On October 5, Bill Kristol used his New York Times column to describe his telephone interview with Sarah Palin, during which they both agreed that the McCain/Palin campaign must attack Obama harder on his “associations,” particularly with Bill Ayers. He ended his column this way:
I asked at the end of our conversation whether Palin, fresh off her own debate, had any advice for McCain. . . . “Have fun. Be yourself, and have fun. And Senator McCain can do the same.” She paused, and I was about to thank her for the interview, but she had one more thing to say. “Only maybe I’d add just a couple more words, and that would be: ‘Take the gloves off.’ ”
And maybe I’d add, Hockey Mom knows best.
On October 7, Kristol went on Fox News and urged McCain to use Bill Ayers to attack Obama in the debate:
I disagree with all of the advice that McCain is getting. . . . You have to talk endlessly about the economy. These attacks on Obama on Bill Ayers and possibly Reverend Wright don’t matter. I don’t agreewith that. . . . McCain has got to tie the economic crisis to Obama’s character and judgment and say: ”who do you want in charge for four difficult years, who is up to the job — is this inexperienced, liberal Democrat who has hung out with some pretty unsavory characters, is he the guy who you want him to run the country?” I think that’s got to be the core of McCain’s message tonight.
Though McCain didn’t bring it up in the debate, since then, the campaign has followed Kristol’s advice, talking about Ayers more than any other single topic. But now that it is conclusively clear that these attacks are failing — that they are actually backfiring and making Obama more popular and McCain and Palin more unpopular — Kristol went on Fox News this morning and attacked the McCain campaign for running what he called a “stupid campaign” and “a pathetic campaign” because the attacks ”haven’t worked” and they’re “doing things that don’t work and they keep doing them” — without ever bothering to mention that he, Kristol, just last week, was one of the loudest and most vocal advocates for relying on these character attacks against Obama:
That’s typical Bill Kristol — not only chronically wrong about everything, but far worse, completely incapable of acknowledging mistakes. He just suppresses them, pretends they don’t exist, and in that regard is the perfect face for the right-wing movement that is dying a painful, harsh and profoundly well-deserved death in front of everyone’s eyes.
What we’re seeing in this video is just the start of the angry recriminations in this movement as they seek to blame each other for what has happened. As John Cole puts it: “The coming circular firing squad is going to be fun.” It’s also likely to be protracted, bitter and brutal. Looking around at the utter destruction they’ve sown — to our Constitution, to our economy, to our standing in the world, and to multiple other countries — that is the only just outcome.