It's hard to get angry at The New York Times hiring crack analyst William Kristol for their op-ed pages. Not hard because their hiring doesn't deserve the anger, but rather because after hyperventilating it's hard to do most anything.
Also, when you've used up all your outrage at Newsweek hiring Karl Rove as a commentator, it's hard to get worked up over something far less. Not "far less" as in better, just "far less" as in less horrifically awful.
The editorial page editor of the Times, Andy Rosenthal, reacted to all the teeth-gnashing over Kristol's hiring by saying that he doesn't understand "this weird fear of opposing views." Clearly, he doesn't understand. It's not the opposing views people are objecting to, it's the lack of common sense analytical skills.
There are plenty of opposing views that are thoughtful, observant and well-presented. I'm not crazy about George Will, Paul Gigot, William Safire or David Brooks as right-wing commentators, but I respect their thought process. I can even tolerate Tony Blankley or William F. Buckley as analysts who at least understand views not their own, as much as I may disagree with the gentlemen. But that's not the problem with William Kristol.
William Kristol has not only been completely wrong about everything he's written about the Iraq War, he was one of the leading proponents of it, working to convince the public that America should get involved in the war. A war that is arguably the most horrific foreign policy disaster in the 231-year history of the United States, a war that has brought disgrace to this nation in ways that may take generations to repair. And for over four years, William Kristol has relentlessly, proudly, vociferously pounded his support and defense of this disaster.
And this is the crack analyst the New York Times wants its readers to pay attention to for his ace opinions? Andy Rosenthal has his syntax wrong. People aren't upset at "this weird fear of opposing views" -- they're upset at "this fear of weird opposing views."
Only a few weeks after the Iraq War began, William Kristol was a guest on NPR's "Fresh Air" program and said as as dismissively and haughtily as only he can:
"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 want to establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There's been almost no evidence of that at all. Iraq's always been very secular."
Sunnis and Shias have been fighting each other for 800 years. Just pick up any history book on "Wars, religious," it's right there. If it wasn't in all the papers that's only because it began before the Gutenberg printing press was invented, so some hand journals may have missed it in the 13th century.
And this is the crack analyst the New York Times wants its readers to pay attention to for his ace opinions?
Sure, anyone can get their facts a little wrong once in a while. But this isn't "a little wrong." This is like saying, "There's a certain pop psychology that Jews and Nazis can't get along." This is missing one of the core, underlying themes of political and religious life because either you're too stupid or too disingenuous. And William Kristol is not stupid. So, the New York Times wants an utterly disingenuous commentator for its paper analyzing events? Not the sort of thing most people are looking for in solid news reporting.
But here's how editor Rosenthal defends the decision: "The idea that the New York Times is giving voice to a guy who is a serious, respected conservative intellectual -- and somehow that's a bad thing."
Serious? A guy who tries to pawn off the flim-flam that there's no 800-year evidence that Sunnis and Shias can't get along is not serious.
Respected? A guy who for four years has been defending the worst foreign-policy disaster of our lifetime is not respected. Except by the 11 percent who still think Dick Cheney is doing a bang-up job.
William Kristol has been wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong about the Iraq War every time he's had a chance to be wrong, from Day One and 3,900 American deaths, at a cost that's estimated to reach $2 trillion.
In the end, it's not so much a question why the New York Times asked William Kristol to give his opinion. It's a question why anyone would ask William Kristol to give his opinion.