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Maybe William Kristol needs a Mulligan

To prove I just don't just pick on....... I won't say that person's name. Today's example of haywire punditry goes to William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard and just made a columnist at the New York Times.

By now you have probably heard of Kristol attributing a quote to Michelle Malkin instead of Michael Medved.(At least he got the initials right. Sarcastic laughter time) Did anyone however notice how high Kristol's piece ranks on the cliche meter?

James Fallows at The Atlantic Monthly did-

Wow.

Suppose you had just received one of the most important opportunities in opinion journalism: a regular op-ed column in the New York Times. Suppose it was all the more important because it gave you a base in what would normally be considered enemy territory, right there alongside Paul Krugman and Frank Rich and the NYT's own editorials. Suppose your debut column came at a moment of peak political excitement, with the surprise of the Iowa caucuses just behind us and the New Hampshire primaries one day away.

In those circumstances, would this be the best you could come up with for the very first paragraphs of your very first column? It is what the new NYT columnist William Kristol has offered to introduce himself:


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.

But gratitude for sparing us a third Clinton term only goes so far. Who, inquiring minds want to know, is going to spare us a first Obama term? After all, for all his ability and charm, Barack Obama is still a liberal Democrat. Some of us would much prefer a non-liberal and non-Democratic administration. We don't want to increase the scope of the nanny state, we don't want to undo the good done by the appointments of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, and we really don't want to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory in Iraq.

I'm saying nothing about the content here. Indeed the subject -- how the GOP should run against Barack Obama -- is one on which readers would want to hear a well-connected Republican's views.

I am talking instead about the breathtaking banality of expression.

A single cliched phrase, like the last sentence of the first paragraph, can be effective. A whole string of cliches, like the second paragraph, is effective only in raising questions about the author's skill and quality of thought. The passage might serve as a test for prospective copy-editors. For instance: "What is avoidably awkward about the sentence beginning, 'After all, for all his ability..'?" Or, "How could the author express his thought without cliches?"

Content aside, I think there is no arguing what Kristol wrote was pretty bad.

Who am I to criticize Kristol? No sane person will hire me to write an opinion column for a newspaper. Nevertheless, this wasn't a very good start from the conservative pundit. Hopefully Kristol will do better in the future.

I have some doubts about that. Kristol's recent floating of Joe Lieberman as a Republican VP possibility, and this column trying to cheer up the GOP about 2008, had me saying Kristol needed to lay down.

Rest assured you'll see me picking on a crazy liberal in the MSM soon enough or did this qualify? In the mean time, try again William Kristol.

For the non-golf fans out there, a mulligan is when a golfer is allowed to replay a shot.


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Comments (9)

For the non-golf fans ou... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

For the non-golf fans out there, a mulligan is when a golfer is allowed to replay a shot.

And real golfers know there's no such thing as a mulligan. ;-)

Agreed. That's some pretty cliché-riddled writing by Kristol. Maybe he felt pressure to keep up with the annoyingly chirpy and alliteration-addicted (ha!) writing of Maureen Dowd. Who knows...

No, that link was not a con... (Below threshold)
Jeff:

No, that link was not a content or style critique ... not even close ...

How about you write about some falsehood perpetrated by a Democrat ?

Or do you just love to snipe at Conservatives so much that you can't help yourself.

CINO ... back to Wizbang Blue with you ...

Conservative In Name Only .... (Below threshold)
Jeff:

Conservative In Name Only ...

Not surprising. Kristol is ... (Below threshold)
jp2:

Not surprising. Kristol is continuously wrong about everything. Take a look at his war predictions and election predictions. Wrong, wrong.

Jeff, Jim Addison,... (Below threshold)

Jeff,

Jim Addison, my colleague at Wizbang Politics, besides telling you I'm a registered democrat, will say my views are pretty moderate.

Then I've also been called a Right wing nut at Daily Kos

Indirectly referred to as a moonbat by Michelle Malkin

and

called middle of the road by James Johnson at State of Sunshine.

Anyone other than Steven Taylor at Poliblog be honored in same fashion?


Cheers,

Bill

Bill,my bad in ass... (Below threshold)
Jeff:

Bill,

my bad in assuming any poster on Wizbang must be a non-dem ...

that said I still think your critique of Kristol is completely different than the post you linked ... that appears to be a critique of the content vs. the style ...

I always thought that the content was more important than the style but then again I went to an engineering school ...

I assume we will be seeing more of your work in the future ... please keep coming back, we'll have you voting independent in a couple of years and maybe GOP in a decade or so ...

I am with Jeff on this. Eve... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica ImmigrantL:

I am with Jeff on this. Even though I am not a fan of Kristol, but the substance of the passage in bold as highlighted above (repeated below for reference) is right on. Basically Obama is short of substance. He is running on Carter-like personal morality. Yet his record is chilling (he voted against providing medical care for aborted babies who survive. He must be really cold-hearted or simply an abortion fanatics). On the other hand, he is running on the charisma and the oratary skill of Clinton (he can make up facts with a straight face). The change in Obama 's lingo is from victory to defeat in Iraq, prosperity to dependency, less to more abortions even killing surving aborted babies etc ...

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.

But gratitude for sparing us a third Clinton term only goes so far. Who, inquiring minds want to know, is going to spare us a first Obama term? After all, for all his ability and charm, Barack Obama is still a liberal Democrat. Some of us would much prefer a non-liberal and non-Democratic administration. We don't want to increase the scope of the nanny state, we don't want to undo the good done by the appointments of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, and we really don't want to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory in Iraq.

I think this is nitpicking,... (Below threshold)
Mitchell:

I think this is nitpicking, Bill. It's in a conversational style and it's interesting enough writing to keep you reading.

After all, you read it, didn't you??

What about the ideas he conveys? He's not a journalist, he's in politics.

I gotta tell you Bill, you ... (Below threshold)
Veeshir:

I gotta tell you Bill, you come across like a guitar playing in the garage band saying that Jimmy Page is overrated.




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