In a Venn diagram of NeverTrump conservatives and anti-Trump liberals, a photo of Bill Kristol would appropriately fill the growing intersection of the two. Like many NeverTrumpers, Kristol has abandoned any attempt to promote conservative ideals and policies and instead is focused merely on destroying Donald Trump’s presidency. While the NeverTrumpers’ daily whipping of the president ranges from ax-grinding to click-baiting to ego-boosting from a roster of conservative benchwarmers who’ve been eating their collective lunch since November 8, Kristol occupies a special place above the most bitter figures in the NeverTrump pantheon.
He nearly cried about Trump on “Morning Joe” a few weeks before the election (he also said Trump would not win.) He has called for a “Deep State” subversion and “disposing” of the president. His Twitter timeline shows a disturbing obsession with Donald Trump; Kristol tags Trump in his tweets as if he’s yearning for his attention. With nothing meaningful to contribute to the public discourse, Kristol manically tweets out incendiary vituperations designed to get retweets and likes from Trump/GOP haters. It would be amusing if it wasn’t so truly alarming. And the conservative media (with the exception of my two articles in The Federalist here and here) have completely ignored how crazy—even dangerous—this once-influential conservative thought leader has become.
Just when you thought Kristol’s Trump Derangement Syndrome couldn’t get any worse, he went code blue over the weekend, culminating Tuesday night with an outrageously dishonest accusation against Fox News host Tucker Carlson. The past four days have been, in fact, a embarrassing display by many anti-Trump conservatives who played directly into the hands of the Left, using their terms and parameters (I’m old enough to remember when conservatives did not believe the actions of a few implicated an entire group. Some NeverTrumpers conflated the white supremacists in Charlottesville with Trump supporters, a smear the Left and the media have been propagating for at least two years.) Like unimaginative lemmings, they followed each other in demanding Trump disavow neo-nazis as they demanded he disavow his remarks about the New York Times, the Khan family, Mexican rapists, and so forth.
But Kristol is the winner of the NeverTrump shamefest by a mile. Even though Kristol’s own first instinct was to refer to the marchers as “creeps”—not as neo-nazis or white supremacists, mind you—hypocrisy was no impediment to his eagerness to pile on Trump for this “transgression” by early Saturday afternoon. By midday, as the violence was unfolding and the media was already trying somehow to blame Trump for it, Kristol started subtweeting the president, mocking his response: “What @POTUS should say: To racists and anti-Semites who claim to support me, know this: I denounce your bigotry and reject your support.” (It was retweeted 20,000 times.)
His subsequent tweets over the weekend were increasingly unhinged. He blasted a White House adviser who had been interviewed on CNN for only condemning the “20-year old driver, but not those who persuaded and recruited him and who gave him an occasion to act on his sick beliefs.” (His parents?) On Sunday morning, while most of America still didn’t know exactly what happened in Charlottesville, Kristol tweeted “I’ve got to say, I’m sick of the imploring & pleading with Donald Trump to say the right thing. He said what he meant & meant what he said.” In a pot-calling-the-kettle-black moment, Kristol claimed Trump “is doing more damage to American conservatism & the Republican Party than the left or Democrats ever did.” This from the man who pushed for the war in Iraq, which led to the GOP’s losing control of Congress in 2006 and the ascendancy of Barack Obama.
By Wednesday morning, he was imploring a military coup led by John Kelly, H.R. McMaster, and James Mattis, citing a British politician who helped take down Neville Chamberlain’s government in 1940 with this Cromwell quote: “You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”
But it was his false charge against Tucker Carlson on Tuesday night that dashes any hope of Kristol regaining his sanity—or integrity. Kristol accused Carlson of “rationalizing slavery” following the host’s lengthy monologue about removing Confederate statues. He posed the same question that the president and many Americans are asking: where is the line between which monuments should be removed and which ones should remain? And if slave-owning is the test, many otherwise honorable men will fail.
To make his point, Carlson mentioned a lengthy list of men who owned slaves, including numerous signers of the Declaration of Independence, Christopher Columbus, Plato, and Mohammed. He stated that many Native Americans also owned slaves and brought them on the Trail of Tears. His conclusion was clear: “If we are going to reduce a person’s life to the single worst thing he ever participated in, we had better be prepared for the consequences of that.”
But in Kristol’s mixed-up mind, those historical facts amounted to an endorsement of slavery. In a tweet that earned nearly 30,000 likes, Kristol tweeted a photo of Carlson’s show and said, “They started by rationalizing Trump. They ended by rationalizing slavery.”
They started by rationalizing Trump. They ended by rationalizing slavery. https://t.co/1BYhLF9YQY
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) August 16, 2017
Carlson did nothing of the sort. Kristol flat-out lied. What Tucker actually said was, “now, to be clear, as if it’s necessary, slavery is evil. If you believe in the rights of the individual, it’s actually hard to think of anything worse than slavery.” He also said that, despite the fact that slavery was the “rule around the world” until 150 years ago, “none of this is a defense of the atrocity of human bondage. And it is an atrocity.”
How is this “rationalizing slavery”? Kristol ripped a page from Joe Biden’s playbook, where the former vice president told a group of African-Americans in 2012 that Republicans want to “put y’all back in chains.” It is a vile, disgusting attempt to portray Tucker Carlson and other Trump supporters as a group of plantation owners pining for the good old days when blacks had to call us “massa.”
Kristol has gone from a clown to a menace. He’s not just mocking and taunting the president, he is race-baiting in its lowest form, helping the America-hating Left condemn Trump voters and all Republicans in general as white supremacists who want back the days of Jim Crow. The anti-Trumpers who have now joined the speech and thought police on the Left should speak up to this, and challenge Kristol to stop.
Or, just as they reminded us all weekend about Trump’s initial response to Charlottesville, their silence will be interpreted as complicity.