I can’t imagine when I have ever experienced greater euphoria. Having just learned that the New York Times had hired the 21st century’s greatest sage, William Kristol, as a columnist, I broke out the champagne in celebration of this glorious event. He now joins David Brooks as the Bobsie Twins of the pseudo-American right living off the largesse of the pseudo-American left. Known as "Quayle’s brain" during his stint as chief of staff to the mind-bogglingly stupid vice president to Bush I, he gained fame for sinking Bill Clinton’s health plan. His rationale was that if it ever passed, it would make the American middle class beholden forever to the Democratic Party. He famously wrote the memorable line delivered by Bob Dole in rebutting Clinton’s state of the union address, "What health crisis?"
Kristol teaches a course at Harvard on Xenophon, whose claim to fame is that there was never a war he didn’t like. Naturally, he was a favorite of Leo Strauss, the thinker Kristol most admires. We can also thank Kristol for founding, along with Bruce Jackson, the Project for the New American Century, the propaganda vehicle that launched the war in Iraq.
Why would the Times do this now after Kristol has been totally discredited and is nothing more than the detritus of the defunct neo-conservative movement? It’s true that the Times is slow on the uptake. It usually takes them at least five years to figure out what is going on, but why should they care that Kristol has been their constant critic since it’s been at least five years since anyone took him seriously? It’s a bit late in the day to bother to buy him off when maybe the only people to take him seriously are Irving Kristol and Gertrude Himmelfarb, and that’s only because they happen to be his parents.
There simply must be some other reason for this monumental event. I thought and thought and finally came to the conclusion that there must be some justification apart from the general conspiracy of mediocrity that haunts America. And that reason is Rupert Murdoch. For years, Murdoch has connived to figure a way to take down the New York Times, and while I generally disapprove of him, I have always cheered him on in this endeavor. Now, he has the vehicle for doing it, the Wall Street Journal, which Murdoch is in the process of overhauling to make into an all-purpose newspaper capable of not only challenging the Times, but defeating it, so that the Journal becomes the paper of record so that the "grey lady" will simply lapse into desuetude.
One can just imagine the meeting that took place in Pinch’s office, the great brains of American journalism knocking about names that could ward off Murdoch by preempting him from the right. After skipping over all the great luminaries of the right, from Taki to Lew Rockwell, they came to the conclusion unanimously on the lamest writer they could conceive of, William Kristol. I can just hear David Brooks gnashing his teeth. "Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the rightist of them all?" And the mirror answers, "William Kristol, jerk!" The nebbish one then hurls his wine glass at the mirror, smashing it into a thousand pieces in jealous rage, and spilling the Chardonnay all over the floor.
And the indignity to read Kristol’s first column:
"I quote from Ecclesiastes: u2018The wise man’s understanding turns him to the right; the fool’s understanding turns him to the left.’ And what does it mean to be on the right as a columnist for a liberal newspaper? It means that I can speak truth to power by virtue of the largesse of power, teaching its readers that u2018right makes might.’ It makes it, not figuratively, but literally, so that once the standard Republican version of the right, and by that I definitely don’t mean Ron Paul, is in power, it will make might by adopting a defense budget so large that it will be the envy of Dick Cheney.
"I will teach them to look to Iran as the source of all the world’s problems by explaining how it supports Al Queda, just as I taught America when I wrote for the Weekly Standard, which I also founded and sold to Rupert Murdoch for a bundle, that Saddam Hussein supported Al Queda. Before long, Bill Keller will be agreeing with me the way he agreed with Judith Miller and we will be safely and assuredly on our way to the next war. And because the Times will be for it, Hillary Clinton will be for it, with the understanding that she will deny she was ever for it after it turns into another disaster. And as for Pakistan, we must support Musharraf until the end because we have no other choice, even though he is universally hated for being a puppet of both America and Britain.
"By virtue of my new position with the Times, I am now an official pundit of the system, replacing the unctuous William Safire, "Spiro Agnew’s brain." You have to hand it to the GOP. If nothing else, they sure know how to pick vice presidents.
"I’ll be writing my column three times a week, giving me ample space to communicate with you on a regular basis. You can expect me to challenge your most deeply held beliefs and provoke you into thinking things from a different perspective, which is another way of saying, u2018Keep buying the Times.’ Because if you don’t, I might have to make an honest living as the headwaiter at Elaine’s."
Richard Cummings [send him mail] taught international law at the Haile Selassie I University and before that, was Attorney-Advisor with the Office of General Counsel of the Near East South Asia region of U.S.A.I.D, where he was responsible for the legal work pertaining to the aid program in Israel, Jordan, Pakistan and Afghanistan. He is the author of a new novel, The Immortalists, as well as The Pied Piper — Allard K. Lowenstein and the Liberal Dream, and the comedy, Soccer Moms From Hell. He holds a Ph.D. in Social and Political Sciences from Cambridge University and is a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers. He is writing a new book, The Road To Baghdad — The Money Trail Behind The War In Iraq. He is a contribution editor for The American Conservative.