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THE BIRTH OF THE CULTURE WARS: This century-long conflict is born of the Western elites’ loss of cultural and moral authority.

Writing in 1973, Irving Kristol, a leading conservative commentator, drew attention to the moral depletion of Western culture:

‘For well over 150 years now, social critics have been warning us that bourgeois society was living off the accumulated moral capital of traditional religion and traditional moral philosophy, and that once this capital was depleted, bourgeois society would find its legitimacy ever-more questionable.’

Related:

More: Ancien Regime Change. “Do not worry too much about the statues which are now coming down. They mean surprisingly little. Worry more about the ones they are soon going to be putting up, and what they will represent.”

UPDATE (FROM GLENN): Or not. Seen on Facebook: “Relax, they’re just making room for all the Trump statues.”

WHEN THE LAUGH TRACK STARTS THEN THE FUN STARTS: Biden campaign ‘secretly building anti-Trump Republican group to help him take down the president.’ Funniest bit: They think that Bill Kristol is a major Republican figure.

And hey, that’s an Orbital reference, because I don’t just do Steely Dan.

BECAUSE OF COURSE HE DID: Never Trumper Bill Kristol Posts Ghoulish Fantasy of Pelosi Becoming President This Year, It Does Not Go Well.

At this point maybe we should retire “NeverTrump” and replace it with something like “Formerly Closeted Democrat Who Wishes to Be Thought of as a Moderate But No One Is Buying It.”

It’s a little wordy, isn’t it?

NEVER-TRUMP GRIFTERS HOLD ‘SUMMIT ON PRINCIPLED CONSERVATISM:’

A number of America’s leading Never-Trump luminaries, including Bill Kristol, Evan McMullin, Rick Wilson, Amanda Carpenter, Tom Nichols and Ramesh Ponnuru, held a conference in Washington D.C. on Saturday to an audience of about 200 supporters.

Timed to compete with the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC),  the “Summit on Principled Conservatism” was hosted by Principles First, in partnership with Stand Up Republic, both of which describe themselves as “grassroots” organizations.

Read the whole thing.

WHY DO NEVERTRUMPERS THINK THEY CAN RUN THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY?

Max Boot, fedora still tipped dramatically to one side, warned Democrats that Trump may exploit Sanders’s history of communist praise, making him an untenable candidate for the general election:

‘Sanders carries decades of ideological baggage, having praised Communist regimes and joined a socialist party that took Iran’s side during the hostage crisis. Sanders’s Democratic opponents haven’t exploited this record. Trump won’t have any such reticence.’

Bill Kristol, who displayed his conservative principles by donating to the campaign of blackface-wearing and late-term abortion-supporting Virginia governor Ralph Northam, lamented that people like him would ‘very much prefer a choice other than Trump or Sanders.’ Kristol also recently insisted that Democrats ‘can do better than socialism,’ a rather charitable assertion from someone who just ‘came out’ as a Democrat a couple of weeks ago.

Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin sarcastically tweeted that it’s ‘just brilliant’ for Democrats to nominate a socialist who just had a heart attack, while former GOP strategist Steve Schmidt declared a Bernie candidacy a ‘death sentence’ for the Dems. Alongside Schmidt, the potty-mouthed Rick Wilson and slovenly George Conway have launched the Lincoln Project, a group dedicated solely to defeating Trump, even if it elevates Democrats.

* * * * * * * *

It is wild to watch the individuals who pilloried the idea of Trump winning in 2016 now offer their unsolicited advice on how to defeat him. The arrogance required to be consistently wrong about the political developments of the past decade and then still insist they know better is really quite something.

Who could have seen this coming? Or as a legendary community advisor warned in 2010, “We don’t mind the Republicans joining us. They can come for the ride, but they gotta sit in back.”

BILL OF FOR SALE: Based On Tax Filings, Bill Kristol’s Been A Democrat For Years. “Bill Kristol, currently editor-at-large of The Bulwark, has been funded from the start of his rebellion by big left-of-center donors like Pierre Omidyar and the Hewlett Foundation.”

NEVERTRUMP 2020 DIED IN IOWA:

And how do we know this? Because they moved on to candidates like Joe Walsh, who were also not staunch defenders of conservative principle, but just another vessel for more book sales and CNN cable news hits. Walsh’s biggest backers on the right claim to stand on principle and values while ignoring Walsh’s own history of endorsing and promoting an actual white supremacist in Paul Nehlen. Trump is not an ideological opponent of the anti-Trump political class. He’s a mirror.

The NeverTrump movement has been corrupted as much as Trump himself. As his loudest critics on the right decry the culture of Trump that has infested the GOP, they also sit on Morning Joe segments and beg for Jeff Zucker’s table scraps — the two men in the entirety of media more responsible for Donald Trump as he exists today, tweeting from the Oval Office, than any CPAC invitation. Sure, people like Bill Kristol, Charlie Sykes, Tom Nichols or Rick Wilson will happily sit on these panels without the principled temerity to call out Joe Scarborough or Jeff Zucker for their own roles in paving Trump’s way to the White House with billions of dollars of free media, because trolling Trump into an early morning rage tweet becomes paramount to their own personal brands for profit. Sound familiar?

Choose the form of your destructor.

UPDATE (FROM GLENN): “The NeverTrump movement has been corrupted as much as Trump himself.” Except there’s no evidence of corruption on Trump’s part — despite a lot of digging — and there’s more with the NeverTrumpers, who have mostly sold out everything they claimed to stand for in the name of media exposure and tribal solidarity.

UPDATE (From Ed): as Charlie Martin asks at the PJ Mothership: Seriously, #NeverTrump, What Will You Give Up to Own Trump?

BILL FINALLY MAKES IT OFFICIAL: Bill Kristol says ‘we are all Democrats now’ (and people have thoughts).

HARSH BUT FAIR:

But if Kristol is having an identity crisis, perhaps these recent Insta-links will assist in narrowing down his ideological triangulation.

HUFFPO: Republican Group Hits Donald Trump With Scathing New Billboard Campaign. “A conservative group is targeting House Republicans with a digital billboard campaign that is heavily critical of President Donald Trump.”

“Conservative.”

The big names behind the group are Bill Kristol, Mona Charen, Linda Chavez, Sarah Longwell, and Andy Zwick. Or as the group’s Wikipedia page notes, “Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin calls the ads ‘devastating’ to Trump’s credibility.”

Someone’s credibility is devastated, that’s for sure.

SO I’M READING Kurt Schlichter’s Collapse, and liking it very much. It’s a real page-turner. I liked the cameo appearance by Bill Kristol and his boat, too.

FACE, MEET PALM: Bill Kristol: Trump Is a Bigger Threat to Free Markets Than Warren.

But other than taxing innovators and entrepreneurs out of existence, how do you enjoy your capitalism, Mrs. Warren?

WORST. RACIST. PRESIDENT. EVER: Record 28,282,000 Hispanics Employed.

And worst crypto-fascist president ever:

 

YOU WENT FULL BILL KRISTOL. NEVER GO FULL BILL KRISTOL: Is Jennifer Rubin Trying to Out “Bill Kristol” Bill Kristol? 

Earlier: Double Whammy: CBS Journo Jan Crawford Shuts Down Hillary Clinton, Jen Rubin Over Trump Judicial Nominee Criticism.

MATT TAIBBI’S DIRE DILEMMA: Is Trump Worse Than the Deep State?

In spite of this profound disparagement, Taibbi apparently believes that the Deep State is worse than being ruled by a Mad King that you would not leave your children with. It’s quite a predicament.

On behalf of uncounted thousands of readers who dumped Rolling Stone when Jann Wenner’s periodical became more interested in promoting Blue State hegemony than covering Blue Oyster Cult, we can only say that Taibbi is half-right, which is 50% more correct than most leftists.

And at the risk of repeating PJM’s Mark Ellis, Bill Kristol as well.

BILL KRISTOL HAS HIS SEVEN DAYS IN MAY MOMENT:

In October of 2018, as NewsBusters spotted, “On MSNBC, Rosie O’Donnell Suggests a Military Coup Against Trump.” The previous August, former comedienne turned far left activist Chelsea Handler called for “a military coup to overthrow Trump,” the New York Post reported. Glenn’s 2016 paper on military coups in the United States just keeps getting more timely!

QUESTION ASKED: Can we find Bill Kristol a new job?

I BLAME RUSSIAN HACKERS: GOP Challenger Joe Walsh Explains Bad Tweets: ‘I Don’t Know My Twitter Feed.’

Can Bill Kristol pick ’em, or what?

THE MOOCH, BILL KRISTOL AND THE NEVERTRUMP QUEST FOR RELEVANCE: From Roger Kimball at the American edition of the London Spectator. “Consider this headline: ‘Anthony Scaramucci talks to Bill Kristol about trying to force Trump off the GOP ticket in 2020.’ Can you guess the source? If you said ‘The Onion,’ you would have made a perfectly rational judgment… But no. A joke it may be — an absurdity, too — but the source of that story is not The Onion but CNBC, not exactly an unimpeachable source, I know, but at least one with some pretensions to reporting as distinct from satire.”

As Tom Wolfe wrote thirty years ago,“We live in an age in which it is no longer possible to be funny. There is nothing you can imagine, no matter how ludicrous, that will not promptly be enacted before your very eyes, probably by someone well known.”

NORMAN PODHORETZ ON BILL KRISTOL’S DRIFT TO THE LEFT:

CRB: The Never Trumpers agree with you that Trump is an “unworthy vessel” but see nothing whatsoever to redeem his vices.

NP: Mainly they think he’s unfit to be president for all the obvious reasons—that he disgraces the office. I mean, I would say Bill Clinton disgraced the office. I was in England at Cambridge University when Harry Truman was president, and there were Americans there who were ashamed of the fact that somebody like Harry Truman was president.

CRB: A haberdasher.

NP: Right, and no college degree. And, of course, Andrew Jackson encountered some of that animosity. There’s snobbery in it and there’s genuine, you might say, aesthetic revulsion. It’s more than disagreements about policy, because the fact of the matter is they have few grounds for disagreement about policy. I mean, I’ve known Bill Kristol all his life, and I like him. But I must say I’m shocked by his saying that if it comes to the deep state versus Trump, he’ll take the deep state. You know, I was raised to believe that the last thing in the world you defend is your own, and I am proud to have overcome that education. I think the first thing in the world you defend is your own, especially when it’s under siege both from without and within. So the conservative elite has allowed its worst features—its sense of superiority—to overcome its intellectual powers, let’s put it that way. I don’t know how else to explain this.

CRB: Like Donald Trump, you don’t mind being politically incorrect, or what some would call populist.

NP: I often quote and I have always believed in Bill Buckley’s notorious declaration that he would rather be governed by the first 2,000 names in the Boston telephone book than by the faculty of Harvard University. That’s what I call intelligent populism. And Trump is Exhibit A of the truth of that proposition.

Plus some thoughts on who the left’s nominee in 2020 could be. Read the whole thing.

IT’S BEEN A BAD DAY FOR BILL KRISTOL:

Related:

Plus:

FAILED MAGAZINE EDITOR BILL KRISTOL TRIED TO STIR UP SOME ATTENTION BY CALLING KURT SCHLICHTER A RACIST. It did not go well.

But you can decide for yourself. Check out Kurt’s books, People’s Republic, Indian Country, and Wildfire. Form your own opinion, without further guidance from the Lido Deck. (Bumped).

WHEN DOES THE BULWARK START CONSERVING CONSERVATISM? Bulwark’s token* lib deletes tweet mocking Donald and Melania Trump at Alabama memorial.

Earlier: The Bulwark, Bill Kristol’s Successor To The Weekly Standard, Called Out For Sending Pro-Choice Lib To ‘Own The Cons’ At CPAC.

* No, there is another.

UPDATE (FROM GLENN): The “Martial/Marital” typo only makes it better.

ROGER KIMBALL: JERRY NADLER’S FRANTIC QUEST TO ‘GET TRUMP.’

No one knows when Robert Mueller will deliver his report to Attorney General William Barr, and no one knows what portions, if any, General Barr will make public. But the hissing sound you have heard over the last several weeks is the air going out of Mueller’s Get Trump probe as story after story has been crafted to manage expectations down regarding ‘Individual 1,’ aka Donald J. Trump. Mueller bagged Paul Manafort for tax related issues a decade or more ago, and folks like Roger Stone and Michael Flynn for making the mistake of testifying before Congress (Stone) or talking to the FBI (Flynn).

But no one not named Bill Kristol now thinks that Mueller’s expensive, long-running entertainment will issue in any actionable charges against the President.

Hence the ‘insurance policy’ being framed by Congressman Nadler. The headline of a column in Politico yesterday cut to the chase: ‘House Democrats open sweeping corruption probe into Trump’s world.’ They’ve sent letters to 81 people associated with Donald Trump demanding ‘documents.’ Which documents? All the ones that show the President in a bad light or that might be used to frame him for misconduct or ‘high crimes and misdemeanors.’

Like what? Well, they aren’t quite sure, but it is not stopping them from ‘demanding documents from the White House and Trump’s namesake company, charity, transition team, inauguration and 2016 campaign, as well as several longtime associates and the president’s two adult sons.’ Hoover it all up, boys! There has to be something, somewhere in Trump’s past we can nail him for.

Flashback: Liberals push to impeach Bush: “‘The timing is all wrong,’ said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat. ‘If this were the first two years of his administration I would advocate impeachment. A lot of people at home say impeachment, and I’m sure he committed a lot of impeachable offenses, but think about it practically.’ Mr. Nadler said impeachment hearings would be pointless and would only distract the country from the presidential election next year.”

Alvy Singer could not be reached for comment.

AND, MOSTLY, EMBARRASSED THEMSELVES. BUT WITH EVAN MCMULLIN AND BILL KRISTOL AS STANDARD BEARERS, IT WAS INEVITABLE: Book: Never Trumpers have ‘failed.’

WHAT WAS THE BULWARK THINKING?

I don’t have any beef with a liberal writer like Jong-Fast attending CPAC, and slagging it on twitter.  Some of the other snark on her timeline was even pretty funny. What I don’t understand is why on earth The Bulwark would send her as their representative.

One of the most difficult things for me discussing politics today is convincing Trump supporters that disagreeing with Trump’s behavior, tactics, and yes, sometimes policy (ahem, trade) doesn’t mean we have become leftists.   If the goal of The Bulwark is to ‘conserve conservatism’, they desperately need to demonstrate to a Trump Derangement Syndrome weary audience that they are still actually conservative.

Read the whole thing. Bill Kristol isn’t exactly the best salesman for “conservatism conserved” (thread):

THE BULWARK, BILL KRISTOL’S SUCCESSOR TO THE WEEKLY STANDARD, CALLED OUT FOR SENDING PRO-CHOICE LIB TO ‘OWN THE CONS’ AT CPAC. As Twitchy notes, “If you are part of a conservative website that trashes and condescends to conservatives who have a problem with you mocking their movement, YOU’RE the problem. Seriously. We’d expect to see this nonsense on Buzzfeed, or even Mediaite, but on The Bulwark, where they’re supposedly conserving conservatism? Wow:”

Contrast the above with the Bulwark’s slogan:

As Stephen Miller responds to Jong-Fast, “I don’t have a problem with your opinion. Pretty sure you’re aware of that. I just want to know what’s being conserved by the conservatism conserved official dispatch going after pro-life panels. Sure is a lot of dancing around this question and not much answering of it.”

Related: The Bulwark’s token lib deleted a tweet mocking a CPAC panelist who is battling cancer.

More: Why is the Bulwark bullying Victor Davis Hanson?

UPDATE (FROM GLENN): “Conservatism conserved?” They haven’t even conserved women’s sports without penises. And, more tellingly, they haven’t even tried.

JOHN PODHORETZ: THE ‘MURDER’ OF THE WEEKLY STANDARD WASN’T ABOUT TRUMP.

Narrator voice: There is some evidence that being perpetually never-Trump may have played a factor. QED:

HMMM: Don’t blame Trump for the demise of the Weekly Standard. 

[I]n the public mind, the name Weekly Standard is associated with one thing that’s unpopular with almost everyone (the Iraq War), and another that’s unpopular with its formerly intended audience of conservatives (opposition to Trump). The person most identified with the brand is Kristol, by far. He stepped down as editor at the end of 2016, but his public persona still defines the magazine: his bitter, flippant, or sarcastic tweets about Trump and Trump supporters are the Weekly Standard’s brand in the public’s eye. Few people look at the masthead of a magazine closely enough to realize when a prominent editor such as Kristol has been replaced by a less prominent once such as Steve Hayes — and because Kristol remains on the masthead as editor-at-large, ordinary readers have even more cause for confusion. (‘Editor-at-large’ sounds a lot like ‘editor’ to most people, but in fact usually means ‘ex-editor.’)

Fairly or not, Bill Kristol is the brand.

And when that once-conservative brand is tweeting things such as this

…That brand is severely tarnished. But it does explain why the Weekly Standard tried to remake itself as TNR Lite in its (apparently) last days.

SHOT:

Chaser:

IT’S MORE OF A CRUISE-SHIP NAVY: Bill Kristol building ‘war machine’ to challenge Trump in 2020 primary.

NON-STARTER: Bill Kristol Considering Run For President In 2020.

FURTHEST THING FROM MY MIND, ACTUALLY: Don’t Make Bill Kristol Run For President.

ANALYSIS: TRUE. Scott Pruitt Is Trump’s Biggest Asset. That’s Why The Left Wants Him Gone.

Mollie Hemingway:

There are poor ways, average ways, and shrewd ways to tackle the constitutional problems that arise from the administrative state. Many Republicans either don’t realize the problems of an unelected bureaucracy’s power, or fail to combat those problems effectively. Pruitt is in the final category, demonstrating competency and a devotion to rule of law. And he has the courage that so many of his GOP peers lack, not being intimidated by the normal media frenzy that intimidates other Republican appointees.

Recently, a coordinated attempt to oust him has taken shape, as this liberal TV producer notes:

Just think of them as Democratic operatives with bylines and… you know the rest.

The most charming of which might have been Bill Kristol, about whom Hemingway notes, “this week tweeted his desire for Michelle Obama to run and defeat Donald Trump, said Pruitt was a parody of sycophancy for supporting a conservative deregulatory agenda.”

SALENA ZITO: THE MIDDLE OF SOMEWHERE.

Earlier this year, Bill Kristol, editor at large at the Weekly Standard, tweeted ahead of the Super Bowl that it was too bad two Acela Corridor teams, the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles, had to play their matchup “in the middle of nowhere.”

It was a reference to the host city of Minneapolis’ location in the Midwest, far from the “civilized worlds” of Boston and Philadelphia – the assumption being that unless you are on the East Coast, your town’s sophistication and glamour could not live up to the modern amenities of a cosmopolitan city.

In my estimation, there is no patch of geography in this country that is the “middle of nowhere.” This is America; everywhere is the middle of somewhere.

Read the whole thing.

PAST PERFORMANCE IS NO GUARANTEE OF FUTURE RESULTS: 2016: Trump hires Rex Tillerson – obvious proof of Russian collusion. 2018: Trump fires Rex Tillerson – obvious proof of Russian collusion.

Just ask Nancy Pelosi, Bill Kristol, Kurt Eicenwald, and other prominent members of “the resistance.” As “Streiff” of Red State writes, “Basically Never Trump World has picked up on the same theme. None of them bother to try to explain why Trump nominated Mike Pompeo, who is about as hawkish on Russia as it is possible to be without going full-metal Buck Turgidson. But consistency and honesty is never really a consideration in these critiques. The idea is to push the most damaging possible interpretation of the event and move on to the next.”

ANALYSIS: TRUE. “Worst case, Trump paid Stormy Daniels. But he didn’t kill her. That distinguishes him from the Liberal Lion of the Senate. If you want a scandal, and a cover-up that succeeded to a remarkable degree, look no further than Chappaquiddick. The Democratic Party conspired to cover up Ted Kennedy’s crime–manslaughter, in a particularly vile form–to preserve his political viability, at the cost of an innocent young woman’s life.”

Oh sure, but “‘If she had lived, Mary Jo Kopechne would be 62 years old. Through his tireless work as a legislator, Edward Kennedy would have brought comfort to her in her old age,’ wrote [Charles Pierce in a January 5, 2003 Boston Globe Magazine profile of Kennedy]. The quote was recognized as the worst of the year at the MRC’s DisHonors Awards in 2004.”

Related: It’s come to this: Often Wrong Bill Kristol Says Obama A Better American Than Donald Trump Jr.

VIDEO: John Podhoretz on Movies, TV, and American Pop Culture.

KURT SCHLICHTER: Oprah Will Run In 2020 Because All The Other Democratic Candidates Are Even Worse. “If I was a Democrat, like everyone at NBC and noted Cruise Director Bill Kristol, I’d want Oprah Winfrey to run for president too. She’s got all the qualifications to be a Dem candidate – she’s vacuous, she embraces all the required liberal taboos, and she hates the right people – that is, people like you. And, best of all, Oprah isn’t one of the horde of weirdos, losers, and mutations already threatening to run.”

SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP: Cameron’s ‘bromance’ with Obama a myth, claims ex-adviser Steve Hilton. “Ex-PM thought Obama was narcissistic, says Steve Hilton while lambasting Fire and Fury book’s claims about Trump.”

Do tell:

Steve Hilton, one of Cameron’s closest advisers before the pair fell out over immigration and Brexit last year, made the comments during the latest instalment of his show, The Next Revolution, on Fox News.

Discussing Michael Wolff’s new book, Fire and Fury, Hilton said any claims by elitists and the establishment that Donald Trump was mentally unfit for the presidency came second to Trump’s promotion of a pro-worker, populist agenda on immigration, infrastructure, trade and the fight against China.

He went on to emphasise the shortcomings of Trump’s predecessors, adding: “My old boss, former British prime minister David Cameron, thought Obama was one of the most narcissistic, self-absorbed people he’d ever dealt with.

“Obama never listened to anyone, always thought he was smarter than every expert in the room, and treated every meeting as an opportunity to lecture everyone else. This led to real-world disasters, like Syria and the rise of Isis.”

But the real world did not matter to the elites, Hilton said. “For them, it’s all about style and tone, not substance and results. Donald Trump offends the elites aesthetically, like a piece of art that’s not to their taste.

When you allow taste to trump policy — and I’m addressing Bill Kristol directly here — you’ve elevated mere snobbery to a governing philosophy.

And you should expect the deplorables to respond accordingly.

IT’S COME TO THIS: Back in February Bill Kristol, founder of the Weekly Standard tweeted, “Obviously strongly prefer normal democratic and constitutional politics. But if it comes to it, prefer the deep state to the Trump state.” The once-stalwart conservative spent the rest of the year harrumphing Trump’s policies, and predicting in August, “Tax reform won’t even get a vote in Congress this year. I’d be surprised if it made it through committee in either house.” During a late October tweetstorm spotted by Bryon York of the Washington Examiner, Kristol labeled “those who fail to denounce Trump ‘collaborators’ and ‘fellow travelers.’”

Which brings us to the latest issue of Kristol’s magazine, which gushes with praise over Katharine Graham, the publisher of the Washington Post from August of 1963, when she inherited the paper after her husband committed suicide, until her son Donald took over in 1979. During this tumultuous period in America’s history, Graham’s paper published (along with the New York Times) the anti-Vietnam War “Pentagon Papers,” and then led the reporting on Watergate. The latter was condensed into the (much fictionalized but brilliant) motion picture All the President’s Men. The former is the subject of Steven Spielberg’s latest movie The Post. As Armond White of NRO notes in his critical review, “Spielberg directs it as an addendum to All the President’s Men (1976), the most narcissistic of all newspaper films.”

Curiously though, the Standard’s article on the movie is headlined, “In ‘The Post’ Katharine Graham Finally Gets Her Due,” and is written by “Amy Henderson…Historian Emerita of the National Portrait Gallery, [who] writes frequently on media and culture.” Henderson gushes that:

[Liz Hylton, Graham’s long-time executive assistant (played in the movie by Jennifer Dundas)] also introduced me to Ben Bradlee. Then in his late ’80s, he still radiated abundant charm. In the movie The Post, Tom Hanks plays Bradlee and is terrific, but I couldn’t shake the memory of Ben Bradlee’s glow-in-the-dark dazzle.

Meryl Streep nails her character—snagging wonderfully how Katharine Graham looked, sounded, moved, and gestured. The one dissonant chord I felt was how her character is portrayed in 1971 when the Post first became entangled with the Pentagon Papers crisis. Graham by then had been publisher for eight years, and I think she had grown beyond the hesitant and deferential person depicted early in the movie. She hired Bradlee in 1965, and the paper had steadily moved toward being a national paper competitive with the New York Times. By 1971, Graham was certainly not the woman she had described in her memoir as “not capable of governing, leading, or managing anything but our homes and children.”

The movie telescopes Katharine Graham’s transformation quickly during the Pentagon Papers crisis, depicting her telling Bradlee at a critical point, “Yes, let’s go, let’s publish.” This scene shows that she has gathered the strength and leadership that will be crucial during the coming Watergate crisis, where it would be her decision to allow Woodward and Bernstein to proceed with the investigation that brought down a president.

In her centennial year, The Post is finally giving Katharine Graham the recognition she deserves. Three cheers!

Fascinating to read a once-conservative Website describe the media’s destruction of a Republican president as an apparently unalloyed good thing. (“Three cheers!”) For a much-less hagiographic portrait of Graham (whom we now know, in addition to the JFK-worshipping Bradlee, also employed his Ouija board toting wife Sally Quinn), Mark Steyn’s 2001 obit has you covered:

One writer stood head and shoulders above the crowd, which admittedly isn’t terribly difficult when everybody else is prostrate. The anonymous editorialist at The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review evidently returned from lunch drunk and momentarily forgot himself. Possibly while working as a busboy in Washington in the early Sixties he’d been the victim of some casual slight by Mrs Graham. At any rate, summing up her life he started conventionally enough but then wandered deplorably off-message:

Born in New York City, the daughter of multimillionaire Eugene Meyer, she grew up privileged. In keeping with her father’s fortune, she graduated from Vassar College, where she was involved with the leftist trends of the day …

She married Felix Frankfurter’s brilliant law clerk, Philip Graham, who took over running The Post, which her father purchased at a bankruptcy sale. Graham built the paper but became estranged from Kay. She had him committed to a mental hospital, and he was clearly intending divorce when she signed him out and took him for a weekend outing during which he was found shot. His death was ruled a suicide. Within 48 hours, she declared herself the publisher.

That’s the stuff! As the Tribune-Review’s chap has it, Mrs G got her philandering spouse banged up in the nuthouse and then arranged a weekend pass with a one-way ticket. “His death was ruled a suicide.” Lovely touch that. Is it really possible Katharine Graham offed her hubby? Who cares? To those who think the worst problem with the American press is its awful stultifying homogeneity, the Tribune-Review’s deranged perverseness is to be cherished. Give that man a Pulitzer!

But, of course, they never do. Instead, with feeble predictability, they gave the Pulitzer to Mrs Graham’s own carefully veiled memoir, Personal History. Her formula for her publications was succinctly expressed: “Mass With Class” – “perhaps the best three-word definition for what a good news magazine should be,” wrote Mark Whitaker in Newsweek*. But what “Mass With Class” boils down to in practice is the genteel middlebrow conformity that makes so much of the mainstream US media such a world-class yawnfest. “Mass With Class” means you don’t ask Hillary Clinton about her husband’s perjury and trashing of his female, ahem, acquaintances but only whether she finds it difficult coping with the accusations and if she thinks this is because conservatives have a difficult time dealing with her as a strong intelligent woman in her own right.

It retrospect, it was the first word in Graham’s “Mass With Class” strategy that made her publications viable far more than Graham’s desire for a parlor-room tone. There simply weren’t a whole lot of alternatives for news about DC during Graham’s heyday, as I wrote a decade ago in “Atlas Mugged,” a history of “How a Gang of Scrappy Individual Bloggers Broke the Stranglehold of the Mainstream Media:”

By the early 1970s, mass media had reached its zenith (if you’ll pardon the pun). Most Americans were getting their news from one of three TV networks’ half-hour nightly broadcasts. With the exception of New York, most big cities had only one or two primary newspapers. And no matter what a modern newspaper’s lineage, by and large its articles, except for local issues, came from global wire services like the Associated Press or Reuters; it took its editorial lead from the New York Times; and it claimed to be impartial (while usually failing miserably).

Up until the Reagan years, [Shannon Love of the libertarian-leaning Chicago Boyz econoblog] says, “definitely fewer than one hundred people, and maybe as few as twenty people, actually decided what constituted national news in the United States.” These individuals were principally concentrated within a few square blocks of midtown Manhattan, the middle of which was home to the offices of the New York Times. The aptly nicknamed “Gray Lady” largely shaped the editorial agendas not just of newspapers but of television, as well. As veteran TV news correspondent Bernard Goldberg wrote in his 2003 book Arrogance, “If the New York Times went on strike tomorrow morning, they’d have to cancel the CBS, NBC, and ABC evening newscasts tomorrow night.”

Love calls this “the Parliament of Clocks”: creating the illusion of truth or accuracy by force of consensus. “Really, the only way that consumers can tell that they’re getting accurate information is to check another media source,” Love says. “And unfortunately, that creates an incentive for the media sources to all agree on the same story.”

Curiously, old media hates the Internet’s diversity of news sources, and in the post-9/11 era, their rapidly growing popularity on both sides of the aisle ultimately led to the Graham family famously offloading Newsweek in 2010 for a dollar to elderly stereo mogul Sidney Harman (it’s since been sold), and then the Post itself to Jeff Bezos in 2013 for $250 million. “A huge wad to be sure,” John Podhoretz wrote in the New York Post at the time, “but 1/20th of what the paper’s selling price might have been 15 years ago when no one thought it would ever be for sale — [it] is a reminder of the biblical adage: How art the mighty fallen.It certainly was mighty. And it deserved its fall. The Washington Post was once both a great and hateful newspaper.”

It’s no wonder that Spielberg and the MSM are nostalgic for an earlier era, when the MSM’s bottleneck on information led to the toppling of a Republican president**, and have the feverish desire to put the band back together again and do it again. The big surprise is that Kristol’s Weekly Standard seems to be yearning to see such an outcome as well.

* “Mass with Class” is definitely not the operating approach of Newsweek’s current incarnation.

** As veteran journalist Joseph Campbell notes at his Media Myth Alert blog, it wasn’t nearly that straightforward, but self-serving journalistic fables die particularly hard.

BILL KRISTOL AND EVAN MCMULLIN, doing their best to keep the Trump coalition united. Sheesh.

ROGER KIMBALL: I’VE GIVEN UP ON TRUMPISM, BECAUSE THERE’S NO SUCH THING:

Query: why does Max say that the wisdom of America’s voters was “dubious”? For the same reason that Bill Kristol, to take another prominent NeverTrumper, is organizing a Committee Not To Renominate the President. Bill wants to liberate “conservatism from Trumpism.”

But what is the “Trumpism” from which he wishes to liberate us conservatives? Max Boot, Bret Stephens, and other anti-Trump pundits have told us repeatedly that Donald Trump is a “fascist.” What can that mean? They have read their George Orwell. They know as well as anyone that “fascist” in the context of modern American society is simply a term of abuse, a negative epithet impatient people apply to things and people they do not like. In this respect, “fascist” is a lot like “racist” when deployed on college campuses these days.

Donald Trump’s real tort, I believe, was to have somehow gotten himself elected despite the objections and without the permission of people like Max Boot. . . .

While you are waiting for evidence of these claims, Max wants you to know that he thinks “Trump has been utterly incompetent. Even if he wants to achieve more of his agenda, he doesn’t know how to do it.” He is, you see, “ignorant, petulant, unethical, avaricious, conspiratorial, nasty, shameless, bullying, egomaniacal.”

Quite a litany. But what this really means, I think, is that while Donald Trump’s election was supposed to be impossible, it is still utterly unacceptable. The fantasy of “Trumpism” is an expression of that state of affairs. Even before Trump was elected, some academic historians, fired by nostalgia for the radicals of the 1960s and their protests against the Vietnam War, created a group called “Historians Against Trump” to protest the “dangerous ideology of Trumpism.” “The lessons of history,” they intoned, “compel us to speak out against a movement rooted in fear and authoritarianism.”

Where is the fear? Where the authoritarianism?

I believe that one of the great embarrassments confronting the persistent anti- or NeverTrumpers has been, pace Max Boot, the utter failure of their fantasies about Donald Trump to materialize. He was supposed to be a horrible, xenophobic, racist, militaristic cad, but how has he actually governed?

I have several times, in this space and elsewhere, provided periodic reality checks comparing the hysteria of the anti- or NeverTrumpers to Trump’s actual accomplishments. The list of those accomplishments grows longer and more impressive as the months go by.

Read the whole thing.

WEIRD HOW BILL KRISTOL STILL SEEMS SO CHAFED: Despite the chaos, Trump has managed to push the most conservative agenda in a generation. “This hitherto ideologically unmoored man has set in motion an administration arguably more conservative than Ronald Reagan’s. While the Congress controlled by his adopted party remains gridlocked, Trump is rolling back regulations and a number of the Obama administration’s most controversial achievements, including the internal structure of Obamacare and the Clean Power Plan. His foreign policy resets look increasingly sure-footed. His judicial nominees are uniformly conservative. It is inconceivable that any of the other leading Republican candidates from the 2016 cycle would have governed as boldly as Trump has.”

THAT, AND STATUS ANXIETY:

The thing is, Trump was elected by people who think our public life was already hopelessly degraded. It’s easy to see why that’s hard for Kristol to accept. More on status anxiety here.

Related: Put Up or Shut Up: Bill Kristol in 2018.

UPDATE: From the comments: “Just as Scott Adams predicted, he’s made it all the way to ‘I like his policies but I hate him’ status.”

DAVID GELERNTER ON THE FAILURE OF THE “CONSERVATIVE RESISTANCE:”

Conservative thinkers should recall that they helped create President Trump. They never blasted President Obama as he deserved. Mr. Obama’s policies punished the economy and made the country and its international standing worse year by year; his patronizing arrogance drove people crazy. He was the perfect embodiment of a one-term president. The tea-party outbreak of 2009-10 made it clear where he was headed. History will record that the press saved him. Naturally the mainstream press loved him, but too many conservative commentators never felt equal to taking him on. They had every reason to point out repeatedly that Mr. Obama was the worst president since Jimmy Carter, surrounded by a left-wing cabinet and advisers, hostile to Israel, crazed regarding Iran, and even less competent to deal with the issues than Mr. Carter was—which is saying plenty.

But they didn’t say plenty. They didn’t say much at all. The rank and file noticed and got mad. Even their supposed champions didn’t grasp what life under Mr. Obama was like—a man who was wrecking the economy while preaching little sermons, whose subtext was always how smart he was, how dumb they were, and how America was full of racist clods, dangerous cops and infantile nuts who would go crazy if they even heard the words “Islamic terrorism.” So the rank and file was deeply angry and elected Mr. Trump.

Couldn’t have said it better myself. They’d rather see the country collapse than risk being called a racist by Rachel Maddow. “Country over party” indeed. But Trump has brought along his own people, who are doing a lot better at engaging the left than the Bill Kristol/David Frum beltway types. As I wrote:

Yet the tea party movement was smeared as racist, denounced as fascist, harassed with impunity by the IRS and generally treated with contempt by the political establishment — and by pundits like Brooks, who declared “I’m not a fan of this movement.” After handing the GOP big legislative victories in 2010 and 2014, it was largely betrayed by the Republicans in Congress, who broke their promises to shrink government and block Obama’s initiatives.

So now we have Trump instead, who tells people to punch counterprotesters instead of picking up their trash.

When politeness and orderliness are met with contempt and betrayal, do not be surprised if the response is something less polite, and less orderly. Brooks closes his Trump column with Psalm 73, but a more appropriate verse is Hosea 8:7 “For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.” Trump’s ascendance is a symptom of a colossal failure among America’s political leaders, of which Brooks’ mean-spirited insularity is only a tiny part. God help us all.

But if you don’t like Trump, you really won’t like what comes after Trump, if the “resistance” succeeds. Luckily for Trump, the resistance seems mostly to be a bunch of self-important clowns and Antifa thugs.

BILL KRISTOL: “Obviously strongly prefer normal democratic and constitutional politics. But if it comes to it, prefer the deep state to the Trump state.”

I’m so old, I can remember when conservative leaders actually championed the notion of a small government that would leave average Americans alone, rather than a faceless army of weaponized unaccountable bureaucrats.

QUESTION ASKED: Did I miss Hillary’s vehement opposition to stop-and-frisk when she was Senator from NY and crime was dropping?

FRED BARNES WARNS TED CRUZ: This is interesting editorial on a topic that’s still hot. Bill Kristol has fiercely opposed Donald Trump’s nomination. Once again The Weekly Standard shows it’s a good place where good people disagree. Fred’s right: “Divided parties are vulnerable.” Last week I used humor to send the same serious message.

VIDEO: Bill Kristol and Jonah Goldberg on Donald Trump’s Candidacy, Liberalism, and Conservatism.

UNEXPECTEDLY: David French Says He’s Not Running for President.

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TRUE: We Get The Candidates Our Undignified Media Deserve.

Related: People who’ve told us that every Republican nominee since Dewey (and including Dewey!) was Hitler stunned that nobody cares when they say Trump is Hitler.

DID LYNDON LaROUCHE TURN HIM DOWN? THE GHOST OF HAROLD STASSEN? Bill Kristol Pushing David French (!) for President?

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SPENGLER: “Bill Kristol Isn’t a ‘Renegade Jew.’ Just a Sore Loser Throwing a Tantrum,” David P. Goldman writes:

It is a shame, really. As I wrote in this space last year (“Two Cheers for the Neo-Conservatives“), the movement that Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz incubated at Public Interest and Commentary during the 1970s provided the bulk of the ideas and the cadre for the Reagan Revolution, most importantly supply-side economics. They got heady with success. As I wrote then:

To a hammer, everything looks like a nail. To the neo-conservatives, every country looks like Poland, whose democracy movement in the 1980s was the thin end of the wedge that ruptured the Iron Curtain.

I come from the neocon movement. As chief economist for Jude Wanniski’s consulting firm Polyconomics, I was a card-carrying member of the Kristol Kindergarten back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. But a stint of consulting for the governments of Nicaragua and Russia persuaded me that American democracy couldn’t be exported, and I went my own way.

Read the whole thing.

SPENGLER LOOKS AT TED CRUZ’S FOREIGN POLICY:

What makes Cruz so hated is simply that he is smart enough to do without the Establishment. Cruz likes to compare himself to Reagan, whose autodicactic education in foreign policy gave him independence of judgment and confidence to pursue victory in the Cold War when the Establishment of his day thought it impossible. In many ways, Cruz will have a bigger problem if elected: for a decade prior to Reagan’s victory, the neo-conservatives (led by their “godfather” Irving Kristol) had trained cadre, ground out academic articles, and sparred over the big themes in the op-ed columns of the major media. Today the pickings are much slimmer. It’s not so much that the emperor has no clothes, but that the empire has no tailors.

Cruz, if elected, will have to do his own thinking, to an extent that no American president has had to do since Lincoln. He is intelligent enough and arrogant enough to do that, and he will owe no favors or patronage to the Establishment. He would be the cleverest man to occupy the oval office in a century and a half. He carries no baggage from the Bush administration, and will not invite the Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol or Fox News’ Charles Krauthammer to draft an inaugural address, as did Bush in 2004. He won the Iowa caucuses by building the strongest grass-roots network in the country (he claims to have a campaign chairman in every county of the United States), which makes him independent of the party apparatus, such as it is.

Endearing, boyish, photogenic and eloquent, Marco Rubio is the candidate that Central Casting sent the Establishment from the studio pool. Rubio, a middling student at university and a Florida machine politician throughout his career, says his lines well but does not have an original thought about foreign policy. That is why the Establishment likes him. Cruz knows that the Establishment is naked, and is willing to say so. That’s why they don’t like him. They aren’t supposed to. They look at him the way a rice bowl looks at a hammer.

Cruz is not (as the Establishment punditeska suggests) a “Jacksonian” isolationist in the sense of Walter Russell Meade’s use of the term; rather, he is a John Quincy Adams realist in Angelo Codevilla‘s reading. Cruz feels no ideological compulsion to assert America’s world mastery. He is concerned about American security and American power. The Establishment came into being in America’s brief moment at the head of a unipolar world, and is imprinted with that notion the way ducklings are imprinted with the image of their mothers. The world has changed.

It certainly has.

IN THE #NEWYORKVALUES STATE OF MIND. In his latest G-File, Jonah Goldberg writes:

6. Another irony is that Trump has always been a bridge-and-tunnel populist in New York. He began his career by taking on the snooty world of Manhattan real estate and he’s always been on the New York Post side of the yawning cultural divide in the Big Apple. Because of that, even though he is constantly prattling on about how exquisite his tastes are, he’s never seemed snooty himself. Cruz’s attack would have worked fine on Michael Bloomberg or Bill de Blasio, because they’re more what people think of when they hear “New York values.”

7. Trump’s point about William F. Buckley was a good one, but Bill would be the first to concede that “New York values” is a defensible shorthand for a certain kind of politics and a certain kind of culture.

8. That’s another irony about New York. It produces quite a lot of conservatives, some natural born, others naturalized. (Heh.) I was born there. So was my dad. My mom is a consummate New Yorker now, but she’s from Virginia. John Podhoretz, Bill Kristol (not to mention their parents), Rudy Giuliani, Andy McCarthy, General Jack Keane, et al were born in New York, too. As someone who grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where the right-wing Goldbergs were like Christians in ancient Rome, I can tell you I understand immediately what people mean when they refer to “New York values.”

9. In fact, I would argue that there’s a certain advantage (and many disadvantages) to growing up  — or living as — a conservative in a liberal place. It forces you to know yourself and your beliefs in a way that you might not if conservatism is just in the air you breathe. It’s analogous to my longstanding argument about being a conservative (or libertarian) on a liberal college campus. You develop muscles when you swim against the tide. The best learning is Socratic, and when you are constantly having your beliefs and assumptions questioned, you either cave in to the conventional wisdom or you force yourself to develop arguments for why the conventional wisdom is wrong. The smartest liberals at Harvard or Yale rarely meet a professor — or administrator — they actually disagree with on a fundamental philosophical level. Meanwhile, if you can make it out of those schools having been a politically engaged conservative, it means you’ve sharpened your thinking against a lot of whetting stones. Ted Cruz went to Harvard Law School, but that doesn’t mean he’s a hypocrite when he  criticizes the values of Harvard Law School — it means he probably knows what he’s talking about.

Ben Shapiro adds, “No, Cruz’s ‘New York Values’ Slam Won’t Hurt Him. Because He’s Right, And Even New Yorkers Know It:”

First off, Trump’s play here is incredibly manipulative and nasty. Obviously, Cruz didn’t mean to suggest that the behavior of New Yorkers on 9/11 was anything less than exemplary. Cruz insults DC values constantly, but nobody suggests that he’s insulting the behavior of people from DC in their response to an attack on the Pentagon on 9/11. This is politically correct nonsense from The Donald. It isn’t truth, it isn’t brash, and it isn’t honest.

The media know this, but they hate Cruz, so they’ll play along. Remember this: when former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani ran for president in 2008, the media scoffed every time he mentioned 9/11. Now Donald Trump does it to benefit himself politically, and they’re drooling.

In fact, the media attention to the Cruz/Trump “New York values” spat demonstrates more than anything else just how insular and self-centered New York media are. Their response to Cruz’s comments actually reinforces Cruz’s argument, as this insane cover from today’s New York Daily News shows:

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As Shapiro concludes, “So yes, ‘New York values’ means something. And it means more to those outside New York than those inside New York, who live in their own bubble and to whom the rest of the country is ‘flyover’ territory.”

As far as Trump and Cruz themselves, “Exit quotation: ‘The bromance is over.'”

THE SELF-DESTRUCTION OF THE AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: Bill Kristol begins his look at the American university system’s unraveling this week with a pair of quotes:

“To give oneself the law is the highest freedom. The much-lauded ‘academic freedom’ will be expelled from the German university; for this freedom was not genuine because it was only negative. It primarily meant lack of concern, arbitrariness of intentions and inclinations, lack of restraint in what was done and left undone. The concept of the freedom of the German student is now brought back to its truth. Henceforth, the bond and service of German students will unfold from this truth.”

Martin Heidegger 
“The Self-Assertion of the German University,” May 27, 1933

“If I am right in believing that Heidegger’s teachings are the most powerful intellectual force in our times, then the crisis of the German university, which everyone saw, is the crisis of the university everywhere.” *

Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind

As Kristol writes, “Let’s be clear about what is happening at Yale and Missouri, and at colleges and universities all across the nation: Freedom is under assault.” Read the whole thing.

* Curious isn’t it, that even as it defeated National Socialism, post-war America became an intellectual outpost of its predecessor, the Weimar Republic?

BOEHNER’S BIGGEST MISTAKE: A FAILURE OF IMAGINATION: “Weak, ineffectual, incompetent — he is, to my mind, the worst speaker in my lifetime,” Rick Moran writes. “But there is another factor that caused his downfall: an adherence to old-fashioned ideas about responsible governance and a failure to imagine a way to lead his fractious, undisciplined mob of a caucus.”

Boehner seems like he’d be a nice guy to have a beer and a smoke with – but the second coming of Gingrich, he certainly wasn’t. Speaking of whom, any chance you’d sign up for another go at the rodeo, Newt?

Related: “From a Democrat’s perspective,” Cruz said, “why would you let an appropriations bill pass if you can just wait until the end of the fiscal year, come right up to the edge of the cliff, and know Republican leadership will surrender? You don’t even have to guess on it. They promised you from the outset.”

CHRIS MATTHEWS’ DOG WHISTLE? HE ACCUSES BILL KRISTOL OF BEING NEOCON PUPPET MASTER: “Matthews, as we’ve documented time and again, revels in hitting Republican politicians for ‘dog whistle’ and ‘code word’ racial pitches in political messaging. Certainly Matthews has to be aware of the not-so-subtle nature of his vicious attack on a prominent Jewish conservative thinker and how it walks like and quacks like anti-Semitism.” Also in the same post, video from earlier this year “wherein Matthews whined about pro-Israel ‘piggish money people’ and their influence on GOP politics.”

All that being said, I think John Nolte of Big Journalism is correct when he writes about Kristol’s threat to support a third party, “The old GOP Establishment hotness was demanding Trump pledge in writing to support the Republican nominee, even if it isn’t Trump. He has since done so. It now looks as though the new GOP Establishment hotness is threatening to support a third party candidate if Trump wins — the same third party maneuver the Establishment loudly and repeatedly assured would mean a Hillary Clinton victory if Trump chose that route.”

Ross Perot, call your office.

“THE SILENT MAJORITY:” “I’ve suggested before that 2016 is beginning to look more and more like 1968,” Bill Kristol writes at the Weekly Standard. “This is true in terms of the presidential contests—on the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders is Eugene McCarthy, Hillary Clinton is Lyndon Johnson, Joe Biden will be Hubert Humphrey, and (the big question!) Elizabeth Warren could be Bobby Kennedy; and on the Republican side, where Donald Trump is ‘a kind of cartoon version of Richard Nixon.’”

Nixon won in ’68 in part by promoting himself as the “law & order” candidate, just as Trump is doing on the issue of illegal immigration. But the hangover from Johnson’s Great Society era and the left’s concomitant love of “Radical Chic” terrorism and economic and environmental Malthusianism lasted throughout the rest of the following decade, culminating in Carter’s infamous “Malaise” era.

Assuming a candidate with an (R) after his or her name wins next year, the hangover from the Obama era will be tremendous – as with the ‘70s, so will the punitive anger of the American left; don’t expect it to be “Morning in America” again for quite some time.

RELATED: “It’s GOP’s Race to Lose,” Ron Radosh writes. “Anything can happen, but Democratic prospects are weak no matter the candidate.”

C’mon – if anybody can blow it in 2016, it’s the Stupid Party.

BEING A WOMAN THE WRONG WAY: Bill Kristol interviews Christina Hoff Somers for 1:03:49

Somers: “They say ‘oh, we’re for sexual liberation’ but they’re not really because if you’re conventionally feminine — which many women are — or conventionally masculine, then that’s, they ‘problematize’ that or they feel sorry for you or they think you don’t have free will.”
Kristol: “What’s sad about gender studies … it’s a very interesting topic … there’s all kinds of lessons to be learned … but there’s no actual study of gender in gender studies.”

COLLEGE: AN OASIS OF TOTALITARIANISM IN A DESERT OF FREEDOM: Christina Hoff Sommers explains “How to survive the wacky gender politics on campus,” a survival guide for young people of all ideologies in a new five-minute long “Factual Feminist” video.

For a more detailed explanation of the campus reality lacuna and its origins, don’t miss Sommers’ new hour-long video interview with Bill Kristol on “how feminism went awry,” which concludes with an easy-to-follow introduction to the labyrinthine battles of GamerGate.

(Headline via Iowahawk.)

WHO WAS MAUREEN DOWD’S SOURCE? With Hillary stumbling, in order to advance the draft Biden campaign, Maureen Dowd enters into Bob Woodward territory and describes a “win one for the Gipper”-ish scene with a dying Beau Biden extracting a promise that his dad would run for the presidency. Bill Kristol asks who was Dowd’s source for this information?

Exit Question: How many dads call their male sons “honey?”

RELATED: Joe Biden for President?! Hillary Clinton Is a Weaker Candidate Than You Think.

THEY WERE FOR IT BEFORE THEY WERE AGAINST IT:

On April 7, 2015, President Barack Obama’s National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told CNN’s Jake Tapper, “under this deal, you will have anywhere, any time 24/7 access as it relates to the nuclear facilities that Iran has.”

Now, on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Secretary of State John Kerry said, “This is a term that, honestly, I never heard in the four years that we were negotiating. It was not on the table. There’s no such thing in arms control as any time, anywhere.”

Elsewhere in news from the Bizarro World, does Kerry believe he could use the Iranian deal as a springboard to another presidential run?

DAVID GELERNTER: COLLEGE STUDENTS ‘ARE SO IGNORANT THAT IT’S HARD TO ACCEPT HOW IGNORANT THEY ARE,’ Gelernter tells Bill Kristol while discussing his recent book America Lite. The video of the interview is online at YouTube; the transcript is here. Kristol asks Gelernter “Why is America ‘Lite’? Was it ever heavy? I mean, haven’t people been complaining about America-Lite for 200 years?”

GELERNTER: I guess they have, they’re never ever any shortage of complaints. And it’s true. It’s something one really has to keep in mind that any generation looking back is likely to be wistful and nostalgic on how great it used to be. Of course, we’ve made progress in a million ways. How about dentistry? An obvious example. We’re so much wealthier in the middle class; we take this for granted, but I think of my parents’ generation, the middle class has made enormous progress.

But America-Lite. I’m a teacher of college students. I’m lucky to be at one of the best colleges in the world, at Yale. Our students are as smart as any in the world. They work very hard to get here. They are eager, they’re likable. My generation is getting a chip on its shoulder, we always thought we knew everything about every topic, our professors were morons, and we were the ones who were building the world.

My students today are much less obnoxious. Much more likable than I and my friends used to be, but they are so ignorant that it’s hard to accept how ignorant they are. You tell yourself stories; it’s very hard to grasp that the person you’re talking to, who is bright, articulate, advisable, interested, and doesn’t know who Beethoven is. Had no view looking back at the history of the 20th century – just sees a fog. A blank. Has the vaguest idea of who Winston Churchill was or why he mattered. And maybe has no image of Teddy Roosevelt, let’s say, at all. I mean, these are people who – We have failed.

Which may partially help to explain the recent observations from the New York Times’ John Tierney while guest-blogging at Instapundit last week and the Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis that conservatives and leftists are speaking nearly completely different languages these days, making debate near impossible.

ANNALS OF “SMART DIPLOMACY:” “Six years ago, Obama goes to Cairo. Proclaims a new era. Today, Arab leaders won’t come to Camp David.”

A timely reminder from The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol about how and why Ronald Reagan was one of America’s greatest presidents and the most successful conservative political figure of the 20th Century. Hint: It wasn’t because he told a good yarn and it wasn’t because he and Democratic House Speaker Tip O’Neill got together at night and shared a few bipartisan laughs.

SEEMS REASONABLE TO ME: Kristol: GOP Senators Should Block Immigration Monday, Let Us and Them Read the Bill. I’m sick of being told I have to pass it to find out what’s in it.

MICKEY KAUS: Chuck Hagel’s Biggest Mideast Blunder Wasn’t About Israel:

Remember, Hagel didn’t just oppose the surge. He declared that it was “the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam”– the sort of emotionalized MSM-pleasing misjudgment that seems to have endeared him to so many GOP colleagues (who, as Marc Ambinder notes, ”think he’s a showboat and turncoat”).

Can’t Obama find a “anti-Israel” … Likud-skeptical figure who didn’t flamboyantly and self-righteously get wrong the most important military decision since the original 2003 Iraq invasion (which Hagel, by the way, voted to authorize)? Sure, Hillary and Kerry opposed the surge too. But not everyone did–not even everyone who opposed the war. Gen. Anthony Zinni, for example, isn’t someone likely to please Bill Kristol and AIPAC–but after opposing Bush’s invasion he had the balls to say that a surge was worth trying.

Have Hagel–or John Kerry–shown that kind of ability to transcend their own media images and biases?

Has Obama?

#BENGHAZI: TEN QUESTIONS FOR THE WHITE HOUSE, from Bill Kristol.

UPDATE: Some parsing from Prof. Stephen Clark:

There’s been much commentary swirling around the recent CIA and NSC statements that paraphrased amount to saying: No one denied requests for assistance and, it can be argued, that assistance was given. However, there are sins of commission and sins of omission: what does deny mean in this case?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Steve Eimers writes:

I decided to take my 8 year old son Vitali and picket in front of the Democrat HQ in Loudon County and near the early voting location in Lenoir City. I held a sign that said ‘What Happened in Benghazi?’ on one side and ‘Obama Unfit for Command.’

I had 15 people honk and give a thumbs up and 5 people flicked me and my eight year old son off. One woman came out and dropped the f-bomb on me and continued to curse me out in front of my son. Definitely could have used some ubiquitous video today. Next time I will have my camera!

You always want a camera.

There is an active and a passive meaning associated with that word. It is argued that assets were present and overhead during the attack on the annex: C130 gunships, drones, for example. Either they were or they weren’tAs evidence for the affirmative it is argued that Tyrone Woods, a former Navy SEAL, illuminated a mortar position, at severe risk of comprising his own position, and would have done so only with the knowledge that those assets were overhead. He either illuminated or not. Illumination suggests a direct request for use; was the request made?

Now, use of those assets has to be authorized – no passive meaning here. At any point in time, use of those assets can be denied actively; or passively by simply not issuing an authorization for use. There is no need for an order stating: “Do not use”. In this circumstance, note that it even can be argued that a request for use was not ignored or that there was a failure to respond, since the response would be no response. Remember, you’re dealing with word parsers in a situation now demanding much CYA in the wake of a FUBAR scenario.

All questions put must assume possible active or passive meanings to words. So, was direct authorization to use specific overhead assets in relief of the compound, or annex, issued during the time of the attacks: Yes, or no? If, “No”, then was a specific order to not use such assets issued: Yes, or no? If, “No”, then you have your passive denial of use.

I think the key bit is: “Remember, you’re dealing with word parsers in a situation now demanding much CYA in the wake of a FUBAR scenario.”

PODCAST: The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol discusses Benghazi with Michael Graham.

BILL KRISTOL: Dukakis, Kerry, . . . Romney? “Adopting a prevent defense when it’s only the second quarter and you’re not even ahead is dubious enough as a strategy. But his campaign’s monomaniacal belief that it’s about the economy and only the economy, and that they need to keep telling us stupid voters that it’s only about the economy, has gone from being an annoying tick to a dangerous self-delusion.” Focusing on the economy is important. But a single-note strategy is predictable, and has a single point of failure: Obama just has to make people feel good about the economy for a few months. And with the media’s help, if that’s all he has to do, he may be able to do it. Try striking from an unexpected direction sometime.

UPDATE: Mark Levin goes after David ‘the red’ Axelrod, tells Romney it’s time he pounded back.

MITT ROMNEY: The Last Man Standing? “The Republican Party has a history of nominating the fellow whose turn it is, and the reforms instituted in 2010 are apt to reinforce this propensity. They reward the candidate who finds it easiest to raise money and who is the best organized. Generally, that means the fellow who lost last time. . . . Enter Mitt Romney. Last time, he was the initial front-runner – until Mike Huckabee beat him in Iowa and exploited the tensions between evangelical Christians and Mormons in such a way as to damage his candidacy. Governor Romney knows how to run a national campaign, he has the remnants of his old organization, and he can easily raise money. Moreover, he has an advantage not unlike the one possessed by Michael Dukakis in 1988.” Okay, that part is just mean, but there’s also this: “The reason why I oppose Mitt Romney is simple, He was born to destroy everything that we have accomplished since the Tea-Party Movement emerged in the Spring of 2009. Romney is the very model of a managerial progressive. He has one great virtue. He knows how to run things; he knows how to organize things. He would make a good Secretary of Commerce. He has no understanding of the principles that underpin our government.”

I’m not crazy about Romney. The Insta-Wife kind of likes him, but the Smith women have a well-known weakness for Romney men — at least, her mother, growing up in Salt Lake City, had a crush on one of the Romney boys in high school. But if he’s the nominee, I think a lot of Tea Party folks will be less motivated.

I’m thinking that the response might be for Tea Party folks to focus more on House and Senate races. Even a squishy Republican President will be less squishy if the House and Senate are Tea Party friendly. And if the GOP loses the presidential election in 2012, a more Tea Party friendly Congress would limit Obama’s options. What do you think?

Related: Bill Quick: “The Palin/Cain ticket’s chances keep looking better and better.”

UPDATE: Little Miss Attila writes:

Romney is evil; we need T-Paw!

I’m going all in, especially on the Polish angle.

And reader Dave Martin writes:

If a shifty, professional politician is nominated, it will not only focus indy’s like myself on House/Senate races but also on backing a third party candidate. Prior to the 2008 election, I had never given money to any politician. Since the begining of that race, I have given to Thompson, Hoffman, Rubio, Brown and last week, Cain. If Romney or Newt get the Republican nomination, I will not play ball.

It is not a threat, it is a promise. If independents are needed to beat Obama, then give us a straight shooter for a GOP nominee and Obama will lose. Am anticipating the line “a third party vote is not a vote against Romney, it is a vote for Obama” and would like someone to frame it the other way- nominating a professional politician for the presidential race will ensure Obama gets a second term- I trust that sentiment will be understood after the McCain fail and further hope that the Tea Party movement provides all the proof any RNC types may need to support a reformer. I am probably wrong but this time I have hope for a change.

Well, the third-party threat is a credible one, this time. But, of course, if people back the right guy in the primaries, it won’t come to that.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Well, by hitting Limbaugh upon launch (“The American spirit is being crushed and discouraged by this president and the direction he’s taking this country.”), Pawlenty’s obviously taking a shot at the stop-Mitt slot. I’ve had issues with Pawlenty before, but going straight to Limbaugh suggests he’s ready to talk to the base.

MORE: The Utah Tea Party’s David Kirkham writes:

“Even a squishy Republican President will be less squishy if the House and Senate are Tea Party friendly.”

The last thing we need is squishy.

We need to draw a line in the sand between the hogs and the trough.

We need someone to stand up for everyone’s freedom, not someone who blows with the global warming wind (Pawlenty), or defends Romney care (Romney).

I emailed back to ask who he likes.

MORE STILL: He responds: “Sadly…no one. None of the above.” Well, back to the House and Senate races, I guess. . . . Or maybe Bill Kristol’s right that the next president isn’t running yet.

Also, Herman Cain says the GOP gives him no respect.

AND EVEN MORE: Reader Daniel Tenney writes:

While I am enjoying the lively debate you’ve started, I feel like I have to say a word or two in defense of Romney. I am a stalwart Tea Party supporter here in Arizona, and all of the flak that Romney gets from Tea Party types frankly troubles me. I thought the one, single overriding issue in the minds of Tea Partiers was fiscal restraint–a candidate could have any other kind of record, but if he or she promised fiscal sanity, Tea Party backing was almost a guarantee (see Brown, Scott). Isn’t his managerial, CEO-type “turnaround” leadership Romney’s biggest selling point? You can nitpick Romney’s record on social issues (which I know aren’t important to you, Glenn), disagree with him on foreign policy (where he seems just fine to me) or take RomneyCare to be heresy. But his fiscal record is more or less impeccable. He took a liberal state, with a hard-left legislature and a massive defecit, and somehow balanced the books without sending taxes through the roof. If fiscal restraint is the Tea Party’s number one issue, how is this guy not the Tea Party favorite?

Well, keep the debate going.

And Professor Stephen Clark writes: “Rove and Krauthammer amuse me with their response to Herman Cain. Since when has it become self-evident that a man with the professional accomplishments of Herman Cain is unfit to hold the office of President for not having spent the better part of his life as an elected politician and has, unforgivably, remained unknown to the likes of Rove and Krauthammer? Paging Professor Codevilla.”

CHICKS DIG BAD BOYS: “Despite his most-wanted status and allegations of sexual misconduct, the WikiLeaks founder is intriguingly attractive to many women. . . . Oddly enough, I’m reminded of the moment in the last election cycle when Obama was being hailed as a ‘pimp’ by adoring Facebook supporters. . . . On some level, Assange’s supporters may want to believe he overstepped boundaries, without thinking of him as a thug. This distinction certainly happened with Bill Clinton and his feminist fans. Pro-choice Clinton apparently exposing himself to Paula Jones was, according to Gloria Steinem, not guilty of sexual harassment, while anti-choice conservative Clarence Thomas telling dirty jokes was a serious offense. . . . If William Kristol were accused of doing any of the above during a sexual encounter, he wouldn’t inspire nearly as much sympathy among liberal women. Yet Wolf, dwelling in a ‘boys will be boys’ way on Assange’s allegedly boorish dating style, reminds us that female appetites are as unpredictable as those of men.”

BILL KRISTOL: HR1 — RESCIND THE EARMARKS. “I can’t believe the Democratic Congress will be foolish and hubristic enough to go ahead and jam though the omnibus appropriations bill with its 6,488 earmarks totaling nearly $8.3 billion. But if they do: Shouldn’t the Republican House leadership commit to making H.R. 1 in the next Congress a bill rescinding all the earmarks and the whole $8.3 billion?”

BILL KRISTOL: Olbermann’s suspension “unjust.”

UPDATE: Gerard van der Leun explains.

ABSOLUT VICTORY: STEPHEN GREEN IS Drunkblogging Obama’s Iraq Speech.

Bush got a mention, the troops got two mentions — but I haven’t hear thanks to either one. . . .

What the hell is this? Seriously. We were promised an update on Iraq. Instead we’re getting a defense of Obamanomics, which unlike the Surge (anyone?), has been a total failure.

Read the whole thing. And weep, or laugh, or something. Drink!

UPDATE: More from Prof. Jacobson.

And here’s the full text of Obama’s speech.

Plus, what Obama said about the surge when it mattered.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More then-and-now comparison.

MORE: Obama In The Oval Office: “First, a visual observation: he looked scrawny and ill-at-ease at the large, empty desk. There were no funny hand gestures this time, as there was for the Oil Spill address. This speech did have some good moments, which I will start with.”

MORE STILL: Celebrating V-I Day back in 2008.

STILL MORE: Bill Kristol: “It wasn’t a bad speech.”

IS BILL KRISTOL ENGAGING IN WISHFUL THINKING, or has the left collapsed? My take: Great polls kid. Don’t get cocky.

MCCHRYSTAL FIRED, Petraeus asked to take over. Will MoveOn and Keith Olbermann reprise their “General BetrayUs” routine?

UPDATE: A reader emails: “What’s it say about the MSM that a Presidential Candidate and a Commanding General were taken down by the National Enquirer and Rolling Stone Magazine? They’re not exactly bastions of journalistic integrity-or did things suddenly invert over the last 10 years?” Well, they still do actual reporting.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Obama Votes “Present” — And That’s A Good Thing.

MORE: Michael Yon emails:

The United States has again called upon General David Petraeus during crisis. There have been other times, the most remarkable being in January 2007 when we were on the cusp of losing the war in Iraq. The chances against success were increasingly remote. I was there through the entire surge, and more, and saw the remarkable transformation under command of General Petraeus and due to the incredible efforts of our armed forces and civilian counterparts. No book that I have read, including the one that I wrote, has fully conveyed the magnitude of those days. You simply had to be there.

Here we are again. This time on the cusp of losing the war in Afghanistan. The situation is worse than ever before. Again, the United States has asked General David Petraeus to step into a situation that seems hopeless to many people. It is not hopeless, just extremely bad. All is not lost, just nearly lost. Our people can turn this war around.

I’m pulling for them, God knows.

Plus this comment: “Brilliant choice by the President. He removes his hand-picked choice for someone he had no confidence in just 2 years ago.” Yes, underemphasized in all of this is that McChrystal was Obama’s hand-picked choice, for whom the previously serving general, David McKiernan, was unceremoniously removed. That switch was one of Obama’s first major decisions as commander-in-chief.

Meanwhile, look whose bacon Petraeus is being called in to save.

STILL MORE: Victor Davis Hanson:

It is one of ironies of our present warped climate that Petraeus will face far less criticism from the media and politicians than during 2007–8 (there will be no more “General Betray Us” ads or “suspension of disbelief” ridicule), because his success this time will reflect well on Obama rather than George Bush. It is a further irony that Obama is surging with Petraeus despite not long ago declaring that such a strategy and such a commander were failures in Iraq. And it is an even further irony that he is now rightly calling for “common purpose” when — again not long ago, at a critical juncture in Iraq — Obama himself, for partisan purposes on the campaign trail, had no interest in the common purpose of military success in Iraq.

Indeed.

MORE STILL: What MoveOn was saying.

Plus, from Michael Barone: President Obama took command. And this: “Incidentally, the appointment of Petraeus to replace McChrystal was recommended yesterday by the Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol. Does the president read the Weekly Standard’s The Blog?” Better that than some other blogs he’s taken direction from . . . .

FINALLY: MoveOn Scrubs “General Betray Us” Page From Website. Have you noticed how these people are always airbrushing? It’s kind of an admission that their stuff won’t sell if they tell the truth. . . .

POLITICS’ SAD LEXICON: Bill Kristol On “Marx, Keynes, Pelosi;” it’s sort of like Tinkers to Evers to Chance, except all the plays only bounce around the left side of the infield.

ROSS DOUTHAT TO TAKE BILL KRISTOL’S SLOT at the New York Times. A good pick.

AZIZ POONAWALLA ARGUES THAT Joshua Treviño should replace Bill Kristol. Treviño is a swell guy, but is he “establishment” enough for the Times?

REPLACING BILL KRISTOL with Ann Althouse? They could do worse. And probably will!

BARACK OBAMA dines with Bill Kristol and David Brooks. At George Will’s house.

UPDATE: “The bloggers are going to love this one.”

HAYEK RESPONDS TO BILL KRISTOL.

BILL KRISTOL: McCain-Jindal?

UPDATE: Too early for Jindal? Seems that way to me.

BYRON YORK:

Speaking of “God damn America,” if you read only the New York Times — if that were your only source of news — you might not even know that Wright had uttered those words. A Nexis search shows that the only place Rev. Wright’s “God damn America” proclamation has been reported in the Times was in Bill Kristol’s column yesterday. That column was noticed mostly for a factual error — Kristol repeated a claim from an inaccurate NewsMax report — but as serious as that was, it seems that Times readers should at least thank Bill for telling them what the news pages would not.

Indeed.

BILL KRISTOL’S NEW YORK TIMES COLUMN GIG IS CONFIRMED, and Jonah Goldberg has some thoughts. Plus, a response to the NYT review of his book.

FROM TIME TO THE NEW YORK TIMES? The HuffPo is reporting that Bill Kristol will become an NYT columnist in 2008. So far, HuffPo commenters seem less than pleased.

NEAL GABLER acts classy.

DON’T TUG ON SUPERMAN’S CAPE. I’d say that The New Republic’s defenders haven’t helped its position any. Or their own.

UPDATE: Deconfabulation. And a related item here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Kaus weighs in. And there’s this: “The New Republic is clearly out of friends just as surely as it is out of ammo.” They do seem to have trouble finding defenders from outside the TNR family, and even the defenses they’re getting are oblique — attacks on the critics, rather than defenses of TNR. Big roundup on TNR here.

BILL KRISTOL: “What Harry Reid said is much more disgraceful than anything Trent Lott said. And I do think Democrats should ask Harry Reid [to] step down.”

“THANKS JOHN: You’re a really big help.”

UPDATE: Eric Scheie: “This is not to suggest that Bush is perfect. Far from it. I’m often disappointed in him, and many times I’ve looked back and asked whether things might have been different had Kerry won. The answer is yes they would have. I think they would have been worse. The more I read about Kerry, the more I’m glad I didn’t vote for him.”

Yes. Bush, as I’ve said many times, was a weak candidate. It’s just that Kerry was much weaker.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Heh: “In response to Bill Kristol saying John Kerry shouldn’t have left home to criticize American foreign policy abroad, Brit Hume yesterday quipped: ‘Is it really fair to John Kerry to argue, Bill, that when he’s in Switzerland, he’s away from home?'”

BILL KRISTOL’S John Madden-style diagrams on Fox really don’t work.