Bill Kristol Isn't a 'Renegade Jew.' Just a Sore Loser Throwing a Tantrum
No one in the conservative Commentariat has beaten up on poor Bill Kristol more than I during the past dozen years. I read David Horowitz' excoriation of Kristol as a "renegade Jew" with chagrin; I respect David Horowitz -- and have spoken at his conferences on several occasions -- and I reviewed admiringly his book A Point in Time.
But his choice of words was churlish. Kristol devotes considerable time to Jewish causes and genuinely identifies as a Jew, although his level of religious observance is low (as is David's). Kristol certainly doesn't think that he has reneged on his Jewish identity. But he is so absorbed in the cultish self-adoration of the neo-conservative clique, and so insecure about the perception of his manifold policy blunders (for example, his naive endorsement of the Arab Spring as near-equivalent to the American Founding), that his judgment of late has been dreadful. His third-party proposal will go nowhere.
Kristol makes the mistake of thinking that he still matters. The neo-conservatives enforced party discipline in the media and foundations they control with the same inquisitorial zeal that the Left applies to the persecution of conservatives at American universities. They crushed dissent ruthlessly, and declared anathema upon anyone who questioned them.
Now the American people have vomited them out. No candidate who took ownership of the Bush Freedom Agenda got past first base in the Republican primaries.
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.
I feel no schadenfreude at Bill Kristol's embarrassment. The neo-conservatives built the closest thing that America has had to a conservative intellectual movement, and it is sad that it has failed. What we have in its place is Donald Trump, a man who has no books in his palatial New York penthouse. Let's hope that God continues to look out for drunks, small children, and the United States of America.