A Marriage of Convenience

If the concerned readers of the New York Times are to be believed, a right-wing nut-job fascist, or else the likely author of the Ron Paul newsletters, has infiltrated the editorial offices of the paper of record. This Sunday, the Times “€œpublic editor,”€ Clark Hoyt, released some of the hate mail he’s been receiving about the paper’s new editorialist. These include letters suggesting that the “€œtraiterous [sic] piece of filth be hung by his ankles from a lamp post and beaten by the mob.”€ Although this last message was unhinged, it seems to have been but a particularly vivid expression of widespread outrage.

The new editorialist in question is William Kristol, who over the past week has joined David Brooks as the second “€œconservative voice”€ on the op-ed page.

Kristol is clearly very much taken with his new position on the “€œright wing”€ of the New York Times and has made the effort to be punchy and shock his new readership with opinions like, “€œSome of us would much prefer a non-liberal and non-Democratic administration.”€

In today’s installment, Mr. Conservative called out the Democrats for refusing to “€œadmit real success [in Iraq] because that success has been achieved under the leadership of … George W. Bush. The horror!”€

Kristol’s praise for Bush aside, this morning’s column seems to mark the advent of a rather convivial relationship.

Kristol will offer familiar refrains: that that liberals are ignoring evidence that the Surge is working, that violence is down across the board in Iraq, and that in Anbar province the Sunnis have turned against al-Qaeda and linked up with U.S. forces. Reading the column over the morning bagel and cappuccino, the thoughtful subscriber will offer the familiar retorts: that the drop in violence is meaningless if it’s not accompanied by political progress in Baghdad and that arming religious factions does not bode well for the future of Iraq as a unified country.

Blah blah blah”€”both sides will have their say, and the lines separating the Hannitys from the Colmes will be reaffirmed.                

I guess this kind of sparring match might amount to intellectual diversity of a kind, but it’s an intellectual diversity that Times readers will be very comfortable with. They”€™ll disagree with Kristol on tactical questions of U.S. foreign policy but little else.  

As Marcus Epstin details in his recent piece for VDARE, on the issues of immigration, abortion, and the welfare state, Kristol and liberals are on very much the same page. Furthermore, Kristol is a different animal than the neoconservatives surrounding David Horowitz, such Robert Spencer, who generally take firmer stances against illegal immigration and depict the war on terror as a confrontation between America and jihad. Kristol, on the other hand, is much more comfortable talking about “€œnation-building,”€ “€œdemocraticization,”€ “€œthe expansion of freedom in all the world”€ and all the rest of it”€”a language well understood by his new readership, even if they might have a few disagreements about the best way to bring these noble things about.

Kristol’s hiring does amount to a kind of FOX-ification of the paper of record, but then not in the way that its concerned readers imagine. Who’s a conservative? Someone who supports gay marriage, has spoken well of LBJ’s “€œGreat Society,”€ thinks mass illegal immigration is just fine, and wants to use America’s armed forces to spread democracy in Babylon? (all of which, by the way, are views embraced by the Times‘s “€œconservative”€ columnists.) Yes you are!”€”if you support the war in Iraq.

It’s a rather convenient fable”€”told both by liberals wanting to plop all the blame for our foreign-policy disasters down on the other side and neocons seeking “€œequal time”€ writing gigs in the papers of record.  



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