Bill Kristol's Twilight Zone

When Trump derangement syndrome makes you abandon every principle you've ever had.

“There’s only so long you can be a future former Republican. At some point, you have to decide, are you a former Republican, or are you still? I guess I’m more on the former side. Even the mainstream Republicans are not willing to repudiate Trump and Trumpism.”

That was former Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol in a September 13 interview with Gabby Deutch of the Jewish Insider. Kristol is now editor-large at The Bulwark, a news network “dedicated to providing political analysis and reporting free from the constraints of partisan loyalties or tribal prejudices.” Deutch asked Kristol about his endorsement of Virginia Democrat Terry McCauliffe, the Clinton loyalist who in 2016 acted unilaterally to restore the voting rights of 206,000 convicted violent and nonviolent felons.

“I have no big objections,” Kristol said, “to the McAuliffe Democrats running Northern Virginia and to McAuliffe himself, who I think is a serious guy and was a good governor.” On the other hand, Republican Glenn Youngkin, “fundamentally is unwilling to break with Trump and Trumpism.” Deutch wondered if Kristol would back any Republicans who support Trump.

“I think there are particular policies of Trump people were totally entitled to praise,” Kristol said, “and that I myself might agree with, whether it’s deregulatory efforts or maybe the push for the vaccine.” Even so, “people who want to continue to say that it would have been right to reelect Donald Trump, and that it’s fine to accommodate Trump and Trumpism going forward — I find that very difficult to support.”

On the other hand, with Joe Biden, “there are other issues where I agree with things this administration’s done, distinct things Biden has done or Biden’s proposed. For me, the policies are individual, and you can support them.”

So Kristol “might” agree with Trump on deregulation and the vaccine. No word if he agrees with the Trump tax cuts, criminal justice reform, the Abraham peace accords, and taking out terrorists al-Baghdadi and Soleimai.  By contrast, Kristol can definitely “agree” with what Biden has done and proposed, but no word about Biden’s tax hikes, inflationary policies, pandemic coercion, and so forth.

“I’ve been critical of Biden for the withdrawal from Afghanistan,” Kristol claims, with no detail on the debacle. This from a guy who logs nearly 2800 words in the interview, after editing for brevity.

“Looking within the Democratic Party,” Deutch said, “there are members elected in the past few years like Rep. Ilhan Omar who are not just critical of Israel, but opposed to the State of Israel. What do you make of their influence within the party? And how does that affect your views on the party as you move closer to it?”

“It’s very important for Israel to have support in both parties,” Kristol said, “the Republican Party is quite pro-Israel. It’s pro-Israel in some slightly wacky ways occasionally, but whatever, it’s okay.” For Kristol, “the Squad is a lot less in the center of the Democratic Party than those Republicans are in the Republican Party.” Democrats don’t ask Ilhan Omar to campaign with them, Kristol observed, but Republicans are “very happy to show up with Marjorie Taylor Greene or Paul Gosar or someone like that,” and “at the end of the day, we need to fight both.”

For The Bulwark editor, the legacy of Bibi Netanyahu is “I think mostly positive” but there’s more to it. “We have an interest in the Biden administration being pro-Israel and the Israeli government succeeding and the administration succeeding in the U.S.,” Kristol said. “We want a strong U.S. and a strong Israel. So maybe we could do our best to push for sound policies in both countries, and not pretend that it’s the end of the world if we have Joe Biden as president of the United States and Bennett as prime minister of Israel.”

As Kristol explained, “people are so invested at this point in a certain analysis of things and a certain apocalyptic view of everything, and it’s hard to know who came back to reality” So the interview closed on an appropriate note.

“A neoconservative is a liberal who’s been mugged by reality,” observed the late Irving Kristol, Bill’s father. “A neoliberal is a liberal who’s been mugged by reality but has refused to press charges.” In Bill’s case, the mugger is Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) followed by full surrender.

In Afghanistan, President Trump negotiated a conditional deal that would have extracted American civilians first and the military last. Trump Derangement Syndrome bars Biden from completing anything Trump started, so the Delaware Democrat extracted the military first, left many Americans stranded, and gifted the Taliban with billions in American military gear.

Biden also partnered with the Taliban for security, an unforgivable lapse that facilitated the terrorist bomb that claimed 13 American lives. In the aftermath, Biden talked about his son Beau and looked at his watch during the memorial.

No performance review of Biden from The Bulwark editor, supposedly free of partisan prejudice. If Joe Biden ever did anything with which Bill Kristol disagreed it does not emerge in the interview.

The addled Biden is often unaware of the current day and his own location. Bill Kristol has no such excuse, but as Saul Bellow said, “A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep.” Like leftist Democrats, Kristol lives under the Dictatorship of the Subjunctive Mood (DSM), a permanent disconnect from reality.

On 9/11, an attack that claimed nearly 3,000 lives, Ilhan Omar quips that “some people did something.” For Kristol, the squad of ultra-left Democrats is basically equivalent to some Republicans, “and we need to fight both.”  Whatever candidates or policies Republicans advance, support for “Trump and Trumpism” is the only thing that matters to Bill Kristol.

Gabby Deutch failed to ask Kristol if he would support Biden’s bid for reelection in 2024. We’ll have to see what happens, as Trump likes to say, but it is possible to guess.

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