Kristol clear

KRISTOL CLEAR…. In the first sentence of his latest NYT column, Bill Kristol reports on the “anguished cries” he’s heard in Denver from Hillary Clinton supporters who are outraged about Joe Biden joining the Democratic ticket. In the second sentence, he concedes that he hasn’t actually heard any “anguished cries” at all, but he “felt” as if he could “hear” them.

Yes, Bill Kristol is apparently doing his best Stephen Colbert impression, sans the wit, charm, and satire.

The point of the piece, though, is Kristol’s case for John McCain adding Joe Lieberman to the Republican ticket.

[Lieberman] is pro-abortion rights, and having been a Democrat all his life, he has a moderately liberal voting record on lots of issues. Now as a matter of governance, there’s no reason to think this would much matter. McCain has made clear his will be a pro-life administration. And as a one-off, quasi-national-unity ticket, with Lieberman renouncing any further ambition to run for the presidency, a McCain-Lieberman administration wouldn’t threaten the continuance of the G.O.P. as a pro-life party. In other areas, no one seriously thinks the policies of a McCain-Lieberman administration would be appreciably different from those, say, of a McCain-Pawlenty administration. […]

Obama and Biden will try to frame the presidential race as a normal Democratic-Republican choice. If they can do that, they should win. That would be far more difficult against a McCain-Lieberman ticket. The charge that McCain would merely mean a third Bush term would also tend to fall flat.

There’s something oddly disjointed about the argument. A McCain/Lieberman ticket would be just as conservative as any McCain/Generic Republican ticket, Kristol argues. But in the next breath, he also insists that a McCain/Lieberman ticket would represent a different kind of ticket, which would break with Bush, and become a “quasi-national-unity” pairing.

Except, there’s a contradiction here. Either the ticket would be more of the same, or it would be a striking break with the past. It can’t, however, be both.

On second thought, maybe “contradiction” is the wrong word. Reading between the lines, Kristol seems to believe a McCain/Lieberman ticket would be as conservative as any traditional Republican pairing, but voters might be fooled into thinking otherwise. That, at its core, is Kristol’s message to the McCain campaign: pick Lieberman, run to the right, and con the public into thinking the ticket is something unique and different.

How painfully cynical, and yet, strangely predictable, given the source.

Post Script: I should add, by the way, that this makes one column in a row in which Kristol did not publish any obvious factual errors that required printed corrections. Keep up the sterling work, Bill.