Thursday, November 6, 2008

Kristol agonistes

Andrew thinks that Bill Kristol is fighting for his career.

I don't know. If you look at the collapse of any power system, one of the progenitors is always a lack of accountability. That's particularly discouraging in a party that has, to its credit, always focused on individual responsibility. (To its discredit, it has often oversimplified or distorted the degree to which disadvantaged people are responsible for their own situations.) To be blunt about it, Bill Kristol was disastrously, incredibly, jaw-droppingly wrong about Iraq. You can go back to his archived work and find dozens of clear, factual predictions that were proven completely false, again and again and again. Even his support for the surge, if you look at his actual predictions and reasoning, was founded on reasons that have been proven untrue, regardless of the outcome. The man simply has a terrible recent track record, and to the extreme detriment of his party.

One of the weird things about this election was that the fact that the war was somehow taken off the table has obscured the degree to which Bush's unpopularity-- and the Republican collapse-- are directly attributable to the war in Iraq. Oh, there's many, many fathers to this failure. But Iraq was the initial flashpoint for Bush-rejection. It was the most direct and powerful cause of the 2006 Republican congressional defeat. And it's remained deeply unpopular. It's the sore that Americans can't help but be bothered by, and it's a sore with a specific partisan brand.

So I don't particularly expect a man whose career in the media (both conservative and mainstream) has flourished, after being so disastrously wrong, will be defenestrated (my favorite word) after advocating a Vice Presidential pick who seemed to perform so poorly. Besides, the Republican base loves Palin. The mainstream conservative intelligentsia largely support Palin. Many conservatives believe polling to be biased, so they don't care that polls say she was a drag on the ticket. And on and on.

The question of accountability is going to be a tough one, I imagine. There's so much disagreement about who went wrong, and in what direction, that you can end up with the polar extremes of someone like Kristol (clearly wrong about the factual implications of nominating Palin) getting away scott free, living on as a very influential conservative; and on the other end, someone like Erik Erikson calmly announcing a cull of the disloyal.

1 comment:

The Raj Man said...

You don't understand. Kristol speaks to people's hopes, not facts. There's nothing to hold him accountable to, because he exemplifies what his clientele wants to hear, nothing more. Seems to me that he's pretty useful, though. Whatever he says, do the opposite.