Why the hell is he with her?
William Kristol’s cheerleading for an Oprah Winfrey presidential run is arguably the most disturbing non-Trump development of the new year. Notwithstanding my skepticism about celebrity involvement in politics, if Winfrey is actually serious about running, she should disavow the Kristol vision in the strongest terms possible.
It’s fairly obvious that Kristol wants to hitch his star to Winfrey in the hopes that, if Winfrey runs as a Democrat and defeats Donald Trump in 2020, her popularity can be leveraged into support for Iraq-style military misadventure. Kristol’s mouth salivates at the prospect of being a behind-the-scenes foreign-policy consigliere to Winfrey, luring her towards another needless war with the imprimatur of the Democratic Party. Kristol knows that Donald Trump has effectively crippled the Republican Party as a vehicle to bring about American empire. He clearly wants the Democratic Party to start doing his bidding—and he sees Winfrey as the vehicle to do it.
Those who fetishize war always need a popular figure to market that war. How much of the American public’s support for the Iraq War fifteen years ago was generated by Colin Powell’s BS on WMD in front of the UN? George W. Bush and his minions needed Powell’s credibility to market that war; after Powell sold his soul to do so, he realized that he wouldn’t even get a receipt.
Kristol once thought Sarah Palin would be popular enough to market military madness. In Winfrey, he clearly sees a Palin with credibility, a vessel into which the vision of the Project for the New American Century can be poured.
We know that Kristol is thinking. Yes, Winfrey was skeptical of the Iraq War fifteen years ago. However, Kristol figures that if Winfrey becomes President, she’ll quickly find herself under pressure to demonstrate her “resolve” when it comes to “standing strong” against “Islamofascism.” The right-wing press—and, inevitably, the mainstream press—will publish article after article questioning President Winfrey’s courage in the face of the “gathering storm” of “foreign extremism.” In other words, Winfrey will be under pressure to flex the muscles of the military-industrial complex.
And when that pressure builds, Kristol wants to be in Winfrey’s ear telling her how to relieve it.
It’s sick, but is Kristol not sick? How many Americans and Iraqis lost their lives because of the war Kristol pimped? How many soldiers came back home with bodies and minds ruined because of him?
If Winfrey seriously wants to be president, she must flee from Kristol’s iniquity. She must deliver a speech denouncing the Kristol philosophy of permanent conflict, declaring that a war fetishist who’s anti-Trump is still a war fetishist. She must denounce Kristol and the war-friendly element of our politics in the strongest, harshest terms possible—at least as strongly and harshly as she denounced those who prey upon our sisters, mothers and daughters last Sunday. She needs to tell Kristol to get lost.
32 years ago, in his song “Lives in the Balance,” Jackson Browne observed:
There’s a shadow on the faces
Of the men who fan the flames
Of the wars that are fought in places
Where we can’t even say the names
They sell us the President the same way
They sell us our clothes and our cars
They sell us everything from youth to religion
The same time they sell us our wars
I want to know who the men in the shadows are
I want to hear somebody asking them why
They can be counted on to tell us who our enemies are
But they’re never the ones to fight or to die…
Browne was talking about people like Kristol. Heck, even if she doesn’t run for the White House, Winfrey should denounce the editor-at-large of the Weekly Standard, a man whose standards for honorable behavior have been rather low.