In the Arena

Kristol Blue Dissuasion

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Sometimes it is great, cruel fun watching Bill Kristol dash about, attempting to be a power broker. He’s a smart, cynical tactician–but power? The Gods are too smart for such indulgences. He loved the idea of Sarah Palin…until it became clear that the public saw her as a more plausible candidate for Celebrity Apprentice than for high office. Now, Kristol has pathetically tried to promote a “young guns” Republican presidential ticket of Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio for 2012. Ain’t gonna happen. But it does give an indication of how Kristol feels about the current hopeless crop of hopefuls. He senses that they are something less than world class.

Ryan is smart, sincere and suicidal. He’s tilting against some of the most popular programs out there: 80% of the American people don’t want Medicare to be changed. It probably needs changing–or funding, through higher taxes–but not with Ryan’s pickaxe. His budget proposal, released today, is about as popular with his Republican colleagues as malaria. As for Rubio, who knows? He has “distinguished” himself so far by saying he’ll vote against expanding the U.S. debt ceiling, a perverse a point of principle that would, if enacted, throw the Greatest Nation in the history of the World into bankruptcy–now, that would be American Exceptionalism.

Why is Kristol doing this, aside from desperation? He is casting guru-bait. Neither Ryan nor Rubio knows a jot about foreign policy. Neither does Kristol, but he thinks he does and loves to play ballistic from his armchair–George W. Bush inimitably named him one of the “bomber boys,” along with Charles Krauthammer. If the Ry-Ru ticket gained traction, Kristol would hope to land a pair of foreign policy acolytes.

Actually, he’s going to need those acolytes. The are signs that the Republican Party is catching up to the public: Americans are truly sick of spending their money (or, more to the point, borrowing money) for unnecessary foreign wars. Kristol’s bellicosity is getting musty, actually downright rancid, after a decade of blood and loss. This would be amusing, if–well, there really isn’t reason to take it seriously, so it is amusing. Kristol’s current writhings are a hoot.