Methinks that Hillary Clinton's unexpected surge in New Hampshire is attributable entirely to Bill Kristol's inaugural column in Monday's New York Times. Call it the "Kristol factor." He's always wrong. Once again -- it took only a day -- he proved that his powers of prognostication are just not very keen:
Thank you, Senator Obama. You've defeated Senator Clinton in Iowa. It looks as if you're about to beat her in New Hampshire. There will be no Clinton Restoration. A nation turns its grateful eyes to you.
How should we make sense of Kristol's blustery blundering? With respect to his infamous warmongering campaigns gone awry, one should probably draw upon classical sources: his tragic moral blindness is surely Oedipean. To explain his recent emergence as a bungling Times columnist, one is first tempted to look to Marx's Eighteenth Brumaire ("Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce."). But then again, Kristol surely doesn't rate such high-minded treatment.
Rather, lowbrow and irreverent comedy seems now to be the right register by which to make sense of Kristol's unwittingly self-parodic place on the national stage. Remember the Seinfeld episode "The Opposite," in which George Costanza realizes that all of his instincts in life have been wrong? The current parallel to that script is striking in another way as well: George miraculously snares his dream job with the Yankees (though he eventually botches that, too).
Don't expect Forbes Magazine to be hiring Kristol as a stock analyst anytime soon.