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Bill Kristol is Not Stupid, So Why Does He Pretend to Be?

07/01/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Republicans, especially the near-extinct war-mongering faction of the party, aren't really good at anything these days, but they sure have perfected the art of framing a political issue to suit their rhetoric. In his New York Times op-ed column Monday, "Someone Else's Alex," uber neo-con Bill Kristol demonstrates the skill with such uber-deftness that it's a painful reminder of how much the left still needs to learn. And hopefully well before November when, in Kristol's dreams, the nation could elect the GOP's nominee, Sen. John McCain, as Bush 3.

In his column Kristol whines about the new MoveOn.org 30-second ad, "Not Alex," about the Iraq war and McCain's position on keeping troops there indefinitely, even for as much as "100 years," as he's been quoted. In attacking the ad, Kristol claims all it does is "express contempt for all who might choose to serve their country in uniform." Nice catchy soundbite, Bill. Damn those unpatriotic Democrats, right? Well here's what the ad actually says, according to Kristol's own account:

A mother speaks as she holds her baby boy:

"Hi, John McCain. This is Alex. And he's my first. So far his talents include trying any new food and chasing after our dog. That, and making my heart pound every time I look at him. And so, John McCain, when you say you would stay in Iraq for 100 years, were you counting on Alex? Because if you were, you can't have him."

Now, let's play a fun little game. Can anyone actually spot the part where the ad expresses "contempt for all who might choose to serve their country in uniform?" Kristol's accusation is a pretty big leap, no? Here's a woman who "simply" (as Kristol writes) says she does not want McCain or anyone else to send her baby to fight in Iraq someday. Where does she say anything...anything...about our military forces in general or her "contempt" for them?

Kristol continues by quoting the reaction of the mother of an "actual" soldier (as if only mothers of actual soldiers can have an opinion about the war):

"Does that mean that she wants other people's sons to keep the wolves at bay so that her son can live a life of complete narcissism? What is it she thinks happens in the world? ... Someone has to stand between our society and danger. If not my son, then who? If not little Alex then someone else will have to stand and deliver. Someone's son, somewhere."

No ma'am, I believe what Alex's mother is "simply" saying is that she does not believe the Iraq war is justified; or that it's accomplishing the mission it set out to achieve; and that she does not want her son to have to grow up and be shipped off to another futile Vietnam-like debacle which the Republicans so cavalierly started and are now so clueless as to finding an end.

Kristol finishes his piece with a preachy, nauseatingly faux-compassionate sermon about patriotism and fairness:

"The MoveOn ad is unapologetic in its selfishness, and barely disguised in its disdain for those who have chosen to serve -- and its contempt for those parents who might be proud of sons and daughters who are serving. The ad boldly embraces a vision of a selfish and infantilized America, suggesting that military service and sacrifice are unnecessary and deplorable relics of the past. And the sole responsibility of others."

That's pretty ironic, Bill. This is what Democrats have been saying since the war began. That our soldiers fighting and dying in Iraq are the sons and daughters of the poor and middle classes, not those of the wealthy, or those of the Republican war-mongers who sent them there. The true contempt for our soldiers comes from you and your neo-con pals who sent them off to fight and die in a totally bogus, elective war where America faced no threat whatsoever. It is you and your testosterone-starved henchman who need to apologize, not MoveOn.org or Alex's mother.

But as I said, Kristol's a great framer. He's not as dumb as he sounds. He's actually quite smart. Smart enough to know his audience, who's clearly not nearly as smart as he is.