    TJ Cook

    Krugman’s errors are too many to list. However, I thought the Daniel Okrent, the NY Times Ombudsman, said it best: “Op-Ed columnist Paul Krugman has the disturbing habit of shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers in a fashion that pleases his acolytes but leaves him open to substantive assaults.”

    And you and Gray are perfect examples of why Goldberg probably won’t be hired. Libs easily get the vapors if they are not reading lib shibboleths. And Liberal Fascism is the No.1 history book this year according to Amazon but I am sure Jonah is all torn up that some clowns at Sadly, No! didn’t like his book.

  25. At lot of votes for Sullivan as a “conservative” at the portfolio link. Madness of crowds indeed!! Steyn would be a delight on the Times oped page and he strokes and aneurysms that would cause among Times readers would just be a bonus. Ponnuru got a few votes but he’s a bit to much of a So-Con for my liking. Someone young like Douthat would be good.

  26. So you provide no example, you just quote another person making the same unsubstantiated assertion about Krugman that you made.

    And please: the argument against Goldberg’s work is exactly the same as the argument against Kristol’s work, already expressed by Paul Wells above:

    ” jwl, what’s wrong with Kristol is not that he’s conservative. I know no serious commentator who questions the wisdom of keeping a conservative columnist spot at the Times, after William Safire spent 30 years making that spot one of the most important in American journalism. I know of nobody who’s suggesting that Kristol be replaced with a liberal.

    The problem with Kristol is that he’s a dire writer who was wrong at every turn this year; that he made big obvious factual mistakes all the time; that his prose is appalling; that he self-evidently couldn’t be arsed to do a serious job with the amazing gift he’d been given. He is an embarrassment, least of all to himself, and most of all to Arthur Sulzberger, who personally selected one of the worst columnists in his newspaper’s modern history.”

    The difference between Kristol and Goldberg – Goldberg would have to drastically improve his work just to achieve wrongness.

    And calling Liberal Fascism a “history” book is just adorable. Really, it includes such incisive “reasoning” as ‘Hitler was a vegetarian, just like many liberals!’ and ‘Here’s 3 known gay Nazis – liberals love gay people!’ Obviously I’m paraphrasing, but these arguments are actually in the book.

    You know what? Goldberg’s probably the best the right wing has at this point. I take it all back – please, please, please hoist him into real prominence. Let Jonah freakin’ Goldberg take the helm of conservatism.

    Oh, and Palin 2012!

  27. TJ Cook

    Google Krugman and wrong, more than a million hits. Not difficult to find Krugman errors.

    The best quote I found was by Krugman himself: “But compare me with anyone else, and I think my forecasting record is not great.” So Okrent and Krugman are in agreement.

    Have you read Liberal Fascism or are you just paraphrasing other libs who didn’t read the book? I wonder because I read the book and Goldberg says over and over and over that Libs in USA are not similar to Nazis. Nazis were outliers on how fascists behaved but USA libs did look to other European fascists for ideas and he provides numerous examples to back up his claims. Goldberg doesn’t compare Nazis and libs and says many times libs were not murderous thugs, they just shared some common ground intellectually with European fascists, mainly Mussolini.

    The only sensible thing you write is Palin 2012! We are in total agreement about that.

  28. So you’ve got nothing – no examples. Counting Google hits is the lamest argument ever.

    And let’s be clear: everyone, including Krugman, makes mistakes. Some technical, sometimes a slipped reference, sometimes failed logic. I’m not claiming the man is perfect.

    But nobody – nobody – has been as consistently, honkingly, gong-show, ah-ooo-gah! wrong as Kristol. The man is a walking joke. As far as I can tell, he doesn’t even believe his own tripe, he’s a dedicated propagandist who uses his NYT column to advance the Republican agenda.

    I’ve read parts of Liberal Fascism, including the title to Chapter Two: “Adolf Hitler: Man of the Left”. And Goldberg does say a number of times that lefties aren’t necessarily Nazis, which was generous of him. But while he may not *equate* Nazis and liberals, he most certainly does *compare* them extensively, using his trademark combination of lazy-assed research and fatuous arguments.

    It’s Coulter-quality agitprop masquerading as an intellectual effort, written by a man who’s simply not capable of honest intellectual exercise.

    I think the difference between Buckley, Kristol et al. and Goldberg is that the former were at least capable of polishing conservative turds with enough erudition and sophistry to sound respectable. Goldberg’s shortcomings as a writer and pseudo-intellectual lay bare the emptiness of his arguments.

    I say again – if you want morons like Palin and Goldberg as standard-bearers for conservatism, nothing would make me happier.

    By the way, Dave Niewert actually knows, you know, stuff about fascism. He writes about it extensively on his blog (http://dneiwert.blogspot.com/) if you want to actually learn something. If you’d rather surround yourself with conservative feel-good wankerism, leave your brain in neutral and enjoy Goldberg.

  29. Speaking of Buckley… how about the son, Christopher Buckley? An actual Conservative with an actual sense of humour – and enough guts to have disavowed Palin before it was trendy.

  30. Scott F

    I think most Repubs are thinking good riddance. Buckley was a big champion of McCain last spring but when things went south for McCain/Repubs, Buckley bails and comes out for Obama. I think Buckley was worried about not getting invitations to all the fashionable NY/Washington dinner parties so he decided to pile on a working class woman to justify his Benedict Arnold behaviour. He’s a real class act.

  31. Right, he’s not a Republican fanatic, so obviously he’s disqualified for the NYT slot! Deathwish only, please!

  32. Heh – I agree, jwl: I think it was a rat deserting a sinking ship. Of course, if the scales have truly fallen from Buckley’s eyes, he may have good things to contribute.

    Disavowing Palin became trendy almost immediately, especially among those not busy hyperventilating at her ability to deliver a bitchy one-liner. “Piling on” Palin was appropriate the very second it was clear she lacked the wherewithal to be VP, much less POTUS.

  33. It’s great though isn’t it that, given all the acrimony, it seems that almost EVERYONE can agree on one thing.

    PALIN 2012!!!!

    There was a survey recently that suggested that 80% of Republicans want Palin to be the Republican candidate in 2012, and as Bill Maher pointed out on Real Time, 100% of Democrats want Palin to be the Republican candidate in 2012.

    She’s a uniter, not a divider.

    It’s too bad that it looks like she won’t get to run in a special election for Stevens’ Senate seat. She’s wasted up there in Alaska where we’ll barely get to hear from her. I already miss her like I kinda miss Dan Quayle (although, to be fair, she’s a way better Dan Quayle than even Dan Quayle was). We need more politicians who can save the SNL writers valuable time by allowing the SNL players to simply read their speeches verbatim, unedited, and get uproarious laughs.

    Palin/”Someone less qualified than Sarah Palin” 2012!!!

  34. “so obviously he’s disqualified for the NYT slot!”

    Jack M

    I think he should be disqualified from NYT conservative slot because he’s not really conservative, more of a Rockefeller Republican, but that probably makes him perfect for the position.

  35. pile on a working class woman

    Oh please. Poor Sarah Palin. Why on earth did people expect intelligence, wit, or God forbid the ability to construct a coherent sentence without advance time from this humble working class woman? All those damned liberals and their insistence that a Vice Presidential candidate “know stuff” and “understand issues”, and “speak intelligible English”.

    Elitist scum.

    I’ll give you that there was some unseemly piling on of Joe the Plumber. THERE was a legitimate working class guy who was out of his depth, used by political operatives, and didn’t really deserve the kind of treatment he got. Attacking a local (almost) plumber for being horribly out of his depth in the midst of a Presidential campaign can definitely be construed as “piling on”.

    Attacking a State Governor (even of Alaska) and VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE for being horribly out of her depth in the midst of a Presidential campaign isn’t piling on. It’s protecting the planet.

    The only reason I can sleep at night with all the turmoil in the world is that I know that Sarah Palin isn’t a heart beat away from being followed around by a guy with the nuclear football. Palin and her ilk may be right that the apocalypse is coming soon, but I think America bought us at least a few years with their choice in 2008.

    That said,

    PALIN 2012!

  36. KRUGMAN EATS OKRENT FOR LUNCH!

    I’m not cheering for Palin in 2012. We’ve have enough of this circus and we’re all suffering for it. People like jwl most of all, but our media to a great extent. It’s going to be increasingly difficult for them to shift focus on more substantive issues while the race to the bottom is far from over and while it remains relatively cheap and easy to fill up our newsholes with these irrational “conservatives.”

    Charity demands that all good people demand much, much better from our ruling elites.

  37. Of course Ti-Guy, if the race to the bottom is truly far from over, then if it’s not Palin 2012 one risks the possibility that the Republicans will find someone even less qualified for the race four years from now. The Republicans could very well decide that the problem with Palin was that she was too “elite”. That even she was too far removed from the REAL “real America”.

    I wouldn’t put “Wurzelbacher 2012” past the Republicans.

  38. How about “Wurzelbacher/Hasselbeck 2012.”

    Gee, I’m starting to like this idea…

  39. Four years is a long time, so if we suppose the American Right is going to get more wackjobby we need to speculate outside the box: why not Bill O’Reilly 2012?

  40. Krystol is a “neo-con”, not a conservative. He is a Red Diaper Baby, the spawn of an actual Bolshevist. He is an “entryist” who has infiltrated the conservative movement with a view to destroying it, as are the rest of the two-degrees-of-PNAC crowd. He holds liberal social views, supports big government, and likes war a lot – this is not conservative.

    Paul Wells knows everything I just wrote, yet persists in referring to him as a “conservative” who, er, gets his facts wrong. Not cricket.

    All I need to know about who wears the pants in American politics I learned from a ten second youtube clip of Kristol referring to the recently departed CIA director as a “crybaby” on national TV. Not the type of thing you say about a guy who ran the world’s biggest spy operation – unless you are extremely secure in your position in life.

  41. So, let me get this straight:

    * neocons aren’t conservatives because they’re (sometimes) socially liberal and pro-big government

    * conservatives aren’t conservatives because they don’t want to conserve the status quo

    * conservatives aren’t conservatives because they don’t believe in aristocracy

    * conservatives aren’t liberals because they believe in limited government

    * conservatives are liberals because they believe in free trade and the yeomanry

    * neocons are liberals because they believe in imperialism

    * liberals aren’t conservatives because they’re against American hegemony

    * liberals aren’t liberals because they’re often protectionist

    How valuable these labels are! You basically take all political stances for the last 150 years and you roll them up in a big ball of dough and everybody gets some! Long live anarchy!

  42. I can see the point of genuine conservatives (whatever that means….as a liberal with very conservative habits, I don’t have to worry about that so much) wanting to distance themselves from neo-conservatives (who are in fact radical nationalists and bizarre quasi-Maoist ideologues) but I think it’s frankly a little late in the game.

  43. I love the “Not Conservative” game!

    Anyone associated with the conservative “movement” who goes off-message, questions conservative doctrine, comes on to underage pages, screws up publicly or otherwise becomes a liability is summarily declared Not Conservative and lopped off like an infected limb.

    That way the delicate flower of conservatism is preserved despite the endless failures of those who try to implement it. Conservatism, you see, is perfect. Conservatism never fails, it can only *be* failed by imperfect humans.

    That Conservatism has never consistently succeeded is a measure of the people, not of Conservatism itself.

    Occasionally, someone fails who has been associated too strongly with Conservatism to be sloughed off. Like an internal infection, Conservatism simply surrounds these failures with the impenetrable capsule of another label, such as paleo-, neo- or entryist-conservative. See? Just like that, the delicate flower of conservatism is protected.

    Over the next 5 years we’re going to see the Superbowl of ‘Not-A-Conservative’ as the true believers attempt to wall off the entire Bush administration and convince themselves they never supported those big-spending, constitution-eroding criminals. Pass the popcorn!

  44. As always, Alice in Wonderland provides a good summary of political thinking:

    “If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?”

  45. well, at least no votes here for Sullivan. Pip! Pip!

  46. John O’Sullivan

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