Jon Stewart Chews Up, Spits Out William Kristol

Stewart Destroys Kristol (video link)

I’ve come to believe that the reason The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart has William Kristol on so frequently is very specific. Oh, no doubt there’s more than one reason. I’m sure that part of it is that Stewart – despite having recently won TIME magazine’s “most trusted figure in news” poll in the wake of Walter Cronkite’s death, and despite his frequent protestations that, as a “fake news” show he and his team are under no obligation to either tell the truth or cover any given story in any particular way (Stewart will insist that his only obligation is to be funny), I think Stewart recognizes that since he’s perceived as a lefty, his credibility declines if he never has on any leading lights of the right-wing. It wouldn’t surprise me to hear that Stewart thinks Kristol makes a decent interview, either: he’s certainly smart enough to keep up an engaging banter with Stewart.

But there are plenty of people who could fulfill the role of reasonably engaging right-wing guest. And, to be fair, Stewart has had on people like Newt Gingrich and Stephen Hayes. And yet, he keeps returning to Kristol, far more often than any other leading conservative. Why? Well, after last night’s Daily Show, I think I might know. First, Kristol is literally one of the recognized “thought leaders” of the right, currently – and has been for some time. It was Kristol who was primarily responsible for providing the necessary intellectual and rhetorical ammunition to scuttle Hillary Clinton’s health care reform effort during her husband’s first term, and it is Kristol who once again, just days ago, urged his conservative colleagues in the House and Senate to “go for the kill” regarding Obama’s health care efforts, as well. Kristol was one of the chief neocons advocating for the “American Empire” view of the new geopolitical landscape after the fall of the Soviet Union left the USA the sole superpower on the globe. I think Stewart has Kristol on because it allows him a chance to directly confront (or at least interview) one of the main fonts of ideas of today’s right wing in America. But even that is not the ultimate reason, though without Kristol’s central role in the conservative intelligentsia, Stewart wouldn’t be as interested.

Nope, I think the real reason Jon Stewart has Bill Kristol on so often is because he figured out very early on – probably in their first meeting/interview – that Kristol, with his aristocratic bearing, ivy league pedigree and family connections – only seems brilliant, but in reality, Stewart is MUCH smarter, and – critically – can think much faster on his feet than Kristol can. Not to mention be funny at the same time. It’s been said that Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, only backwards and in high heels, and I think you could say in a similar fashion that if Kristol is a brilliant conservative thinker, that Stewart can do everything Kristol does, faster, better, and while being simultaneously funny to boot. I’m pretty sure Stewart knows this full well, which is why he’s always happy to have Kristol on: because each time gives him yet another opportunity to go directly to the source of so-called “conservative wisdom,” and cast a harsh – but hilarious – light on the intellectual and moral bankruptcy at its core. Here’s a partial transcript of the above video link (via):

Jon: So you don’t believe in a public option, so even though that’s good enough for the military it’s not good enough for the people of America?

Kristol: Well, the military has a different health care system then the rest of Americans-

Jon: It’s a public system no?

Kristol: Yeah, they don’t have an option, they’re all in military health care.

Jon: Well, why don’t we go with that then?

Kristol: I don’t know. Is military health care really what you want…well, first of all it’s expensive- I think they deserve it, the military, I’m not sure-

Jon: But the American Public do not?

(slight laughter in the audience)

Kristol: No, the American public do not deserve the same quality health care as soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan deserve, and they need all kinds of things that the rest of us don’t need.

Jon: Well, no, they can have the level of care, but are you saying that the public shouldn’t have access to the same quality of health care that we give to our better citizens?

Kristol: Yes. To our soldiers? Absolutely.

(Booing in the audience)

Kristol: The American public-

Jon: (incredulous) Really?

Kristol: I think, one thing, if you become a soldier…


They get paid less. They get paid less, so one of the ways we make it up to the soldiers is we, since they’re risking their lives, is give them first class health care. The rest of us can go out and buy insurance- as 90 percent of us have…

Jon: You just said, Bill Kristol just said-

Kristol: I feel like you’ve trapped me somehow.

Jon: You just said that the government can run a first class health care system. And that a government run health care system is better (audience applause) than the private health care system.

Ouch. That’s what ya call getting pwned, Billy-Bob. You just stated, on national TV, that military (i.e. – government run and financed) health care is (and should be, according to you) better than what civilians get in the supposedly-wonderful, magical “free” market. Stewart merely exposed your craven, say-anything-to-win hypocrisy. And good for him.

6 thoughts on “Jon Stewart Chews Up, Spits Out William Kristol

  1. Hey…remember me – Sopal1953? I just discovered your blog and thought I’d let you know I’m reading. I agree about Stewart catching Kristol admitting a truth about government-run healthcare. I watched the program last night and had a little chuckle as Kristol seemed unable to un-say what he admitted to. I think that Obama has a major challenge convincing the country to support his version of UHC. It almost makes me wonder if, considering the resistance he’s getting from his own party, Obama shouldn’t have asked for a single-payer system and compromised by accepting a bill similar to the House bill with a “robust” public option. I think Obama sets his sights too low and then compromises down from there. He should consider setting his sights higher and then compromising down to what could be considered a fairly progressive program. Oh well…I’m not president, so I don’t get a say in how he negotiates with Congress. I hope by now he has learned that the Blue Dogs aren’t all that interested in working with him and the Republicans just say “no.” Otherwise, we’re going to be disappointed time and time again with what he’s able to eke out. It is almost embarrassing how poorly the Democrats in Congress have performed over the last six months. They could be so effective by working together as a block, but the leadership is weak in maintaining party discipline. Say what you will about the Republicans, at least they were on the same page and maintained party discipline.

    Congrats on your new blog.

    1. Hey, Sopal! Nice to see you! How in the world did you find me? Everything OK on your end of things?

      As far as the strategy of pushing for single-payer from the beginning, I agree, that was by FAR the biggest tactical blunder made by Obama and the Democrats in the early stages of the current push to reform health care. And it may, after the dust settles, turn out to have been the one fatal move that consigned this effort to the pile of other past failed attempts, which would suck in a MAJOR way.

      I know you’re well aware that the idea of a “public option” which would compete with the private insurers is the only positive legacy of John Edwards’ Presidential run. He was the first to propose it. And, in truth, it was absolutely brilliant, given the current political landscape: Republicans opposed to any reform at all, a lazy and credulous media which is used to being manipulated by the GOP, and a public that’s hurting, but cynical about the prospects for honesty and good laws from their politicians. All in all, not a great environment for radical change. Single-payer, while better-known than it was fifteen years ago when I worked on Prop. 186 in California, is still an unknown, poorly-understood and therefore (to many) scary thing to contemplate. Edwards knew that a so-called “public option” (essentially single-payer, but in “stealth” mode, competing against the private insurers) would very quickly supplant most private insurance because it would not have the profit motive of private insurers and thus would be able to offer as-good (or better) care that could never be taken away…for less money. Americans may not like to delve into the deeps of health care policy, but they sure know a bargain when they see one.

      Unfortunately, the problem is a classic one common to negotiations: if you go into what you know is likely to be a contentious and complicated negotiation process asking for only what you really want – or (worse) what you feel you cannot live without, then you have no room to maneuver in the discussions; nothing which you can make an elaborate show of “giving up” and still wind up getting that which you really wanted in the first place. Obama and Baucus and frankly, Democrats in general, have been in a defensive crouch for so long (strangely, it got really bad around the time Kristol & Co. killed Hillary’s health care proposals in 1993) that they’re used to trying to preemptively stave off what they assume will be the inevitable and devastating Republican attack ads by showing the public and the press that they’re no communists! They’re not gonna be “soft on crime” or “big spenders” or what have you. So we had the specter of a Democratic President adding 100,000 police officers and enacting draconian welfare “reform” (read: cuts).

      And, unfortunately, in this case, we have a Senate Democratic leadership and a Democratic President who are therefore almost instinctively likely to pre-emptively disavow anything which can be demagogued as “socialism.” Never mind that single-payer ISN’T socialism – or at least not socialized medicine – Baucus and Obama and Reid are so afraid of the big stick they’re certain the Republicans will beat them with to great effect that they didn’t realize that a) this isn’t 1994; people are HURTING and therefore more willing to consider larger changes, b) the left wing now has a very effective media arm, too, blunting the juggernaut of right-wing hate radio by exposing their tactics – people are wise to their shtick, and c) the best defense is – and has always been – a good offense. You and I have hashed out this point endlessly at the Swillage, but it bears repeating: the worst damage done to Democrats over the past couple of decades, they did to themselves. By not standing up for the things they claimed to believe in, they validated the Republicans’ charges that they were “weak” in general. And it doesn’t take a genius to conclude that if a politician (or a whole party) won’t stand up for its principles when there’s something at risk, there’s no reason to vote for them.

      Stupid, stupid, stupid. Baucus and Obama should have welcomed the single-payer faction into the debates with open arms, even if they were CONVINCED that we wouldn’t get it this round. Heck, even if they weren’t really in FAVOR of it. Not just because it would have been the right thing to do – have as wide an array of serious plans as possible so the best ideas can come forward – but because it would have given them something to “give up” if it came to that, or even something to say was “too left”….so we could get the public option. Have you ever heard of the “Overton window?”

    2. Oh, and one other problem with the whole way the health care battle has been engaged?

      Rahm Emanuel. He ain’t the most progressive of Democrats, though he is arguably the most effectively combative, the most effective at what you praised the Republicans for – party discipline. In many ways, he’s the perfect pick for Obama to have made.

      But until Rahm accepted his current job, he was also the ideological counterweight to Howard Dean’s 50-state strategy. As top dog at the DCCC, he was instrumental in aggressively recruiting moderate Democrats to run against vulnerable Republican incumbents in districts that weren’t reliably progressive — exactly the sort of people who, once elected, turned out to be the same newly-minted Blue Dogs who are causing the administration such headaches now.

      Rahm doesn’t necessarily disagree all that much with these new (and old) Blue Dogs on the policy details of health care….but that’s no longer his call, either. His job is to get Obama’s will done. And Obama wants to pass the kind of bill that you and I want, in other words: a stronger bill than the Blue Dogs want. It will be interesting to see whether Emanuel’s famously powerful ability to whip his caucus can be effective at overcoming his own short-sighted choices to run “safe” conservative Democrats instead of helping Dean run more-progressive candidates who would not now be dithering over health care like the representatives Rahm himself essentially put into office.

      1. You’re easier to find in the blogosphere now that I have spare time. My company went out of business 11 weeks ago. Yep…I’ve been trying to find work for 11 weeks and have been fooling around on the internet. Anyhoo…I was wondering what other names you went by so I refreshed my memory at I-vil by searching “lars” and came up with larcenous and phenobarbarella.

        I saw larcenous and phenobarbarella so I googled “lars larcenous” and “lars phenobarbarella” and got this hit:

        There you were – Lars Olsson – phenobarbarella so I googled “lars olsson blog” and got your family blog which pointed me right to here.

        It is great that you have a political blog. I hope your like-minded friends come here to see what you’ve come up with.

        I’ve had my share of being banned at I-vil, and you know how “nice” I am when I post. Somehow, someway I get banned. My latest incarnation is “mombitsey” which sort of relates to my AOL screen name “mombitty.” I enjoy I-vil, but I must be getting old, because I seem to be unable to maintain myself well enough to remain for more than a month or two without being banned.

        BTW – Howard Dean is guest hosting Countdown right now and is replaying Stewart’s Kristol interview. Priceless.

        I don’t know if you’re posting at I-vil, but if you remember claddaugh49 (and various other names including purpleiris), well…she’s been making contact with me via AOL IM, and has been having a really rough time lately. Three weeks ago, she called me up to say she’d just been in an auto accident – hit a man on a motorcycle. Then she went home to find a postcard in her mail requesting that she go in to have a repeat mammogram. She panicked and was able to get an immediate appointment by the end of the week. Well the radiologist saw the suspicious thing and also did a sonogram. The radiologist called her primary care doctor who called a surgeon to have a biopsy done. Within the week she had her biopsy done. The doctor called, and she has invasive breast cancer. She’s already scheduled her lumpectomy for this Thursday. She’s now finding the uncertainties of her health insurance. Everything has to be pre-approved, and she’s getting panicky about if & how they’re going to pay the bills. Now, she all geared up for universal healthcare, because she thinks that if her husband loses his job, they’ll never be able to get health insurance again.

        Well…I’m glad I found your blog, and I’m looking forward to reading what you find interesting.

    3. Wow! I’m so sorry to hear that you’re out of work! Couldn’t come at a worse tim – though I suppose that’s sort of the point: it came because it’s a shitty economic time for everyone…including your company. Are you guys going to be OK? I hope so. How’s your son – deployed again? Or is he stateside for good?

      I have not been to iSwill in quite some time, though it’s been recently enough to know that you were “mombitsey.” You made it pretty clear with the same formatting and “chatting woman” avatar. ;o) I was “donna_da_dead” (and several variants) for a while, but in my case, it’s even worse: they simply ban me whenever they see me, no matter what I post. And they’ve also put a filter on my IP address, meaning that if I try to login using my own IP address, I am redirected to an empty white screen. The only way to do it is to use proxies to disguise my IP, and that takes too much time and effort to do on a regular basis.

      If you ask my opinion, I genuinely don’t think it’s your doing that you’ve been banned a few times. Everyone loses his or her temper occasionally, or says something inappropriate or simply stupid. But iSwill’s policy for some time has seemed to be a three strikes and you’re out…permanently. And that’s (as in real life) three strikes over your entire “lifetime.” That means that no matter how long a record of respectful, even helpful, posts you’ve made, once you accumulate that “third strike,” you’re gone forever, along with name recognition, friend lists, etc. I frankly think it’s completely bizarre to operate in such a fashion; removing posts is – in 98% of the cases – enough of a “punishment” in itself: the “offending” post is no longer available for viewing, and the poster who put it up gets the message that whatever line of debate or comment they’d been pursuing is apparently a no-no. It doesn’t even matter if the poster agreed that it SHOULD be a no-no, at least they know what TPTB think.

      In VERY rare cases, if people decide to push their luck after they’ve been warned repeatedly, then banning is appropriate. But people who do so are pretty easy to spot: me, o_danny_boy/spartacus/algernon_sidney . It’s not difficult, I would submit, to distinguish between posters who might have just slipped, and ones who are there to stir the pot intentionally, regardless of violations. If banning were reserved only for the obvious pot-stirrers, and removal of post and warning were the main method of notifying usually-positive posters that they’d “strayed,” I think there’d be a heck of a lot less friction. I “know” you pretty well, in the cyber-world, and you are almost invariably polite and respectful, even friendly, to everyone, even those you oppose in debate. But you, too, have accumulated “three strikes,” and – if you’re like me – you feel rather unjustly punished, especially if those three “strikes” were spaced out over a span of months or even several years. It feels unfair because it IS unfair. It’s an inflexible rule which neither demonstrates nor allows for any human judgment on the part of TPTB. And so people – like me, like you, like a lot of folks, wind up getting irritated and cynical…which only deteriorates attitudes further. After all: if one now believes that a forum one previously believed had fair rules is instead merely an haven of arbitrary and punitive punishment, one will have markedly less respect for those rules, right?

      I think that’s why – over time – people tend to become more callous and less respectful of iSwill’s TOS and their capricious and bizarre implementation…not to mention contemptuous of the consequences of violating them. iSwill occasionally sends out threatening “we’ll sue” emails…but they never follow up, to my knowledge. That’s just a tactic to scare people off by making them decide that posting in that particular piece of the internet just isn’t worth the risk of a lawsuit. And I’m sure it works, in most cases. Unfortunately, as you and I both know, PT in general still suffers from the ravages of the years of entrenched bias, cronyism and outright refusal to acknowledge the truth of either of those things. I swear, it’s like a persistent, recurring cancer: other boards, while sometimes very contentious, don’t seem to attract and nurture nearly the same sort of ill-will-driven, spiteful hacks that PT does. It’s little more than a slag-fest most of the time, a fact which I confirm each time I occasionally anonymously drop in and read my way through the first half-dozen top threads. I find so little of value there – more outlandish “birther” nonsense (and even worse racist/threatening stuff), “gotcha” posts, etc, that it merely reinforces my belief that little – if any – genuine debate is possible. And there just aren’t enough hours in the day for that kind of sturm and drang. That’s one of the chief reasons I created this blog: because although I miss the back-and-forth of exchanging views with a diverse group of people with different political perspectives, I still enjoy writing down my own thoughts about politics. And my wife was getting mighty tired of me deluging what was supposed to be a family blog with them, LOL.

      Anyway, I hope you all are well – under the circumstances, and I’m thrilled to see you here. I hope you find work soon.

  2. I understand that if I wish to come here to debate, I need to have the stones to do so under my own identity.

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