A lot of people have been pointing out the stupidity of the New York Times’ recent decision to pick up the tab for Bill Kristol’s career life support. But it’s a decision too patently ridiculous for me to not throw in my two cents.
On the one hand, I can sort of understand the rationale behind such a hire. The Times op-ed page is frequently derided as too liberal – or even socialist – by the conservative media (using a strange sort of math that makes Tom Friedman a foreign policy liberal and assumes Maureen Dowd has any kind of political convictions besides a love of Beltway high school gossip). What the Times needs, then, is another David Brooks – a self-styled conservative “intellectual.” Kristol’s cultivated an image as such an intellectual. And there’s got to be somebody in the Times headquarters reading all of the negative reactions to their recent hiring and smugly deciding that if the paper is now pissing off both the left and the right, they must be doing something right.
I wouldn’t really call Brooks an intellectual, but at least he has some ability to form opinions independent of the Republican Party. A good op-ed columnist should be able to do that – after all, Times official policy is supposed to bar columnists from outright endorsements. As my favorite NYT columnist, Paul Krugman, said in a recent interview: “In principle, you don’t even know which party I favor.”
There’s no question which party Bill Kristol favors. The guy is a pure GOP talking point machine, through and through. He’s spent the last seven years as a mouthpiece for the Bush administration and when the GOP picks a nominee he’ll be that nominee’s unofficial press secretary throughout the rest of the election.
Despite the image of himself that Kristol has tried to cultivate, he’s no intellectual. I’m still waiting for evidence that he’s even sentient.