Bill Kristol: Still being listened to, apparently

After his 2008 running mate pick turned out so well, another Republican nominee goes with a Kristol favorite

Topics: 2008 Elections, 2012 Elections, Bill Kristol, Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, Sarah Palin,

Bill Kristol: Still being listened to, apparentlyBill Kristol (Credit: Wikipedia/Gage Skidmore)

Smirking hack and Weekly Standard editor William Kristol is wrong about nearly everything, but he has been right about two things: that John McCain would select Sarah Palin as his running mate, and that Mitt Romney would select Paul Ryan as his running mate. Naturally this has made him insufferable:

Kristol doesn’t agree with the negative assessments of Iraq or Palin and dismisses the notion that his previous hits and misses have any bearing on Ryan’s future.

“That argument is almost as silly as someone saying that in the 80s I was a supporter of Reagan’s foreign policy, which won the Cold War, and his tax cuts, which led to economic growth; in the 90s I supported intervention in the Balkans and welfare reform, both of which worked; and in the last decade I opposed Harriet Miers, whose withdrawal paved the way for a terrific justice, Sam Alito; and I supported the surge in Iraq, which worked — and, therefore, I’m some sort of prophet!,” he told POLITICO.

“I guess what I’d say is that, I think, on the whole, my batting average isn’t bad,” he said.

Of course while he was right about the fact of the selection of Sarah Palin, he was wrong — quite disastrously wrong — about whether or not the Palin selection was a good decision. (Oh, and Iraq! Again, Mr. Kristol was correct in predicting that the United States would have a war there. The rest of his predictions did not really turn out so well.)

Kristol was right about these specific two things in part because those two presidential candidates listened to his advice, and they did so because they both misunderstood Bill Kristol’s job. They believed his job is to help the Republican party to win elections, like Karl Rove. (In 2008, Rove pushed McCain to pick Romney.) In fact his job is to push the Republican Party to embrace his preferred policies. His major priority is obviously neoconservative foreign policy (war everywhere forever, especially against Iran), but he also supports Ryan-style regressive changes to the tax code that he justifies with the supply-side economics his dad championed.

So Kristol can be made to be correct in his positions when candidates and politicians are dumb enough to listen to him, apparently. (When he is predicting things about non-Republicans, he is still always wrong.) But as we have all repeatedly learned, what Bill Kristol thinks is good for America and the Republican Party is invariably toxic for both.

Alex Pareene

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at and follow him on Twitter @pareene

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