Bill Kristol wasn't too terribly impressed with Senator Barack Obama's recent commencement address at Wesleyan University. Well, all right, he did say that the speech was "skillfully crafted and well delivered, the grace notes were graceful, and the exhortations to public service seemed heartfelt but not cloying." But Kristol isn't going to just sit back and let Obama tell people that he was making some sort of great personal sacrifice by going to work as a community organizer in Chicago for "$12,000 a year plus $2,000 for an old, beat-up car."
Kristol sniffs: "Obama wants us to be impressed by the drama of his spurning the big bucks, by his bold acceptance of such a pittance of money in order that he could do good."
But then, in that particular way of his that couples every grand point with something utterly idiotic, Kristol went on to inform Times readers just how chintzy the pay is at his former employer, The Weekly Standard.
Leave aside the fact that two years elapsed between Obama's graduation from Columbia in 1983 and his heading off to Chicago in 1985. Dramatic foreshortening is, after all, sometimes necessary. And leave aside whether $14,000 in 1985 was really such a shockingly low salary for someone recently out of college -- in inflation-adjusted dollars, it's about what we pay entry-level editorial assistants today at The Weekly Standard.
As ThinkProgress notes, the privilege of slaving over the Bill Kristols of today at the Standard will net you $23,958, adding, "It seems Kristol may be living in a time warp because what he pays his new employees is less than the average salary for the lowest-level congressional staffer."
So, graduates of the United States of America, before you take that editorial assistant job at The Weekly Standard, ask yourself: are you really prepared to throw away a bright future in panhandling?
Of course, this recent entry by John Aravosis at AmericaBlog, tipped by the eagle-eyed Remember The Midwest blog demonstrates how a person can afford to work at the Standard on chump change - by taking the ideas of other people, it leaves one plenty of time to hold down a second, more lucrative job:
RealClearPolitics, May 27, 2008, in an article ironically titled "Obama's sin of omission":
So I guess it's just me wondering -- how on earth do you give a speech on that topic and not mention our country's most widespread and important form of public service and sacrifice, military service?
Maybe Obama didn't want to go there because of the unfortunate political contrast between himself and John McCain when it comes to military service and knowledge, an unflattering comparison that left Obama on the short end of a recent political exchange over veterans' benefits.
Now here is NYT op ed columnist Bill Kristol, dated today June 2, in a piece entitled "What Obama left out":
More striking is Obama's sin of omission. In the rest of the speech, he goes on to detail -- at some length -- the "so many ways to serve" that are available "at this defining moment in our history." There's the Peace Corps, there's renewable energy, there's education, there's poverty -- there are all kinds of causes you can take up "should you take the path of service."
But there's one obvious path of service Obama doesn't recommend -- or even mention: military service. He does mention war twice: "At a time of war, we need you to work for peace." And, we face "big challenges like war and recession." But there's nothing about serving your country in uniform.
It can't be that the possibility of military service as an admirable form of public service didn't occur to Obama. Only the day before, Obama had been squabbling with John McCain about veterans' benefits.