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February 11, 2008

That Wacky, Wacky Kristol - Kiss of Death Edition
Posted by Michael Cohen

So after victories in Nebraska, Washington, Louisiana and Maine for Barack Obama I figured things were looking pretty good for the Illinois Senator. Then I read what Bill Kristol had to say in the New York Times today:

After his strong showing over the weekend, it is Obama who now has the clearer path to his party’s nomination.

Kristol goes on to basically argue that it's Obama's race to lose. If this isn't the Kiss of Death I don't know what is. Bill Kristol has been wrong so many times, he has invented new and creative ways to be wrong. Here are a few choice examples.

July 15, 2007

If Petraeus succeeds in Iraq, and a Republican wins in 2008, Bush will be viewed as a successful president. I like the odds.

March 7, 2005

Just four weeks after the Iraqi election of January 30, 2005, it seems increasingly likely that that date will turn out to have been a genuine turning point. The fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, ended an era. September 11, 2001, ended an interregnum. In the new era in which we now live, 1/30/05 could be a key moment--perhaps the key moment so far--in vindicating the Bush Doctrine as the right response to 9/11. And now there is the prospect of further and accelerating progress.

April 4, 2003

There's been a certain amount of pop sociology in America ... that the Shia can't get along with the Sunni and the Shia in Iraq just want to establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There's almost no evidence of that at all. Iraq's always been very secular

See here for an even more comprehensive list of Bill Kristol's wrongness.

I tell you, this is the best news the Clinton campaign has received in days.


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One thing about mainstream media pundits that differentiates them from their blogospheric counterparts is how seldom they attack one another.

"Attack" is probably too strong a word. Usually bloggers go after other commentators with the kind of essay that appears here ("Nyah, nyah, Kristol was wrong about Iraq so he's wrong about the Democratic primaries"). There has to be a reason why these kinds of posts appear so often. It can't be because their authors think the targets of this criticism will notice. It isn't likely they think their readers will think less well of their targets; indeed, the majority of blogs on both left and right tend to attract readers already disposed to agree with most of their arguments. There is always the Bandar-log Theory -- that the real message of posts attacking media commentators is "notice me! notice me!" -- but for this to be true most bloggers would have to be more insecure personally than I believe is the case.

Maybe the best explanation involves a need for liberals and conservatives to advertise their respective credentials to people who already agree with them about most things, most of the time. Though this can be done in several ways, none are as quick or easy as sending up a signal that says, "you know this guy you don't like? Well, I don't like him! I think he's just wacky!" According to this theory, bloggers' propensity to run down other commentators springs from a kind of tribal identification imperative -- a need to let people in your tribe (group, clique, political faction, whatever) know that you are One of Us.

The frequency with which bloggers shake their rhetorical fists at other commnetators would suggest that this is one powerful imperative. I suppose mainstream media commentators are subject to it as well, and are just more restrained, most of the time, because they get paid by newspapers and magazines that have different priorities.

Zathras, it's a fair post. To be honest, my reason for focusing on folks like Kristol and Krauthammer is that the conservative narrative has become so embedded in our political discourse that rarely do you see examples of individuals trying to dissect these arguments. I'm a lone voice in the wilderness, but I think it's important to expose the mistruths and straight out lies that have become part and parcel of the conservative narrative about America.

Oh, and it's also a lot of fun!

If I had a dollar for every columnist, radio talk show host, and blogger who at some point has described him or herself as a "lone voice in the wilderness," I think I'd have enough money to run for President myself.

Heartened though I am that heroism and courageous individuality are such plentiful commodities in the world of American political commentary, I have this nagging doubt. I suppose it's inspired by the evidently sincere belief that a post the theme of which is "nyah, nyah, Kristol was wrong about Iraq so he's wrong about the Democratic primaries" is really about exposing "mistruths and straight out lies." This seems like a fairly inexpensive form of heroism to me.

Zathras, don't take this wrong way, but lighten up! Seriously, it was a tongue in cheek post, nothing heroic at all. And I certainly wouldn't argue otherwise. If you don't like reading my critiques of Kristol, Krauthammer et al, that's fine it's a free country . . . lots of other blogs out there to read.

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