A Brief Word About Bill Kristol

Bill Kristol has done vastly more to chart this nation's course than almost any of those rooting against him.

I think a few people misread my point in this piece about Phil Anschutz as me being hostile to Bill Kristol. It was not my intention to bag on Bill, though we disagree at times on the Trump Administration. The point was that press reports seem to be consistent that Anschutz has issues with Kristol and I think it might have been advisable to more fully separate Kristol from the Standard so Anschutz didn't take out his frustrations with him on the Standard.

All that said, I do see a number of people, including friends of mine, ready to dance on Bill Kristol's grave and, with my apologies and no disrespect intended to my friends, I think tremendously of Bill Kristol even though we might at times disagree and occasionally disagree sharply. Bill and I have often not seen eye to eye on the Trump Administration, even if we often largely agree about the man himself.

Bill Kristol has been vastly more influential in shaping public policy in America than pretty much anyone rooting against him. The fact that Kristol lives rent free in so many people's heads, causing them fits and convulsions, is also to his credit. There are few people able to get under other people's skin as deeply as Kristol has. He has done so through force of word and idea. He has also done so while being a far kinder and generous person than many of those who assail him and has far better character than the man they all cheer.

I don't want this to sound like an obituary and continue to believe Phil Anschutz would be making a ridiculous mistake in shuttering the Standard, but I want to make sure the record is clear here. I'm rooting for both Bill Kristol and the Standard. They have been and deserve to remain influential intellectual voices in the United States. The grievances that others nurse against them speak vastly more about the character of those who would assail them and the inability to ignore Kristol and the Standard but instead feel the need to cheer on their demise is a reminder how lacking in grace some are.

If Phil Anschutz intends to be the grim reaper for one of the most important intellectual publications on the right, I hope and pray the team that made the Weekly Standard is able to land elsewhere and pick back up the banner quickly. It is not the name of the publication that matters, but the ideas and individuals who steered that ship.

As for Anschutz himself, I have never met the man, but he has unquestionably been a force for good. And that is what would make carving up the Standard for parts and mailing lists such a sad part of his biography. He has something very valuable in this publication and, just given what we've seen this past week from the Mueller investigation, you'd think he would want to preserve and promote the publication steering clear of the icebergs and maintaining intellectual integrity through these somewhat uncharted waters. I am excited for his new publication. I think there is room for another. I think the magazines will compliment each other. But the rise of the one need not mean the demise of the other. I hope he reconsiders.

Comments
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Carlo Monte
Carlo Monte

I don't know but the more I read about this whole thing, the more I think that nobody has the crystal ball (ahem) and that something unexpected is going to happen. Kristol is far too important and valuable as a public intellectual, and the Weekly Standard is too good a magazine (regardless of whether it makes money) to just fade away. There has to be something we're not privy to.

DavidMKern
DavidMKern

Kristol (and George Will and other elite conservative commentators) made the decision that they would rather try to take out Trump at all costs, even if it meant the Democrats would retain the Presidency. Unfortunately for Kristol (and the Weekly Standard), nothing was more important to the conservative base than keeping the Democrats from a third Presidential term. Numerous other conservatives who were not early Trump supporters have come to realize that many of Trump's policies are conservative, even if he is not an ideological conservative. However, Bill Kristol never made that adaptation, and like the arrogant Captain Tupolev in "The Hunt For Red October," he torpedoed his own sub. I don't think many conservatives are willing to shed tears for any talking head who preferred to have Hillary as President.

KirkWalden
KirkWalden

Agree that Bill has done so much good. It's been frustrating however, to follow him on Twitter as he can't seem to find anything positive in the Trump agenda. There is plenty to criticize, certainly, and I'm just as frustrated with those who can't find fault with the president. I think many of us have found this balance on this site.

etbass
etbass

Kristol has simply lost his mind since Trump became President. He is every bit the cultist that the Trumpers are, he's just on the opposite side of the coin. He has lost his intellectual and moral integrity. Kristol has changed his principles when necessary to oppose Trump, that is the definition of a cultist.

For example, if Bush nominated Kavanaugh and he was slandered, Kristol would have been there defending him. He didn't because Trump nominated him. That's a cultist. We need less cultists, not more.

I separate the Standard from Kristol, but he's soiled it by association.

MistyBat
MistyBat

Kristol's twitter feed is Everything! Going inside his head is trippy, intellectually stimulating, and often hilarious. He's definitely on my list of "10 Americans I'd like to be trapped in an elevator with".

Anschutz already has another publication that regularly hews closer to the Trumpist line: Washington Examiner. Today, they have a column ripping Ben Sasse to shreds for asking his 280,000 twitter followers whether Trump is the cause, or merely a consequence, of national disunity. The outraged response: MAGA! (but with more words)

If keeping Weekly Standard alive means getting rid of Bill Kristol, okay. He doesn't write there much anymore, at any rate. I'll still cherish his droll presence on TV, and read his sly wit online. But I placed a bet on that magazine by subscribing. There aren't many places left for centrists to call home.