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.