Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Conservatives and the New York Times

William Kristol never really took hold for me as a conservative columnist at the New York Times. Kristol's neocon creds are unimpeachable, but he never really shook things up at the newspaper or in punditland. He was, in a word, milquetoast.

Thus all of the stirrings on the left and right
at the news of Kristol's last column yesterday are quite interesting. Leftists want Kristol dead and buried, so it was incomplete shadenfreude yesterday at some of the top nihilist blogs. Driftglass well represents this derangement:

Change I can believe in ....

If true, I would have to rate
these six words as the happiest to be published by the New York Times as a result their own actions in the last year:

"This is William Kristol’s last column."
Of course, based on the Law of the Conservation of Villager Idiocy, I assume he has been let go to, oh, say, boss PBS, or take over as editor-in-chief at the L.A. Times, or run Citibank, or work part-time as the $175,0000/month rebranding manager for the Palin/Plumber '12 exploratory committee.

But for the next little bit I can dream that a just Universe has laced up its kicking shoes and finally, finally, finally punted this smirking, bestial, blood-soaked hack into the ranks of the unemployed and that the next we'll hear of him will be a mention in the Walton Family house organ as "Greeter of the Month" at the Sadr City WalMart.
Bestial, blood-soaked hack? Whew, that does really capture the essence of the hardline left's excoriation the Bush administration's war "cheerleaders."

On the right there's some chatter about who should replace Kristol at the Times. Since I rarely read the paper's editorial pages,
Patrick Ruffini's argument really hit home:

Let me first state that I don't particularly care who writes for the New York Times op-ed page, and think all the handwringing about who will replace Bill Kristol is a collosal waste of time for conservatives ....

I will, however, say this about the selection process for the New York Times op-ed page.

The goal of conservative new media should not be to legitimize the status quo in media, but to challenge it and shift the balance of power. To hang on the prestige of a Times appointment is a mostly useless exercise by navel-gazing pundits whose sole concern is accurately describing the status quo, not moving the ball forward.

Doubly disturbing is the notion that the Times' token conservative should be someone who is acceptable to sensibility of liberal (and hence more civilized) Times readers; that only a certain type of conservative will do - a "smart," "reasonable" figure worthy of dining with President Obama.

I have a great deal of respect for Bill Kristol and David Brooks (or for that matter, Charles Krauthammer and George Will), but they play a very defined role in the process - which is to represent a safe flavor of Beltway-centric conservatism that is acceptable within the Acela corridor. I appreciate that someone has to play this role, but by engaging in this parlor game, we are playing with fire: feeding the left's desire to elevate a narrow elite of Times-worthy conservative pundits whose job it is to hold the braying Coulterite masses in check.

Hmm, the Coulterite masses? That's interesting, mainly because I've noted many times on this page that I'm actually not the biggest fan of folks like Coulter and Malkin. It's mostly the lack of nuance, not to mention a kind of unwashed right-wing anti-intellectualism, which I don't think should dominate conservative punditry.

That's said, we need fighters, and one thing I'm going to do myself over this next few years is to abstain somewhat from intra-conservative squabbles over doctrine and ideology. Whatever happens on the right is nowhere near as diabollically disastrous as the venomous effluvient seeping from the funk-cheese cracks of blogs like Driftglass and their nihilist link sponsors.

Be sure to read the rest of Ruffini, where he makes the case for Rush Limbaugh as Kristol's replacement at the Times.


El Jefe Maximo said...

Your next to the last paragraph, about the avoidance of intra-conservative feuds over doctrine, is spot-on. We should hang together lest we hang separately.

Average American said...

Patrick Ruffini---"The goal of conservative new(s) media should not be to legitimize the status quo in media, but to challenge it and shift the balance of power."

This is absolutely mandatory if we are EVER to achieve an unbiased media, absolutely mandatory! Will that day ever come? We'll see.

Anonymous said...

What's too bad is that the majority of Americans don't read blogs. If most people saw the way liberal pundits and thinkers write, as you showed with the Driftglass quote, they'd be appalled at the ridiculous use of hyperbole. Republicans are hate- and fear-mongers? Yeah, right. We are realists. The left hates - they hate officials, columnists, and anyone who disagrees with them.