pageok
pageok
pageok
Bill Kristol, New Columnist for the N.Y. Times:

Kristol has joined David Brooks as a conservative voice on the Times' op-ed pages. They have a lot in common: Jewish New Yorkers with elite educational and high-powered political credentials, and fellow believers in "National Greatness" (i.e., Big Government) (neo)conservatism. I can't help but think that the Times' editors' thought process is something like this: if I absolutely had to talk to a conservative Republican at a cocktail party, who would it be?

DavidBernstein (mail):
In other words, folks at the Times think conservatives are basically from outer space, but Kristol and Brooks seem "familiar" enough to be almost human.
1.1.2008 10:35pm
OrinKerr:
Kristol strikes me as a strange choice: I think of him more as a political operative than a conservative thinker or interesting writer.
1.1.2008 10:38pm
Ilya Somin:
IF the Times is going to have more than one nonliberal columnist, I don't see the point of having two with virtually identical views and backgrounds. Brooks even used to write for Kristol's Weekly Standard, if I remember correctly. It would have made more sense to get a nonliberal very different from Brooks, such as a libertarian or traditionalist.
1.1.2008 10:39pm
OrinKerr:
Ilya,

It's the Times: that page has a long tradition of virtually identical views.
1.1.2008 11:00pm
sbron:
Someone like William Kristol who dismisses
legitimate concerns about immigration, lack of assimilation
and overall population growth as "Yahoos" is hard
to describe as a conservative. See his editorial
"Y is for Yahoo," which could have been written
for the Nation.

http://tinyurl.com/322z9r


I hardly consider those who believe in limiting legal immigration to "only" 1 million per year and ending illegal
entry to be "anti-immigration."
1.1.2008 11:01pm
frankcross (mail):
I don't see Kristol as much like Brooks. Brooks is only marginally conservative, in a political sense. He commonly writes against Republican orthodoxy. Kristol is Republican orthodoxy.
1.1.2008 11:02pm
sbron:
Meant to say

"Someone like William Kristol who dismisses those with
legitimate concerns about immigration, lack of assimilation
and overall population growth as "Yahoos" is hard
to describe as a conservative."
1.1.2008 11:04pm
anonlawprof (mail):
Kind of like how another bastion of the liberal establishment, Harvard Law, chooses "conservative" faculty.
1.1.2008 11:09pm
OrinKerr:
sbron,

I'm pretty sure it doesn't work to come up with single issues -- or single statements about single issues -- on which a person's position either includes or excludes him from being labeled a conservative.
1.1.2008 11:15pm
mrshl (www):
Indeed, an awful lot of labor folks would agree with the "conservative" immigration position sbron describes.
1.1.2008 11:23pm
sbron:
Except that immigration is not just about immigration --
it is about whether a nation is defined by borders and a common set of values, or if it is just a multicultural
free trade zone. The question is also whether
we believe Americans are self-sufficient, hardworking and intelligent people who we should invest in, or are
ignorant lazy xenophobes who can only be saved by mass immigration.

For these reasons and more immigration is the most
important conservative/right versus liberal/left issue
at hand.
1.1.2008 11:25pm
Ilya Somin:
The question is also whether
we believe Americans are self-sufficient, hardworking and intelligent people who we should invest in, or are
ignorant lazy xenophobes who can only be saved by mass immigration.


This is a false dichotomy. Our self-sufficiency, relative hard work, and intelligence are in large part due to past immigration. And future immigration can keep the process going.
1.1.2008 11:40pm
deenk:
One would think that the NYT could have found a conservative pundit who has been (at least) occasionally right in his or her predictions. Bill Kristol has extremely low credibility. Perhaps name recognition and a lively, glib manner are seen as more important criteria for hiring a columnist.
1.1.2008 11:56pm
Beran Panasper:
the NYT could have found a conservative pundit who has been (at least) occasionally right in his or her predictions.

Since that standard is not applied to the likes of Krugman and Dowd, it hardly seems fair to apply it to Kristol...
1.2.2008 12:01am
OrinKerr:
Sbron writes:
The question is also whether
we believe Americans are self-sufficient, hardworking and intelligent people who we should invest in, or are
ignorant lazy xenophobes who can only be saved by mass immigration.
Funny, my instincts are to see it in exactly the opposite way. You could say the question is whether we believe in the American dream, in which people come from other shores ready to work hard and pull themselves up by their bootstraps Horatio Alger style, or whether we need big government protectionism to artificially limit the supply of labor. From that perspective, the pro-immigration view is the conservative one, and the anti-immigration view is the liberal one. Of course, that's not the only way to look at it, but that's the point: there is no one "conservative" view.
1.2.2008 12:08am
theobromophile (www):

It would have made more sense to get a nonliberal very different from Brooks, such as a libertarian or traditionalist.

Apologies in advance for the cynicism... but why would the NYT want to hire two conservatives of different viewpoints, which discredits the idea that conservatives all act, think, and vote with one brain, in a unification of mental activity that puts Madeline L'Engle's "It" to shame.
1.2.2008 1:48am
fishbane (mail):
From that perspective, the pro-immigration view is the conservative one, and the anti-immigration view is the liberal one. Of course, that's not the only way to look at it, but that's the point: there is no one "conservative" view.

Certainly, if one discounts the desires of most of the politicians currently wearing the 'conservative' mantle and only looks to certain classical definitions. And I realize you hedged on that point, and that's entirely fair.

But the fact remains that anti-immigration sentiment is mostly constrained to what is currently considered the more right of center members of the more right of center party in the U.S. I wish more folks (from both sides) would make this a debate instead of triangulation, but there we have it. And yes, it is shameless triangulation - Look at Rudy.

I'm not going to get in to NAFTA and the odd reversal of Democratic priorities that went in to that, because it is late and that's a topic sufficiently interesting to warrant more time than I want to put it to it here. Suffice to say that I think a leading indicator of what the other team will do is pretty evident in what the last team has success supporting. There's a game theory/economic aspect to it that has little to do with ideology.

-- A libertarian voting Democrat this year.
1.2.2008 2:10am
fishbane (mail):
Oh, and I forgot to make that not entirely off-topic. In a way the NYT is doing us a service by publishing Kristol. There's now a much more visible way to know how to bet on events - read him, assume that his viewpoint will sway people but that the stated outcomes of his policy goals will be the exact opposite of what actually happens, and he's a useful predictive tool. Of course, he could have stayed bottled up with his cohort, and the spread on those bets would have stayed good. Now everyone's going to figure it out.
1.2.2008 2:15am
Mr. Liberal:

if I absolutely had to talk to a conservative Republican


The NY Times did not have to hire a conservative at all. And in my view, it shouldn't have. I don't believe in affirmative action for conservatives.
1.2.2008 5:07am
tarheel:
I suspect the Times' recent experience with a self-styled libertarian columnist (John Tierney) permanently soured them on the idea. He was utterly unreadable. Let's face it, they are picking someone not for the quality of his ideas but for his ability to attract readers (whether those readers love him or hate him).
1.2.2008 7:00am
David M. Nieporent (www):
It's the Times: that page has a long tradition of virtually identical views.
As Radley Balko writes:
A pretty uninspiring choice. It means the Times op-ed page will be well-represented by big government liberals (Krugman, Herbert), big government moderates (Friedman, Kristof), and big government conservatives (Brooks, Kristol). I do believe that just about covers the full range of acceptable political opinion, doesn't it?
1.2.2008 7:07am
alkali (mail):
Kristol is genuinely reviled on the left. It's hard for me to imagine that the Times editors are (i) both hard-left and (ii) retain any respect for Kristol.
1.2.2008 8:28am
Pete Freans (mail):
Given Kristol's label of a neoconservative and his staunch and unwavering support for the War on Terror in Iraq, this is a surprising choice. Brooks never struck me as an ideologue, whereas Kristol's policy positions seem more dogmatic yet are well-reasoned and researched.

I guess the NYT is throwing me the proverbial bone (or small biscuit).
1.2.2008 8:45am
Michael B (mail):
Kristol's is a substantial and consistently coherent voice; even when he invites disagreement it can take place along those same lines.
1.2.2008 8:55am
PLR:
I don't see Kristol as much like Brooks. Brooks is only marginally conservative, in a political sense. He commonly writes against Republican orthodoxy. Kristol is Republican orthodoxy.

Only if you ignore all Republican orthodoxy preceding the year 2001.
1.2.2008 9:04am
NaG (mail):
I think Kristol is actually rather easy for liberals to ignore. He has no "bite," there's no danger that he will present any arguments that may sway an otherwise unconvinced NYT reader. It would be like the Washington Times hiring Carville -- a person who talks past the readership might as well be blank space on a page.
1.2.2008 9:11am
Craig Oren (mail):
It would be interesting to hear concrete suggestions of alternatives to Kristol.

The Times and Kristol have a record of poor relations. Kristol has said that the Times is "irredeemable" or to that effect. And the Times once referred to Kristol as "Dan Quayle's brain."
1.2.2008 9:50am
srf (mail):
Why do we label Kristol as a "conservative"? My understanding is that he advocates (1) continual military intervention in the internal affairs of foreign nations; (2) expansion of federal government authority, particularly law enforcement authority; (3) expansion of government intrusion into the privacy of US citizens; (4) expansion of executive's power to act unilaterally with the force of law; (5) expansion of the federal government's authority to extract confessions through the use of physically coercive techniques; (6) expansion of the government's power to detain people indefinitely without due process; and (7) expansion of executive secrecy and privilege from judicial or legislative review. What classic American principles or institutions is he conserving? Or maybe he's just trying to conserve the power of the current elite? I'm just confused by the label...
1.2.2008 10:06am
Spartacus (www):
Maybe the Times hires these writers because Kristol and Brooks are, to the libertarian leaner who is on the fence about some lib-v-con issues, the least sympathetic and confirm the worst of the Times' stereotypes about anyone who disagrees with itds editors.
1.2.2008 10:20am
PLR:
Maybe the Times hires these writers because Kristol and Brooks are, to the libertarian leaner who is on the fence about some lib-v-con issues, the least sympathetic and confirm the worst of the Times' stereotypes about anyone who disagrees with itds editors.

So which conservative commentators are not brain dead tools of the establishment these days? Buchanan?
1.2.2008 10:52am
Uh_Clem (mail):
...maybe he's just trying to conserve the power of the current elite?

BINGO!

Anyway, my take is that the Times hired Kristol for the same reason they hired Tierney - because he's so laughably and consistently wrong that he serves as a buffoonish cartoon version of a conservative. Sort of like the NR giving Ward Churchill a column - the guys serves as his own best rebuttal.

Which, of course, begs the question of why they did the same thing with Dowd....
1.2.2008 10:57am
Dan Weber (www):
This is going to make it even harder for me to tell Kristof and Kristol apart in my lead-paint addled brain.

1.2.2008 11:00am
titus32:
So which conservative commentators are not brain dead tools of the establishment these days? Buchanan?

George Will -- probably the most prominent conservative commentator in the country.
1.2.2008 11:22am
Chris Smith (mail):
@Mr. Liberal

The NY Times did not have to hire a conservative at all. And in my view, it shouldn't have. I don't believe in affirmative action for conservatives.

Could you perhaps elaborate on how any sort of discriminatory affirmative action is not paradoxical?
1.2.2008 11:25am
Beran Panasper:
George Will -- probably the most prominent conservative commentator in the country.

Oh please... he is just another harmless Establishment pet "conservative".
1.2.2008 11:34am
titus32:
Oh please... he is just another harmless Establishment pet "conservative".

Who has consistently criticized the establishment on the war and spending? I don't think so.
1.2.2008 11:36am
therut:
I just wish they would hire ANYONE from outside the urban thinking conservatives or liberals(or progressive as the new word which is much more degratory). How about the rest of the COUNTRY? I am tired of the so-called paper of record. Sure.
1.2.2008 11:41am
bluhawkk (mail):
re: Kristol, with NYT revenues plummeting, they need to appeal to a broadened political spectrum. If indeed that is the intent, I don't see this small 'fix' as useful.
1.2.2008 11:48am
Conn3ecticut Lawyer (mail):
I guess I'm disappointed that the NYT didn't go for the gusto - Kristol is fine, but he's pretty similar to Brooks - what would have been exciting would have been, say, Mark Steyn. Jeeze, that might have caused too many NYT readers to choke on their donuts.
1.2.2008 11:49am
M. Simon (mail) (www):
The question is also whether we believe Americans are self-sufficient, hardworking and intelligent people who we should invest in, or are ignorant lazy xenophobes who can only be saved by mass immigration.

If you go by the enrollment in hard subjects like physics, engineering, and mathematics I'd say that ignorant lazy is a pretty good description.
1.2.2008 11:50am
Guest101:
David,

Your ability to play the poor persecuted conservative is truly unparalleled. Clearly, the NYT's decision to give Kristol an op-ed column is more evidence of the big bad MSM's prejudice against the right wing.
1.2.2008 11:54am
M. Simon (mail) (www):
John Tierney is a very readable writer. For me.

However, I mostly know him through his science stuff so maybe I'm not getting the whole picture.
1.2.2008 11:54am
PLR:
George Will -- probably the most prominent conservative commentator in the country.

Exactly. It's a pretty short list.
1.2.2008 12:20pm
Thales (mail) (www):
Orin said:

"It's the Times: that page has a long tradition of virtually identical views."

I have to disagree with that characterization in light of recent history. Bob Herbert (old school liberal, emphasis on civil rights, the environment and race and poverty issues), Paul Krugman (economically erudite new liberal with an emphasis on both market mechanisms and market failure) and Tom Friedman (foreign policy belligerent and pro-business moderate with some liberal inclinations or pretensions) are pretty far apart on the "left" side of the spectrum (none are truly Left; you can find that in The Nation and Mother Jones).

I have enjoyed a lot of Brooks's columns, as they are frequently sensible and at least partially erudite (this is less true when he seems to reflexively slip into partisan battle mode-then he just gets silly). But I agree with Orin that Kristol is a poor choice for adding another token conservative. How about a Cato person (or maybe someone more libertarianish but less of a think tank hack)?
1.2.2008 12:44pm
OrinKerr:
Guest101 writes:
David, Your ability to play the poor persecuted conservative is truly unparalleled. Clearly, the NYT's decision to give Kristol an op-ed column is more evidence of the big bad MSM's prejudice against the right wing.
What a puzzling comment. As I read David's post, he doesn't claim any persecution. Rather, he is suggesting that the liberals who run the New York Times have a very limited understanding of "the other side," and have made a choice by picking someone who appears worthy based on elite credentials rather than excellence or diversity of opinion. Whether that is right or wrong, I don't see what it has to do with "prejudice against the right wing".
1.2.2008 12:45pm
Bender (mail):
Someone else mentioned George Will. The editorial staff of the NYT was quite right not even to consider Will: Well-written and well-reasoned arguments from a true conservative might cause such cognitive dissonance among some of the NYT's more cosseted readers as to cause the heads of said readers to hurt and perhaps even explode a la Videodrome.
1.2.2008 12:55pm
Clioman (mail):
Given the performance of its stock in the last five years, I'd say this is an act of desperation: now they have TWO conservatives on staff. No doubt Putz Sulzberger and staff are earnestly asking themselves, "What more could a great newspaper do?"
1.2.2008 12:58pm
srg:
John Tierney is eminently readable.
1.2.2008 1:00pm
JunkYardLawDog (mail):
If they really wanted to bring in readers and excite the current ones, they would have gone with someone like Neal Boortz or Rush Limbaugh, but the Times and other big mainstream media would rather continue their slow march to extinction than make any real changes to balance their point of views.

Ilya and OK like many others make statements about anti-immigration thought without distinguishing between anti-ILLEGAL immigration and anti-immigration. Conservatives don't disagree with the past mostly LEGAL immigration that brought people in through places like Ellis Island and encouraged cultural assimilation as soon as possible.

Current boneheaded laws and practices are for an invasion of ILLEGAL immigrants who are encouraged NOT to be assimilated into the USA culture. It is the lack of control of our borders (which equals the loss of sovereignty for the country) combined with a death of the melting-pot theory of assimilation (that produced the great things to come out of past LEGAL waves of immigration) to which conservatives AND ABOUT 70 TO 80 PERCENT OF THE COUNTRY AS A WHOLE are very much against.

Says the "Dog"
1.2.2008 1:32pm
Spartacus (www):
So which conservative commentators are not brain dead tools of the establishment these days?

They could have *gasp* hired any number of libertarian commentators that might have appeared "conservative" on any number of issues to the papers liberal readers, but whose rational arguments and love for liberty could have won over those same readers, or at least inclined them to read the columns.
1.2.2008 1:54pm
r78:
Setting aside the question of whether the Times is, in fact, a liberal publication (as so many seem to believe), are there any "conservative" national publications that make a point of hiring a "liberal" to offer opinions?
1.2.2008 2:02pm
Thales (mail) (www):
"Setting aside the question of whether the Times is, in fact, a liberal publication (as so many seem to believe), are there any "conservative" national publications that make a point of hiring a "liberal" to offer opinions?"

No, but most self-styled conservative national publications alread exist as a counterweight to the perceived left/liberalism of the "MSM." Of course in the U.S., such "leftism" is basically a slightly softer version of protection of the interests of the business and power elite than those policies which the so-called conservatives favor; in other words it isn't very left at all by any broad-minded standard.
1.2.2008 2:56pm
Mr. Liberal:

Whether that is right or wrong, I don't see what it has to do with "prejudice against the right wing".


As I read David Bernstein, it does seem that this post is all about "prejudice against the right wing."

Again, I quote:


I can't help but think that the Times' editors' thought process is something like this: if I absolutely had to talk to a conservative Republican at a cocktail party, who would it be? (bold added)


Apparently, this horrendous hiring of Kristol would not have happened, but for "prejudice against the right wing."

If liberals who dominate the NY Times op-ed could actually stomach conservatives, they would understand the true and masterful intellectual wonders they offer, and choose more broadly from a variety of fine specimens so as to fully display the majestic diversity of thought that exists on the conservative side.

Guest 101 might be onto something. Maybe Bernstein has a persecution complex. Has it occurred to Bernstein the reason that the NY Times does not choose "conservatives" more like him (I personally do not believe he is really a conservative) is that he (and those who think like him) are so far outside of mainstream conservatism? For the same reason, the NY Times op-ed does not have any columns written by communists.

Not every fringe group is going to be represented in the NY Times op-ed page. That is not a function of persecution. That is a function of reader interest and word limits.
1.2.2008 3:00pm
Guest101:

What a puzzling comment. As I read David's post, he doesn't claim any persecution. Rather, he is suggesting that the liberals who run the New York Times have a very limited understanding of "the other side," and have made a choice by picking someone who appears worthy based on elite credentials rather than excellence or diversity of opinion. Whether that is right or wrong, I don't see what it has to do with "prejudice against the right wing".

Orin,

Perhaps I've been conditioned to read all of Prof. Bernstein's posts for right-wing paranoia, or perhaps you simply don't see it because your own personality and posting style lacks that attitude; I suspect it may be a little bit of both, but I can't help reading this post as thinly-veiled sarcasm suggesting that the wild-eyed liberals at the NYT can't stomach having a "real" conservative (of the sort Prof. Bernstein would presumably approve) on staff, so they hand out columns to those right-wingers who look most like the northeast-liberal-elite NYT editors themselves. I tend to think that Prof. Bernstein's first comment (which he curiously hid in the comments section rather than adding as an Update or revision to the main post):

In other words, folks at the Times think conservatives are basically from outer space, but Kristol and Brooks seem "familiar" enough to be almost human.

rather supports my interpretation-- viewing one's ideological opponents as something less than human, the view that Bernstein ascribes to the Times, is surely indicative of prejudice, don't you think?
1.2.2008 3:35pm
Vinegar Hill:
r78

You ask:

"are there any 'conservative' national publications that make a point of hiring a 'liberal' to offer opinions?"

You're missing the point, either ingenuously or disingenuously: The NYT pretends to be "The Paper of Record".

None of us on the Right or in the Center, I would assume, have any problem with, say, opinion journals, such as The Nation or TNR, being Loony Left, Liberal, or the Mirror Image of The National Review, The Weekly Standard, Commentary, or First Things.

And, try Fox News, esp. Brit Hume's news. He always has at least two liberals on his three-person panel. Actually, I can't stand some Fox News shows where they present a GOP operative vs. a Dem operative. It's balanced &fair, but uninformative. The NYT is unbalanced, unfair, &uninformative!
1.2.2008 3:40pm
titus32:
I tend to think that Prof. Bernstein's first comment (which he curiously hid in the comments section rather than adding as an Update or revision to the main post)

Yes -- you do seem paranoid.
1.2.2008 3:42pm
Vermando (mail) (www):
The Times also could have been driven by wanting to hire a conservative whose opinion matters. I say this with sadness as a I believe in small government conservatism. However, when your party throws the touchdown to win the homecoming football game and then leaves you to make out with another girl, you cannot very well complain when people assume that the other girl is the one who matters to him. Kristol and his ilk run the party right now - if you are not happy about it, wrest the bloody thing back from him. If the government today was half the size it was before the Republicans came into power, then I assume that the Times would be giving a small government a call. As it is, you cannot complain that they do not represent what has become little more than a fringe ideology in the party any more than interest groups on the left would complain that the Times' writers do not represent the diversity of their opinions.
1.2.2008 3:58pm
SIG357:
I don't believe in affirmative action for conservatives.


No, only for liberals.
1.2.2008 4:07pm
SIG357:
"Indeed, an awful lot of labor folks would agree with the "conservative" immigration position sbron describes."



So would the majority of the American people, of all political stripes.
1.2.2008 4:08pm
SIG357:
It would be interesting to hear concrete suggestions of alternatives to Kristol.



Somebody like Russ Douhat who writes at The Atlantic Monthly. Not saying I agree with him, but he's an interesting voice which Times readers never hear.
1.2.2008 4:11pm
SIG357:
Our self-sufficiency, relative hard work, and intelligence are in large part due to past immigration.

This is a tautology if "past" is defined broadly enough. Say, 1770 onwards. It's not very obvious that it is true if we pick a later point in time, e.g. 1960. Or 1930. Or 1900.


And future immigration can keep the process going.


Again, the word "can" here covers a multitude of possibilities. But present immigration is most certainly not contributing to "self-sufficiency, relative hard work, and intelligence" in the population in general.
1.2.2008 4:17pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Somebody like Russ Douhat who writes at The Atlantic Monthly. Not saying I agree with him, but he's an interesting voice which Times readers never hear.
Right. Or Andrew Sullivan from the Atlantic. Not saying he's the best choice, but he'd provide a somewhat different viewpoint than Brooks.

And yes, a libertarian choice would be good. I suspect those who criticized Tierney's writing above are actually expressing their ideological hatred of libertarianism, but if not Tierney, there are plenty of others.
1.2.2008 4:40pm
Michael B (mail):
Steyn. Indeed. But when's the last time the NYT had a Baptist on its staff, one lacking gothic liberal manners and forms of contrition? But it would have been the worthiest of choices. Kristol is fine though.
1.2.2008 4:43pm
Thales (mail) (www):
"I hardly consider those who believe in limiting legal immigration to "only" 1 million per year and ending illegal
entry to be "anti-immigration.""

I do, given the vast disparity between that 1 million figure and the real demand for the labor and skills of immigrants, as measured by the actual productive activity in our economy, both legal and otherwise (here I'm counting only economic activity of illegal immigrants, not anything physically harmful to others). If you think our country can and will educate skilled workers and get unskilled domestic workers to accept the jobs and wages to fill the labor gap that would be created by your proposal, I am impressed by your imagination but unimpressed by your policy-making skills.
1.2.2008 5:35pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Beings from outer space are not necessarily subhuman, they are just as likely to be "superhuman" or just ahuman. But they sure are strange.
1.2.2008 8:08pm
Mr. Liberal:

Beings from outer space are not necessarily subhuman, they are just as likely to be "superhuman" or just ahuman. But they sure are strange.


I have to admit it. DavidBernstein apparently does have a sense of humor.
1.2.2008 9:22pm
Hoosier:
Professor B: Shortly after Brooks started writing his column, I asked him how he was chosen. He said that Gail Collins told him he would offend NYT readers the least of any conservative they could name. Thus there's some evidence evidence to back up your hunch. ("I can't help but think that the Times' editors' thought process is something like this: if I absolutely had to talk to a conservative Republican at a cocktail party, who would it be?")

Now KRISTOL? Totally different matter . . .

But Mark Steyn would have been more interesting.
1.3.2008 5:12pm