Friday, December 28, 2007

The New York Times Goes Neoconservative!

I'm skimming around online a bit here, and I've just learned that William Kristol has just been hired as a columnist by the New York Times!

The scoop is over at Memeorandum.

You got to love this! Kristol at NYT will drive the antiwar nuts, well, nuts!

I suspect most people are in the know, but just in case, Kristol's the publisher of the Weekly Standard, which has become one of the top-tier neocon journals of opinion in recent years (especially with the demise of the Public Interest).

Hard-left forces are already denouncing NYT's betrayal - an "abominaton" says David Sirota in a quote over at Crooks and Liars, and don't miss this comment thread over at the Huffington Post!

So what's the beef? Neoconservatives have become the pariahs of contemporary American politics.
As Jamie Kerchik noted recently:

Today, no other political label gets thrown around as frequently, or with as much reckless abandon, as “neocon.” The most popular liberal blogs name and shame neocons, real or imagined, on a daily basis. The term is used in a fashion similar to the way “communist” was during the 1950s—an all-encompassing indictment—this time indicating an imperialistic and “warmongering,” even an “insane,” worldview. The anti-neocon fervor has reached truly McCarthyite proportions: just a few months ago, Steve Clemons of the left-wing New America Foundation argued in favor of “Purging the Neocons from the American Soul.”
The attacks come from both left and right. Liberals can't stand the necons because of their top policy-making leadership in the Bush administration, and especially their leading role in the push to war in Iraq. Some on the conservative right (I use that label loosely - very loosely) - like the whacked-out libertarian Ron Paul backers and the Paleoconservative Buchananites - find themselves equally enraged by the neoconservative "war party" in Washington, D.C.

You've heard he attacks, on Kristol and all the other members of the "neocon cabal": They were wrong about Iraq; there were no WMD; Iraqis didn't greet American troops as liberators; the war wasn't over in a few weeks: the Iraqi insurgent dead-enders missed their dead-end; the real (legitimate) war is in Afghanistan; Iran's destabilizing influence in Iraq is a hoax; the new front of global terror is Pakistan...and on and on and on.

These are the same folks
who early this year declared the Iraq war lost, and who are now blaming the Bhutto assassination on the Bush administration (here and here). These are the same hardline forces who called General David Petraeus at traitor (when he should've been recognized as Man of the Year). All of this anti-neoconservatism continues amid the most dramatic - and underreported - strategic comeback in the history of modern warfare.

Frankly, for all my dislike of the editorial stance of the New York Times, the Kristol assignment is a journalistic masterstroke. The Times' reputation has collapsed in recent years, following the Jayson Blair scandal, the controversial leak of the Bush adminstration's clandestine - and successful -
electronic surveillance program, and the steady decline in recent years of the broadsheet's reputation as the country's "unofficial newspaper of record."

Certainly, the Bush administration's success in thwarting the Democrats in 2007 (who badly overestimated their "mandate" coming out of the 2006 midterms), combined with the continued importance of foreign policy among American voters, suggests that the Times editors realized they needed to get hip to alternative - even mainstream - ideological perspectives.

The knives are still out for the neocons in many quarters, of course. Michael Desch - a political scientist at Texas A&M - has
a new article out attacking Rudy Giuliani's neoconservative campaign advisors at the paleocon flagship, the American Conservative.

And for good reason: Neoconservatives still hold tremendous influence, and the positive concatenation of forces I've mentioned here bodes well for conservatives generally in 2008.
As Michael Tomasky notes in the forthcoming New York Review of Books:

On foreign policy, despite the Iraq war, the neoconservatives still hold tremendous sway in GOP circles...With respect to the future [according to Jacob Heilbrunn, in his new book, They Knew They Were Right]...the neocons' main potential competitors, the foreign policy realists, have not prepared for long-term battle the way the neocons have.
Neoconservatism isn't perfect, obviously. But thank goodness Kristol's holding down the fort for one of the most comprehensive political ideologies in American politics today. I look forward to reading his essays!

Photo Credit for William Kristol:
Fox News