Bill Kristol's column in the Monday New York Times is always something to look forward to after a long weekend, as he continues to fill the political humor op-ed slot at the paper once filled so ably by Russell Baker. And, oh, those embarrassing corrections! Today he serves up an unintentionally hysterical classic, using Barack Obama's recent remarks about people clinging to religion in hard times to link the candidate to -- are you ready for this? -- Karl Marx.
After Marx, why not Lennon? The John Lennon who once proclaimed, "I don't believe in religion" and "I don't believe in Jesus." But by the end of the column, I stopped laughing when Kristol, whose writings and advocacy have so damaged "average" Americans, called Obama a fraudulent voice of the people because he is truly "disdainful of small-town America.... He's usually good at disguising this. But in San Francisco the mask slipped. And it's not so easy to get elected by a citizenry you patronize."
He concluded: "And what are the grounds for his supercilious disdain? If he were a war hero, if he had a career of remarkable civic achievement or public service -- then he could perhaps be excused an unattractive but in a sense understandable hauteur. But what has Barack Obama accomplished that entitles him to look down on his fellow Americans?"
Now, let's take that paragraph, re-read it but substitute Bill Kristol for Barack Obama at the end. How does that hold up? Let's review Kristol as man-of-the-people, as "war hero" and his "remarkable" civic achievements.
-- Son of intellectuals, attended exclusive prep school in Manhattan, then Harvard.
-- Served as chief of staff to Vice President Dan Quayle.
-- Led the fight to scuttle health care reform under Clinton. Kristol claimed there was no health care crisis and wrote key memo urging Republicans to "kill," not try to amend, the Clinton plan. If the Clinton proposal passed, he warned, it would "revive ... the Democrats, as the generous protector of middle-class interests."
-- Was one of the most influential agitators for the attack on Iraq in 2003, which has taken the lives of thousands of "small town" soldiers and injured thousands more for life (as I explore in my new book on Iraq and the media). Made famous 2002 statement, "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."
-- Has backed every tax cut for the rich and other economic policies that have kept the middle-class sliding backwards for years.
-- Military service? Come on!
Greg Mitchell's new book is So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, the Pundits -- and the President -- Failed on Iraq. It has been hailed by Arianna, Bill Moyers, Glenn Greenwald and others and features a preface by Bruce Springsteen. He is editor of Editor & Publisher.