Saturday, September 19, 2009

Irving Kristol - RIP

Irving Kristol, the grandfather of Neo-Conservatism, has died at the age of 89. Kristol was already out of the spotlight by the time I became aware of the neoconservative persuasion, but his book “Neo-Conservatism: Autobiography of an Idea” had a profound effect on me, and it clearly had a major effect on others and the political trajectory of those liberals who were “mugged by reality.”

Here is what is being said about Kristol by more important folks.

Reihan Salam:
Throughout his life, Kristol was a defender of the New Deal, and in particular of Social Security. The apocalyptic rhetoric of the tea-party movement is in an obvious sense sharply in tension with this neoconservative persuasion, embracing as it does the temperamental radicalism we once associated with the far left. Though I can't imagine Kristol was a supporter of Barack Obama—my guess is that he found the president troublingly naive and overambitious—he also believed in the resilience of American democracy and the disfiguring effects of political rage. If the American right wing ever recaptures the imagination of the public, it will do so by heeding the lessons of Irving Kristol.”
Robert Kagan:
He was a truly great man, a great intellectual, and a great, patriotic servant to his country. He was also a unique inspiration, to me personally, and to untold thousands of other young people for whom he provided a model of the intellectual life well-lived. He was a deep and fierce thinker, who nevertheless delivered his thoughts in the most amiable fashion, without animus or bile. He was curious and invited others to be curious, to engage in serious dialogue on the important issues of the day.”
Joe Lieberman:
We have lost an intellectual giant. Irving Kristol was an inventive entrepreneur of ideas who was boundless in his wit, creativity, and insight. Irving understood that ideas have consequences - and his immense influence was the result of his unique ability to shape the American political landscape with the power of creative thought. Irving was a genuine patriot who eloquently and forcefully defended America’s values and principles. He leaves us with a great intellectual legacy that will continue to enrich our political dialogue for many years to come.”
I wouldn’t be surprised to see a reassessment of Kristol’s ideas and his approach to implementing policy. Kristol remained generally silent on the liberation of Iraq and Afghanistan, but previous arguments he made lead second generation Neo-Conservatives to believe his political outlook had moved closer to classical realism than the policies that would come to be known as neo-conservatism. It would not surprise me in the least if we see glowing words for Kristol from unexpected corners of the policy field.

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