Monday, October 13, 2008

Strange wisdom from Bill Kristol

Just when you thot things couldn't get weirder: William Kristol writes a column for the ages today. His first line has some really different advice for John McCain:

It’s time for John McCain to fire his campaign.
Wouldn't that be fun. Kristol then goes on to do what oh so few of his conservative compatriots have been willing to do of late: he acknowledges reality.

[McCain's] campaign is totally overmatched by Obama’s. The Obama team is well organized, flush with resources, and the candidate and the campaign are in sync. The McCain campaign, once merely problematic, is now close to being out-and-out dysfunctional. Its combination of strategic incoherence and operational incompetence has become toxic. If the race continues over the next three weeks to be a conventional one, McCain is doomed.
Having done the brave - for a conservative - thing and disabused himself of some delusions, Kristol goes straight back to his old bad habits, notably dreaming aloud in bright, cheery nonsense, painting word pictures with neon psychedelic colors. Take, for example, this bit advice for McCain:

Keep just a minimal staff to help organize the press conferences McCain and Palin should have at every stop and the TV interviews they should do at every location. Do town halls, do the Sunday TV shows, do talk radio — and invite Obama and Biden to join them in some of these venues, on the ground that more joint appearances might restore civility and substance to the contest.
I would be a big fan of restoring civility and substance to this contest. That would be great. And I would love to have some of what Kristol is smoking if he thinks that McCain and Palin are capable of doing that. I would not, however, want whatever Kristol is smoking that makes him think that McCain and Palin are going to be convinced to do press conferences, because that must be dangerously mind-altering stuff. He thinks Sarah Palin is going to be doing regular press conferences? He must be WAY past crack.

For all his conservative credentials, Kristol apparently forgets that alleged key component of conservatism: personal responsibility. John McCain should fire his campaign? Who does he think hired these people in the first place? Sarah Palin should be doing press conferences whenever and wherever possible? If that were even a remotely good idea, wouldn't they have started doing that, oh, say, a month and a half ago? The people on the McCain campaign know something that is holding Sarah Palin back from giving press conferences. Maybe the fact that her interviews so far have become the stuff of political pop culture legend - and not in a good way for her - provides a clue.

I'll say this for Kristol: the man takes risks. Ain't no one else out there suggesting this kind of thing, at least not on Op-Ed pages of the large metropolitan newspapers. He's going to get a lot of flak for this. I think it's completely delusional, but it is bold. Delusional but bold: there are worse combinations for a NY Times columnist. At this point, the second line of his column applies as much to him as to McCain: "He has nothing to lose." At this point, he can claim that he gave McCain radical advice, and, if McCain doesn't take it, he has a smidgen bit of independence from his failure. Handing out radical, apparently substantive advice while effectively bailing from a sinking ship. In one column. That takes talent.

I can't think of much that William Kristol has written that I agree with, but damn can he be entertaining. I mostly agree with this, but you will be able to knock me over with a feather if McCain does any of this.

Actually, I take that back. With John McCain, the only certainty is uncertainty. He might very well do everything Kristol is suggesting tomorrow, and then won't Kristol look like a genius. Anything is possible. As Hunter S. Thompson said, when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.

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