Bill Kristol predicts a favorable Bush legacy.

Bill Kristol predicts a favorable Bush legacy.

Bill Kristol predicts a favorable Bush legacy.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
July 16 2007 5:42 PM

Kristol Clear

Bloggers pick apart Bill Kristol's column in the Sunday Washington Post and process a tale of an armed robber subdued by unexpected hospitality.

Kristol clear: Neocon Bill Kristol claims in a Washington Post column that history will view the Bush administration fondly. (Disclosure: Slate is owned by the Washington Post Co.) The booming economy and the absence (thus far) of another terrorist attack on U.S. soil are part of it, but Kristol believes Gen. David Petraeus will lead America to success in Iraq. Blogger response falls along predictable lines.

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Arianna Huffington overhead Kristol's "deluded triumphalist drivel" on the NY-DC Amtrak Acela last week: "The charitable view is that he's lost his mind. The less charitable view is that he's now officially surpassed Dick Cheney as the most intellectually dishonest member of the neocon establishment." "I take the quiet car myself. Less neocon blather," writes war supporter turned critic Andrew Sullivan, who is unconvinced by Kristol's view of Petraeus: "He's a good and decent general; but he cannot perform miracles, or defy reality. The reality is: Iraq no longer exists. Right now, we're asking young Americans to die to keep Bill Kristol's grand political narrative from being one notch less than absurd."

At PoliBlog, Troy University political science prof Dr. Steven Taylor also weighs in on Petraeus: "Now, I do think that Petraeus was a good appointment and I further believe that if we had engaged in many of the anti-insurgent policies he is currently using years ago, we would probably be in better shape in Iraq. However, an improving security situation in Diyala and Anbar are not enough to proclaim that we are on the road to victory."

"[T]he article reads as so transparently written in bad faith -- it's utterly half-hearted and vacuous, clearly not intended to persuade anyone of anything," opines D.C liberal Matthew Yglesias. Logan Murphy at liberal Crooks and Liars notes that there were 200 pages of comments on the Post's Web site Monday about the piece, with only several in support of "Baghdad Bill" Kristol.

Kristol is just continuing the conservative line on President Bush, some find. "It's like a cult of personality, and William Kristol has been one of the leading preachers of it. So it's not surprising at all that he comes up with this magical mystery tour of why Bush will be a winner," writes Mustang Bobby at liberal Shakesville.

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Conservatives applaud Kristol's stand. Kim Priestap at conservative Wizbang dubs the article a "must read," writing: "Right now the Democrats and their willing accomplices in the media are so consumed with Bush Derangement Syndrome that all the good this president has done and is doing is being drowned out."

At Flopping Aces, conservative Curt says you gotta have heart: "[O]ne big reason why I believe Bush will go down as a great one is because he was the kind of President that we rarely see.  One who does not govern by polls but instead governs by his heart.  One who believes in the decisions he makes and does not waffle when bad polls come in." In a similar vein, righty Angevin13 at Oxford Medievalist concludes that Americans will pine for the heyday of the Bush era if the Democrats win in 2008: "A Democrat in 2008, who will surely reverse course in just about everything President Bush has done, might serve to remind people that, though he was terrible at making his case, President Bush was largely correct and did the right thing for the country."

Read more reaction to Kristol's piece.

Hug it out: Bloggers are still abuzz over an armed robber who had a change of heart after his surprised hosts offered him a glass of fine wine. The drama ended in a group hug.

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Ryan Rodrick Beiler * at God's Politics sees biblical shades in the tale. The story "is ripe with indirect biblical allusions—though the article makes no mention of any spiritual or philosophical motivations for anyone's actions. And of course, there's every possibility that in spite of a nonviolent response, it or similar situations might not have ended as happily—but Jesus never promised as much when he taught us to love our enemies and bless them. In fact, he promised the opposite. Still, it's beautiful when turning the other cheek, giving your shirt, and going the extra mile have the intended effect: confronting our enemies with our humanity—and their own."

At Debate Link,Carleton undergrad David Schraub points out that the incident is an example of "script breaking," writing, "[T]he best hope might be trying to divert the narrative from one recognized situation (robbery) to another recognized situation (dinner party)--even if the recognition stems only from media, TV, or social mores rather than lived-experience. But this only mitigates, not eliminates, the danger."

Astonished Bostonian Jesse Legg at Idea Critic wonders what he would have done: "I often have vague fantasies that if needed I could coerce would-be attackers into another line of thinking. In reality, one should take Richard Pryor's advice and RUN." Not so for Mekender at My Twizted Reality, who would have taken a more violent approach: "I guess in a city where owning handguns is damn near illegal, you have to use alcohol and cheese as a weapon against crime… I gotta say, its not actually that bad of a tactic, but i would have probably ended the situation by beating the hell out of the guy until the cops showed up."

Read more about the bizarre nonrobbery.

Correction, July 17, 2007: The article originally misidentified the author of the God's Politics blog post as Jim Wallis. (Return to the corrected sentence.)

Sonia Smith is an associate editor at Texas Monthly.