Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The failures of Krazy Kristol; or, why he should be fired from the NYT

By Michael J.W. Stickings

At The New Yorker, George Packer makes a strong case for firing Krazy Bill Kristol from the Op-Ed page of The New York Times:

It's time for the newspaper to move on. For Pinch Sulzberger and Andy Rosenthal to renew Kristol's one-year contract, in 2009, would be for the Times to reward failure -- and look where that got Wall Street and General Motors. It's not just that Kristol isn't another Safire (although an absence of verbal playfulness and wit is a consistent hallmark of the Kristol prose style). It's not just that his views are utterly predictable (if that were firing grounds, close to half the Times columnists would lose their jobs). It's not just that he was fundamentally wrong at least every other week throughout the year (misattributing a quote in his first column, counting Clinton out after Iowa, placing Obama at a Jeremiah Wright sermon that Obama didn't attend, predicting the imminent return of a McCain adviser named Mike Murphy who ended up staying off the campaign, all but predicting a McCain victory, sort of predicting that McCain would oppose the bailout, praising McCain's "suspension" of his campaign as a smart move, preferring fake populism to professional excellence and Joe the Plumber to Horace the Poet, urging Ayers-Wright attack tactics as the way for McCain to win, basically telling McCain to ignore all the advice Kristol had given him throughout the year, but above all, vouching again and again and again, privately and publicly, for Palin as an excellent Vice-Presidential choice). What the hell -- it was an unpredictable year.

The real grounds for firing Kristol are that he didn't take his column seriously. In his year on the Op-Ed page, not one memorable sentence, not one provocative thought, not one valuable piece of information appeared under his name. The prose was so limp ("Who, inquiring minds want to know, is going to spare us a first Obama term?") that you had the sense Kristol wrote his column during the commercial breaks of his gig on Fox News Sunday and gave it about the same amount of thought.

For what it's worth, I could not agree more. Most of my opposition to Kristol is political and philosophical, but, those differences aside, I have found his Times columns -- to the extent that I even bother to read them -- to be consistently poor. Simply put, he has been an embarrassment. If the Times really wants another conservative to pontificate alongside David Brooks, I'm sure there are far worthier choices out there. At least they can pick one who isn't a partisan hack.

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