Michael Wolraich's picture

    Persecution Politics: Bill Kristol Says, Rage On!

    One reason that right-wing commentators continue to spout paranoid hysteria is that no one has told them to shut up. OK, Keith Olbermann and a bunch of left-wing bloggers have told them to shut up, and the White House has indirectly implied that they should please keep it down. But the people who really have the power to undermine the conspiracists--the non-paranoid conservative leaders, or what's left of them--have not said a damn word about the wild accusations hurled by Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh or Michele Bachmann. Some may be afraid, particularly after Limbaugh schooled RNC Chair Michael Steele when Steele called him an "entertainer." But others have cynically calculated that the paranoia works for the party, so they just let it ride.

    Take Bill Kristol. Kristol is a very conservative man, but he is not a stupid man. Unlike Beck and Limbaugh, who never graduated from college, Kristol received a B.A. (magna cum laude) and Ph.D. from Harvard. Instead of beginning his career as a radio D.J., he taught political science at U. Penn and Harvard's Kennedy School. He has never expressed the kind of paranoia that has become the standard fare of FOX News commentary. But he has no intention of trying to stop it. Kristol believes that the Republican Party's center of gravity lies "with individuals such as Palin and Huckabee and Gingrich, media personalities like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, and activists at town halls and tea parties," and he praises their effectiveness:

    Some will lament this -- but over the past year, as those voices have dominated, conservatism has done pretty well in the body politic, and Republicans have narrowed the gap with Democrats in test ballots...The lesson activists around the country will take from this is that a vigorous, even if somewhat irritated, conservative/populist message seems to be more effective in revitalizing the Republican Party than an attempt to accommodate the wishes of liberal media elites. So the GOP is likely, for the foreseeable future, to be of a conservative mind and in a populist mood. In American politics, there are worse things to be.

    In American politics, there are worse things to be. Kristol doesn't tell us what those worse things are, but red-baiting witch-hunters from the 1950's are fairly high on many peoples' lists--the politicians whose paranoid fearmongering tore the country apart until someone finally stood up and said, "Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?" Conservative leaders of the day surely felt that the "populist mood" benefited their election chances. Eisenhower toured Wisconsin with McCarthy, and it probably helped him to win the Presidency.

    But Eisenhower hated McCarthy and actively worked to undermine him after winning the election. We might also recall a more recent president, George H.W. Bush, who resigned his lifelong NRA membership after an NRA advertisement referred to "jack-booted government thugs," a fascist reference that seems almost quaint by today's standards.

    Yet today, we hear nothing but silence from the right side of the aisle, or worse, complicity from politicians who seek to profit directly from the hysteria. As long as conservatives provide a haven for conspiracy theories, the paranoia will continue to boil and heave and devour the party that protects it.

    Stay tuned for more crazy talk in my Persecution Politics series at dagblog.com.



    Good stuff, G.  Kristol, who was supposedly involved in the selection of Sarah Palin as McCain's running mate, is certainly not above opportunistic use of populist sentiment.  BTW, did you mean to type "Michelle Baucus" in your first paragraph?  If so, I must not be getting the joke.  If not, you might be reading too much news!

    Bachmann, Bachmann. I was clearly blogging too late.

    Let us not forget, however, that despite his schooling, Kristol made his mark due to cronyism. Because one thing you can say about the Weekly Standard is this - Dagblog gets more readers than it does (it's circ is 80k).

    As far as the crazies, all Kristol wants is someone in charge that will bomb the crap out of the rest of the planet.

    Kristol has his own kind of crazy, but it's not Beck's kind. He doesn't believe that Obama is a secret Marxist who is planning fascist revolution. The point is that he tolerates Beck for the sake of conservative politics, and he's not alone.

    Kristol may book smart, but he has absolutely zero read on reality. If Kristol says something is going to happen, you can pretty much depend on exactly the opposite.

    Hopefully, that is also true in this case. But in a sense, it doesn't really matter whether the paranoia actually helps conservatives politically. As long as conservatives believe that the paranoia helps, they will keep their mouths shut.

    The line that strikes me as most telling is the one about not accommodating "the wishes of liberal media elites." You have to give the Harvard educated Kristol points on irony for writing that in the Washington Post.

    To be honest, I am not sure what that sentence even means, but if you want to look for a sense of persecution you need look no further than conservatives in the media and conservatives in Academia.

    Nice catch. It's not hard to find persecution narratives. They're all over conservative media, academia, government, and church. But it's interesting to see how the tone differs. Kristol's "liberal media elites" hang out, in Beck's words, "in 
sandwiches." It's not clear why they prefer the basement.

    LOL - why the basement? Well it's probably Bill Ayers and Van Jones hanging out with Nancy (now that they can no longer chill with Obama).  So I imagine they are buidling bombs.

    Now it's everyone knows it's easier to build bombs in the basement. That way you don't get the ethonol (I don't actually know what you build bombs out off- I was going to search bomb building materials on the internet, but then I got paranoid) all over the fancy imported French furniture.

    It's common sense man. Just like the name of the book.

    The real question is why they are eating roast beef?!? I would have thought that all those bomb building commies are vegetarians.


    Mysteries abound. Arugula, of course, has long been the leafy green of choice among basement-dwelling anti-capitalist nut jobs, but the radicalization of roast beef is a frightening turn of events that should alarm beef lovers and cattle farmers across the nation. What's next? Bolshevik corndogs?

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