Where the Smarm hits the Road

by Kieran Healy on August 29, 2007

For those inclined to think that a willingness to grind up real people’s lives in the pursuit of grand political causes is a distinctively left-wing vice, we present Mr Bill Kristol.



John Protevi 08.29.07 at 4:17 pm

Shorter Bill Kristol: “it’s all Donald Rumsfeld’s fault, him and his silly lean and mean hi-tech military idea.”


tribalecho 08.29.07 at 4:20 pm

Bill Kristol looks appropriately disgusting.

Love the way he first tries not to look into the camera.


tribalecho 08.29.07 at 4:25 pm

So….what did he say about the draft?


thag 08.29.07 at 4:51 pm

has anyone posted a transcript of this yet?
sometimes crooks & liars has them, but they don’t seem to have this one.


abb1 08.29.07 at 5:08 pm

…the army is too small for the world we live in…

I couldn’t agree more. 6.6 billion people in this world we live in – that’s 6.3 billion hostiles. We need roughly 20 soldiers per thousand hostiles to contain and defeat the insurgency and that’s at least a 130 million soldiers. Let’s start recruiting.


stuart 08.29.07 at 5:27 pm

Considering 72% of the US population ‘want the terrorists to win’ as well, doesn’t that mean they need 100% of the remainder to sign up?


e julius drivingstorm 08.29.07 at 6:09 pm

Right on, ma’am. I hope your relief will not come too late.

Republicans view raising taxes as political suicide and instituting a draft will alienate virtually all voters of draft age. They want to maneuver the Dems into doing these things.

Dems should advocate higher pay and bonuses for the military until they effectively attract the numbers we need, then make the Republicans pay for it.


Steve LaBonne 08.29.07 at 6:18 pm

Is it OK to hope the terrorists win if they promise to behead Bill Kristol? (Joke, for the humor-impaired wingers.)


Roy Belmont 08.29.07 at 6:21 pm

America is a fiction. A utilitarian construct, abstract, like money, made of vapor and credulity and the yearning of inferior men. It – and its dwindling but still not negligible resources – must and will be utilized for higher purposes, our purposes, which must and will remain understood but unspoken. Our purposes are higher because we are superior people, this fact is plainly obvious to superior people.
Sacrificing the inferior to aid and augment the superior makes moral, ethical, and Darwinian sense. Accent on Darwinian, secondary accents on moral, ethical.


alkali 08.29.07 at 6:47 pm

ThinkProgress has the transcript:

HOST: You are on the air.

CALLER: Yes, thank you. I do listen to the discussion. I’m a military wife. My husband on the third tour to Iraq. I just want to if I could look Mr. Kristol and people like him from the American Enterprise Institute and the people pushing the war, I’m sure when your head hits the pillow, you know, you have a luxury of dreaming about, you know, anything that your mind will allow you to dream about. I’m waiting — i sleep with the phone under the pillow.

My kids — if someone rings the doorbell, instead of normal kids they freeze. And they’re in elementary school. You all don’t understand. We are military people but we are people, too. And the stress that we are under is tremendous. So I make a proposal before I have to leave the air. If this war is as important as you on the right and the hawks say it is, and if it is truly essential to our vital interest to do this, then institute the draft so we can have a break.

We are at the breaking point. I just had to counsel a friend last night who has had a solid marriage for 14 years because their marriage is falling apart because they’re military and haven’t lived under the same roof together in five years. We’re people. We can’t keep up the stress level. Our children can’t keep up the stress level.

The spouses left behind can’t keep up the stress level and all you all keep saying, you just called my husband and all the troops a liar saying it is mostly the insurgents attacking us. Because when I do get the luxury of speaking to my husband, what I’m hearing is Iraqis let us through the gates, the security forces let us through and 30 minutes after we pass through, they’re laying down IEDs to blow us up if we come back through. They don’t want us there. I understand you truly believe what you’re saying but it’s not working.

We can’t want it for them more than they want it for themselves. Please bring my husband home, the brave troops. We are tired. We’re really tired.

KRISTOL: Well, look. the army some of us that argue — first of all, I respect the service of those who’ve been over there. I just had dinner last night with close friends whose son just came back from Iraq and it is tough duty and now we’re on second and third tours. some of us argued for a long time before 9/11 and very much after 9/11 that the army and marines were too small for the world we are living in. the foreign policy obligations we are likely to have to impose for the all-volunteer military and finally we are increasing the size of the army and the marines and paying a price for that in terms of longer tours and people going back a second and third times and the strains on family life are obviously very real and obviously it’s a tough job over there. so i hope we do more to deal with that.


nick s 08.29.07 at 6:55 pm

It’s the Kristols and Adelmans and Ledeens who deserve to be spat upon and worse when they walk the streets of DC. They’ve never had the courage even to stand for election and put their opinions to the public vote, let alone serve in the armed forces.

They are filth, and in a less-crooked world, they’d be treated as filth for the rest of their lives.


Dan Simon 08.29.07 at 8:38 pm

Actually, Ledeen’s son has served as a Marine in Iraq. But whatever–iceberg, Goldberg, it’s all the same…


barrisj 08.30.07 at 12:20 am

“…our foreign policy obligations…”. Well, yes, you gormless git, that’s the rub, innit. Krisol, Kagan(s), all the pro-war “national interests” crowd
implicitly or explicitly have always framed the “interests” debate in purely military terms, and all the high-tech airpower weaponry at the US’s disposal
also requires a “boots-on-the-ground” component SOMEWHERE in the greater scheme of things. So, he can sit there with his dreadful smirking rictus, talking about how “tough it is” on military families, but for fook’s sake, who else will be called upon to discharge “…our foreign policy obligations”? Him? Romney’s five sons? Shite-spouting moron.


abb1 08.30.07 at 7:05 am

Glenn Greenwald writes about these warmongering militarists and their next target.


Barry 08.30.07 at 5:54 pm

“Actually, Ledeen’s son has served as a Marine in Iraq. But whatever—iceberg, Goldberg, it’s all the same…”

Posted by Dan Simon

F*ck Ledeen’s son. Considering that Ledeen is one of the hardest-core of the AEI/Likkudnik warmongers, he should be sent to Iraq for the duration – and not in any US base, but among the Iraqi people. If the flowers and rice get to him, we’ll air-drop some Benadryl.


Peter Vince 08.30.07 at 9:06 pm

I believe that Kristol coined the timeless phrase, “A neoconservative is a liberal mugged by reality.”
This should be recoined as “a lame f*k is a neoconservative mugged by reality.”


Dan Simon 08.30.07 at 9:42 pm

Actually, Ledeen can’t possibly be “one of the hardest-core of the…warmongers”–he’s on the record as opposing US military action against Iran, for example.

Then again, he’s a Likkudnik…and we all know what that means. (You know, like “the Kristols and Adelmans”.)

As I said–iceberg, Goldberg, it’s all the same…


Uncle Kvetch 08.30.07 at 10:59 pm

he’s on the record as opposing US military action against Iran, for example.

“No one I know wants to wage war on Iran and Syria, but I believe there is now a clear recognition that we must defend ourselves against them,” Ledeen wrote May 6 in the Toronto Globe and Mail.


Go ahead, Dan, call me a Jew-hater. I frankly don’t give a shit.


Dan Simon 08.30.07 at 11:44 pm

Fair enough–I wasn’t sufficiently clear. Ledeen supports small-scale retaliation against Iranian military units and bases directly engaged in operations against US troops in Iraq. But he doesn’t support strategic military action, such as bombing Iranian nuclear facilities, let alone full-scale invasion–as some of the “hardest-core…warmongers” do. Instead, he favors political and economic support for opposition movements within Iran.

And don’t worry–I can easily distinguish between, say, arguing fair-mindedly about the details of a particular commentator’s positions and, say, using irrelevant ethnic-related codewords like “Likkudnik”, or alluding to powerful, undemocratic behind-the-scenes players like “the Kristols and Adelmans and Ledeens”.


will 08.31.07 at 12:11 am

There’s nothing wrong with “Likudnik” when it’s used to identify actual Revisionist Zionists. (I don’t know anything about Ledeen, so whether he is one I cannot say.)


Dan Simon 08.31.07 at 12:33 am

…And there’s nothing wrong with using the word “Jewish” to identify actual Jews. Does that mean it would have been fine for Barry to refer to Ledeen as “one of the hardest-core of the AEI/Jewish warmongers”?

Ledeen is, as far as I know, a member of the US Republican party and an American citizen, and neither an Israeli citizen nor a member of any Israeli political party. His son is in the United States Marines, not the Israeli army. Imputing an Israeli political affiliation to him is just a slimy way to cast aspersions about his national loyalties based on his religion and ethnicity, without actually coming right out and saying, “Jewish”.

And if you want to prove me wrong, all you have to do is find a bunch of prominent references to Jerry Falwell or some other pro-Israel (heck, even pro-Likud) non-Jewish American as “Likudnik”.


SG 08.31.07 at 3:31 am

Dan Simon, I googled jerry falwell likudnik and got these two articles within a few seconds:

washington post, march 27 2004:

Eckstein, whose organization conducted the informal survey of evangelicals, said most people who contribute to the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews do so for religious reasons but also want to show their political solidarity with Israel. They oppose any withdrawal of Jewish settlers and “are very distrustful of Palestinians, of [Yasser] Arafat. They would make good Likudniks,” he said.

which suggests conservative jews (may I call Eckstein a Jew?) don’t have a problem with identifying non-Jewish Americans as Likudniks.

From antiwar.org:

A move is afoot in Congress to pass a bill co-authored by Senators Diane Feinstein (D-California) and Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) to deny visas to PA officials, close down the Palestinian office in Washington, and have the PLO declared a terrorist organization on the same level with Al Qaeda. At this rally of Capitol Hill Likudniks

I don’t think Mitch McConnell is Jewish, do you?


Dan Simon 08.31.07 at 5:51 am

They would make good Likudniks,” he said.

Actually, this example illustrates my point beautifully. Michael Ledeen, William Kristol and Richard Perle are Americans who have ideas about Israel that are probably very similar to those of the evangelicals cited in the article. They are often labeled as “Likudniks” (despite being American non-Israelis with no Israeli political affiliation). But nobody would ever say about them that they “would make good Likudniks”–sort of the way nobody ever says of, say, Jeff Foxworthy or Larry the Cable Guy that they “would make good rednecks.”

One might, however, say just that about someone who’s in many ways extremely similar to a Likudnik or a redneck, but nevertheless isn’t one–by virtue, perhaps, of being of the wrong ethnicity…

At this rally of Capitol Hill Likudniks

Yes, this one reference mentions Mitch McConnell–in a paragraph about Joe Leiberman inviting Bibi Netanyahu to chat with McConnell and his bill’s co-sponsor, Dianne Feinstein. Notice, though, that this search result does not label Falwell a Likudnik. Like the vast majority of results under the search ‘Falwell Likudnik’, it explicitly labels other people–either unidentified people, or people of, ahem, a certain persuasion, but not Falwell–as “Likudniks”. And if you try the same exercise with searches such as ‘Cheney Likudnik’ and ‘Rumsfeld Likudnik’, you’ll see that they, too, are almost always explicitly excluded from the list of “Likudniks”.

I wonder why?


nick s 08.31.07 at 6:05 am

alluding to powerful, undemocratic behind-the-scenes players like “the Kristols and Adelmans and Ledeens”.

Uh, right. I wasn’t alluding: let’s use Bill Kristol and his dad, Cakewalk Ken, Frank Gaffney, Michael Ledeen and Clifford May as our sample.

Are you somehow disputing that they have a heavy influence on both policy and the ongoing debate about policy? Are you disputing that none of them has ever had his positions directly endorsed by the popular vote? Or are you trying to insinuate anti-semitism without looking like Marty Peretz?

If so, what uncle kvetch said: go the whole way and call me a Jew-hater. I don’t give a shit.

The most hawkish Republican member of Congress in the most gerrymandered red-state district has, at very least, the mandate of his or her district. It makes me nauseous to say it, but even Tom ‘Nuke Mecca’ Tancredo has more political legitimacy than Bill fucking Kristol.

Imputing an Israeli political affiliation to him is just a slimy way to cast aspersions about his national loyalties

Indeed. Ledeen’s loyalties are much more identifiable with the Italian fascists he so relishes, whether he cares to admit it or not.


abb1 08.31.07 at 6:21 am

Far as I’m concerned, only an Islamofascist could call a good American patriot ‘Likudnik’ – heck, even if he’s actually pro-Likud.


SG 08.31.07 at 3:09 pm

dan simon that is a stupid misreading of the article. It specifically calls Mitch McConnell a Capitol Hill Likudnik. That was your challenge, but now you’ve changed it so that it explicitly excludes Mitch McConnell? You have a problem there.


Dan Simon 08.31.07 at 3:20 pm

Are you somehow disputing that they have a heavy influence on both policy and the ongoing debate about policy?

You mean by, say, publishing their opinions? The Kristols have both been magazine editors, and the son was briefly an advisor to Dan Quayle, of all people. Ledeen is a journalist and academic who is said to have been an off-and-on consultant to various Republicans over the years. May and Gaffney (at last, some non-“Likudniks”!) run think-tanks that churn out reams of breathless statements. Only Kenneth Adelman, of all the people you mention, can be said to have had any significant power, beyond the writer’s power to influence people with well-reasoned, well-written arguments. That’s the same power that, say, we have as bloggers and blog commenters.

Unless, of course, you consider the insidious behind-the-scenes influence notoriously wielded by a large, sinister cabal of J-er, “Likudniks”…


Uncle Kvetch 08.31.07 at 3:53 pm

Unless, of course, you consider the insidious behind-the-scenes influence notoriously wielded by a large, sinister cabal of J-er, “Likudniks”…

I don’t expect this comment to survive deletion, but what the hell:

Dan, shut the fuck up.


nick s 08.31.07 at 4:38 pm

That’s the same power that, say, we have as bloggers and blog commenters.

Now you are just taking the piss.


abb1 08.31.07 at 5:06 pm

Stop the squabbling, people. Unite and concentrate on defeating the world-wide insidious behind-the-scenes influence notoriously wielded by a large, sinister cabal of Iranian Mullahs, as revealed in well-reasoned, well-written articles by Messrs Kristol, Ledeen and other American patriots.


Dan Simon 08.31.07 at 5:34 pm

It specifically calls Mitch McConnell a Capitol Hill Likudnik.

No it doesn’t. It describes a “rally of Capitol Hill Likudniks”, without specifically mentioning anyone there apart from Bibi Netanyahu and Joe Leiberman. In the same paragraph, a proposed bill is mentioned that is being co-sponsored by Feinstein and McConnell. If that’s the best you can do…

That was your challenge, but now you’ve changed it so that it explicitly excludes Mitch McConnell?

Actually, my challenge was to find “a bunch of prominent references” to non-Jewish American “Likudniks”. There might be one or two obscure references out there, but in the vast majority of highly visible cases, an American who is identified as a “Likudnik” turns out to be someone who is completely unaffiliated with the Likud party, but who does happen to be Jewish. I’m frankly surprised that anyone’s disputing this.


bi 08.31.07 at 5:48 pm

As we all know, just about everyone who’s completely unaffiliated with Al Qaeda is… a terrorist!


abb1 08.31.07 at 8:26 pm

You see, people don’t just turn into a Scotsman for no reason at all.


goatchowder 09.02.07 at 9:45 pm

This is silly.

Kristol, Perle, Ledeen, Lieberman, Lantos, and quite a few other prominent lunatic Neocons are Jewish.

I’m pretty sure that Jon Stewart, Glenn Greenwald, Robert Greenwald, Barbara Boxer, Eli Pariser, George Soros, Greg Palast, and many other prominent voices of reason opposing “preemptive war” in Iraq, Iran, and elsewhere, are also Jewish.

What difference does it make?


Thanatos 09.02.07 at 11:14 pm

ABB1 couldn’t be more right!

War is really the only mechanism Gaia has left for controlling the human population. Your mortality and your inability to get along with each other combine to limit the acceleration of your otherwise infinite growth.

Predators won’t do it because you exterminate them. Disease won’t do it because your medical technology is too clever. Starvation won’t do it because you engineer efficient food systems. Resource depletion may not even do it because you’re working on alternative energy sources. But one thing can always be counted on for sure – you’ll find things to fight about.

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