As always, however, Kristol's column has some factual issues with it (or more just some common-sense issues). To begin with, for some reason he absolutely despises Maya Angeloum, but for an inane reason. Take this gem from his column: "I still remember watching Maya Angelou read 'On the Pulse of Morning' at Bill Clinton's inauguration in 1993 — and thinking that American culture really was in a state of irreversible decline, as she indulged in that multicultural cataloguing." It seems Kristol took offense when Angelou decided to list a variety of ethnicities and religions in her poem about America - you know, that great melting pot of diversity where people are different but all distinctly American? What does the Statue of Liberty say? "Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, / The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. / Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, / I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" Yet celebrating differences is an indication of a society whose culture is in "irreversible decline." And Kristol calls the left intolerant.
Then Kristol goes on to praise Abraham Lincoln, saying that his "actions exemplified the prudent and skillful pursuit of a principled end." Do not get me wrong; Lincoln was a great president and one of the main reasons that the Union remained a union at all, but to say that his Emancipation Proclamation and his fight to end slavery was based on principle - and not politics - is a bit misguided. First, his Proclamation freed slaves in the southern states during the Civil War, essentially doing nothing because he had no control over it. That would be like a president today saying that all political prisoners around the world are now free - a nice gesture, but there's no way to enforce it. Secondly, Lincoln was far from an equality seeker. In the Lincoln-Douglas debates he was quick to point out that he did not want to "set the niggers and white people to marry together" when Douglas hinted that Lincoln wanted an "amalgamation" of the races. Additionally, Lincoln stated that "I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about the social and political equality of the white and black races." To top it all off, Lincoln stated, "I am not in favor of Negro citizenship." So while Lincoln saw slavery as a horrible institution - anyone with a speck of morality did - he was not exactly fighting for equality between whites and blacks.
Then there's Kristol's backhanded compliments of Obama. Don't take Kristol's few positive words of Obama as genuine praise. Kristol thinks Obama may be a bit too proud, saying that Obama should have the "Good Book" opened up to Proverbs 16:18, which reads, "Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall." Then he goes on to criticize those who point out Obama's smoking habit, right after he pointed out Obama's smoking habit. Mentioning something by saying you should not mention it sets up the thinnest of smoke screens to take a critical shot at someone - you want to criticize someone, just do it; don't give me this passive aggressive crap.
Kristol is a symbol of the old Republican party - hawkish (while being misinformed) with too much of a focus on religion. He even says, "And having Warren there will, in fact, be a welcome reminder of the strides the evangelical movement and religious conservatives (broadly speaking) have made in recent decades." Many believe that religion is killing the Republican party and the party's true symbol before the religious right took over during Reagan's administration - Barry Goldwater - would agree: "When you say 'radical right' today, I think of these moneymaking ventures by fellows like Pat Robertson and others who are trying to take the Republican Party away from the Republican Party, and make a religious organization out of it. If that ever happens, kiss politics goodbye." If Republicans want to wrest the White House away from the "intolerant left" and nagging liberals, they need to change their outlook and what it means to be "conservative." Until then "Barack the Magic Negro" and Bill Kristol columns will have to do. Peace.
Photos - Bill Kristol on the "Daily Show" (Huffington Post), Honest Abe (Civics Online), Barry Goldwater (Official Site of the Presidential Medal of Freedom)