William Kristol has as usual missed the mark again with his recent op-ed in the Times (Both Sides Now – Op-Ed – NYTimes.com.) He starts off well with
I’m now a disestablishmentarian. I’ve come to believe that, to (loosely) paraphrase Jefferson, the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the wreckage of torpedoed establishments and the shards of overturned conventional wisdom. The good news is that 2008 has been a thoroughly refreshing year.
He then wanders aimlessly into the Republican talking points including
Meanwhile, the Republican Party … chose as its nominee a troublemaker who was George W. Bush’s main challenger in 2000 and his sharp critic for much of his administration. John McCain wasn’t on particularly good terms with either the G.O.P. establishment or the leaders of the conservative movement — yet he won.
and on the selection of Palin
The media establishment was horrified. Its members expressed their disapproval. Palin became more popular. They got even more frustrated.
This is the line of reasoning that the Republicans are using to push the McCain/Palin ticket. McCain has had to turn in his “maverick” credentials when he has done a 180 on all major policy issues on which he disagreed with Bush and the neoconservatives (tax policy, immigration, torture).
And what to say about Sarah Palin. The more we learn about her the more she looks like W with lipstick! Her ability to cover for her complete lack of independent knowledge about the complexity of the modern international world with cute one liners (“I won’t blink”) is eerily reminiscent of Bush. Why do you need to understand the underlying geopolitical strata, when you can intuit what is “right” (or be told by God) and threaten anyone who disagrees with the label of “un-patriotic” for domestic foes, and unilateral military action for international ones.
I agree with Mr. Kristol that we are potentially seeing “one of America’s periodic political and cultural awakenings.” But trying to cast McCain/Palin in that role is like, how can I say it …. , putting lipstick on a pig.