Monday, September 21, 2009

Irving Kristol, Godfather of Nepotism

I suppose that Irving Kristol cashing out during the Obama Presidency was just bad timing.

Had he passed during The Bush Grindhouse days, where they adopted the Neonitwism Papa Kristol drew up (expanded and bastardized by his son, Little Billy Kristol), they likely would have given him a State Funeral, complete with a 21-Country Invasion-and-Occupation salute.

Papa Kristol died last Friday, and you could have found numerous posts heralding him as a "thinker", and "intellectual".

Perhaps, or just he created the space, with a few tablets from the mountains, that spawned the Right Wing Freak Show, giving birth to the Flying Monkeys of today.

Then, again, reading Steve Clemons' "Irving Kristol Dies: How Will the Neocon Church Now Divide?" has me thinking that, forget neoconservatism, Papa Kristol was the Mother Monster of ''Alien', as he writes about Neoconservative scholar and author Francis Fukuyama, who he says learned "at the knee of Irving Kristol" but was embroiled in a food fight with the newer, younger neonitwits, like Charles Krauthammer.

Fukuyama said, as I recall, that he didn't need lessons from Krauthammer on what neoconservatism was all about. In fact, Fukuyama felt that what Krauthammer and some others were writing and speaking about Iraq contradicted neoconservative perspectives. He said that he and other neocons used to criticize government's hubris for thinking it could change school test scores in Anacostia -- and now some of these same people were arguing that America could easily generate social outcomes in Baghdad.

In other words, Fukuyama was intimating that the Iraq escapade was a violation of everything Irving Kristol taught him and stood for.

This vignette is important because I think that a number of leading neoconservatives -- including Fukuyama and David Frum as well as others like Kenneth Adelman -- never really left neoconservatism as much as the modern variant left them.

This leads me to suspect that in the wake of Irving Kristol's passing, there may be an effort to redefine an alternative version of neoconservative thinking and perspective than that which Bill Kristol and his close ally, Robert Kagan, have fashioned.

The church split with Fukuyama, but the neoconservative church may split yet again, and again.
What, Kristol's death is just going to give us a parade of bigger, louder, more dangerous, neonitwits?

And, leave it to The Washington Post to offer in its' tribute, Turd Blossom as the first voice they quote;
Karl Rove, a Republican strategist who advised President George W. Bush, called Mr. Kristol an "intellectual entrepreneur who helped energize several generations of public policy thinkers."

Through editing, writing and speaking, Mr. Kristol "made it a moral imperative to rouse conservatism from mainstream Chamber of Commerce boosterism to a deep immersion in ideas," Rove said. He also said that Mr. Kristol helped create a synthesis of Cold War Democrats and Ronald Reagan White House anticommunist hawks that influenced foreign and military policy in the 1980s.

"Influenced foreign and military policy?"

How's about hijacking it, stealing an election and installing The Commander Guy and his Shadow President to bring to life all the neonitwit wet dreams of invasion and occupation, illegal spying and wiretapping, and, of course, boner-inducing torture.

Neocirclejerks, is what they should be labeled.

The gem of remembrances, though, comes from TBogg, over on Firedoglake, tagging a piece by Paul Campos, of the Rocky Mountain News, back in January;
I once heard a recording of a BBC broadcast announcing the birth of Queen Elizabeth II of England's son. The announcer intoned, "Her Majesty has given birth to . . . a prince."

This struck me as a particularly stark illustration of how one's place in the world can be determined by the accident of birth. At least, I thought, I live in a country where it's never announced that someone has given birth to an electrical engineer or a pastry chef or an under secretary for East Asian affairs.


On the other hand, you have the career of William Kristol. Kristol, the son of neo-conservative doyen Irving Kristol, was just fired by The New York Times, for which he had been cranking out an opinion column since last January (technically, his contract wasn't renewed).

A few months ago, my blogging colleague Robert Farley pointed out that "in the modern configuration of the conservative media machine, Kristol occupies an unparalleled central position of power . . . Right-wing journalism and punditry is absurdly nepotistic; everything depends on relationships, (and) Kristol always seems to be" at the center of these relationships.


Which brings me to this charming vignette, courtesy of blog commenter Harry Hopkins:

"I remember back in the late 1990s, when Ira Katznelson, an eminent political scientist at Columbia, came to deliver a guest lecture. Prof. Katznelson described a lunch he had with Irving Kristol during the first Bush administration.

"The talk turned to William Kristol, then Dan Quayle's chief of staff, and how he got his start in politics. Irving recalled how he talked to his friend Harvey Mansfield at Harvard, who secured William a place there as both an undergrad and graduate student; how he talked to Pat Moynihan, then Nixon's domestic policy adviser, and got William an internship at the White House; how he talked to friends at the RNC [Republican National Committee] and secured a job for William after he got his Harvard Ph.D.; and how he arranged with still more friends for William to teach at Penn and the Kennedy School of Government.

"With that, Prof. Katznelson recalled, he then asked Irving what he thought of affirmative action. 'I oppose it,' Irving replied. 'It subverts meritocracy.' "

Who knew he was a Guinness commercial in-waiting!

"Neoconservatism" was just a new label for nepotism?


Bonus Papa Kristol Dirt Nap Riffs

Wonkette: Irving Kristol Dies

PBS: From Memoirs of a Trotskyist by Irving Kristol

Bruce Bartlett: Remembering Irving Kristol

Michael J.W. Stickings: Irving Kristol (1920-2009)

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