News & Criticism

Kristol Provokes Gales of Outrage; Shafer Defends

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Jack Shafer, Slate's house libertarian, denounces those denouncing the New York Times hiring of neoconservative Tsar Bill Kristol. Regardless of one's opinion of Kristol's politics (and I, like Shafer, would prefer someone like Steve Chapman [whose reason columns are archived here] as the paper's second "dissident" voice), Shafer makes a pretty convincing case that, while Kristol might bomb as a columnist, it will surely be an interesting ride:

In a campaign year like this one, Kristol will capitalize on the Times imprimatur to expand his source list to include Democrats of all strips. He'll traffic in political intelligence, some of it as reliable as the CIA's WMD-Iraq findings, so caveat emptor . He'll start political feuds. He'll attack his friends and reward his enemies if it suits him. He'll stir the animals up, which was H.L. Mencken's goal. I can't promise that he'll be good, but he'll be different, he'll be interesting, and I guarantee he'll never be as bad as Roger Cohen.

Full column here. And don't miss Shafer's February 2003 reason review of Terry Teachout's The Skeptic: A Life of H.L. Mencken.

More reason commentary on Kristol here.