14 April 2008

What's eating Bill Kristol?

Don't lose hope, my young friends. Every American boy can grow up to be President, or an op-ed columnist for the New York Times. If the current shape of either of these institutions is any indication, this maxim is more true than ever. For example, let's try a Shorter William Kristol, from Monday's edition.

  • Obama's claim that the economically disenfranchised turn to religion and guns for relief sounds vaguely like something Karl Marx would have said. OOOGA BOOGA Americans! Did you hear me? Karl Marx!
That's it, Billy? Sadly, it appears so.

Obama's thoughts that touched off this latest round of pundit wankery are not new to people who follow the American political scene. Thomas Frank said something similar in What's the Matter with Kansas, which was discussed quite widely in the mainstream press. Obama may have worded it poorly, but a similar principle underlies his remarks.

But the political/media establishment has jutted forth its beak and declared Obama an elitist for supposedly calling hard-workin' salt-of-the-earth "Muricans insincere. Oh, curious peasants! They go to church and eat apple pie and care not for lost wages and insecure financial futures. What ruling class could invent such good and faithful servants as those which exist in the heads of our own political class! Why, I'll bet they'd actually support neoliberal economics anyway! As indeed some doubtless do; feudalism produces a vocal minority of viceroys to rule the serfs, after all.

It's true that Obama may not be highly credible here; part of the awkwardness in his handling the manufactured controversy comes from the knowledge that he will only be a mild reformer at best. But what's especially delicious, and proof of the meaningless train of fate of American politics, is that Hillary Clinton has been milking this "gaffe" for all it's worth. That's Hillary Clinton, whose husband's administration played no small part in creating the paradigm Democrats are currently trying to escape.

Let's finish with Billy Kristol wrapping things up in a bow.
What does this mean for Obama’s presidential prospects? He’s disdainful of small-town America — one might say, of bourgeois America.

You wonder why Billy isn't teaching those Marx classes anymore.