It’s widely agreed that Bill Kristol’s tenure as a New York Times op-ed columnist has been a fiasco — not for Kristol, whose flat-footed, me-too hackery is old news, but for the Gray Lady, who showed the extraordinary bad judgment to pick him.
Most of Kristol’s stuff is instantly forgettable, but yesterday brought what I think may be the single stupidest paragraph to be published anywhere this year:
Similarly, if you’re against big government, you’ll oppose a huge public works stimulus package. If you think some government action is inevitable, you might instead point out that the most unambiguous public good is national defense. You might then suggest spending a good chunk of the stimulus on national security — directing dollars to much-needed and underfunded defense procurement rather than to fanciful green technologies, making sure funds are available for the needed expansion of the Army and Marines before rushing to create make-work civilian jobs. Obama wants to spend much of the stimulus on transportation infrastructure and schools. Fine, but lots of schools and airports seem to me to have been refurbished more recently and more generously than military bases I’ve visited.
[Seriously. I challenge you to find a dumber paragraph. We should have a contest or something.]
For one thing (via):
But I bring this up not just to bash Kristol but to make a point. The left generally and environmentalism specifically has no analogous figure — nobody inside in the Beltway establishment whose job is to make the most outrageously extreme claims possible, in the most respected outlets. Kristol probably knows that most of what he says gets laughed at, but just by saying it (where he’s saying it) he nudges the window a little, makes it a little more legitimate for the next guy.
With environmentalism you have almost the opposite situation. Virtually everything you see in the mainstream media is some Very Serious journalist or pundit talking about how the demands of extreme environmentalists must be tempered by Sober Realism. What readers of mainstream media almost never hear is the demands of the allegedly extreme environmentalists. They are like irrational phantoms hovering on the edge of the national dialogue.
The right’s accomplishments, in terms of building an alternative media and intellectual establishment, looks a little less impressive in light of recent events. But the fact that the universe has lined up in such a way that a guy like Kristol can be writing in a place like the NYT is something to behold. Would that greens could figure out how to work that kind of magic.