Charles Brian Orner
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The Sostenuto Blog

The Weekly Standard Closes

Bill Kristol, Editor of the Weekly Standard

Bill Kristol, Editor of the Weekly Standard

There are two things to be mentioned about the shuttering of The Weekly Standard.

The first, and by far the most important, is that it is long overdue, richly deserved, and best regarded with a healthy dose of schadenfreude. Bill Kristol, Robert Kagan, and Stephen Hayes, et al., have been serving up neoconservative bullshit for as long as I care to remember, and have fostered incalculable damage to the American body politic, and by extension, to the entire world. Their ideologies of nation-building and voodoo economics have repeatedly wrecked economies and entire nations in favor of war-mongered profiteering and the outrageous hubris of the seminal Project for a New American Century. Kristol, in particular—a poor prognosticator and even poorer writer—somehow managed to carve out a niche for himself on the national stage as the pundit who was most reliably wrong about everything. Kristol’s father made a name for himself by shilling for the red-baiting tactics of Senator Joseph McCarthy, and about this it can only be said that the apple does not fall far from the serpent. Throughout his public life, Kristol has sold ostensibly erudite multisyllabic articulation of utterly brain-dead, bone-headed ideas to a lemming audience of rubes and fools, and he made himself immensely wealthy in the process. This alone is an indictment of the America he sought to champion. A recitation of his greatest hits would either bore or horrify the reader to tears, but for the masochistic among us, it can easily be obtained via a couple of small beers and the electric Google machine.

This leads us to the second thing. Neoconservatism has given us Bush and Cheney and Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld; it has cost us hundreds of thousands of dead in Iraq, with a trillion dollars of wasted national treasure and a thoroughly destabilized Middle East. It has destroyed the economies of Kansas and Oklahoma, given rise to the international financial meltdown at the turn of the century, and is the chief reason that the national debt now exceeds $21 trillion. It has bifurcated society into the extremely wealthy and the widespread poor, but—more important than all of this—it is the nascent virus that has since metastasized into the neofascist movement known as Trumpism.

Counterintuitively, Kristol and Hayes have become prominent “never-Trumpists,” which most recognize as the chief factor that has led to the demise of their magazine. About this they can be praised of little more than regaining a small measure of the common sense that they have so sorely lacked these past decades. It is the equivalent of repudiating their own progeny—as if they have had no part in it, no responsibility for it, and no recourse for even a modicum of self-reflection. It might be charitably said that this is small beer of the first water.

Neoconservatism has killed the Middle East, and the middle class, and the rule of law, and the roots of representative democracy. Now the fascists have finally killed neoconservatism, and those of us who remain can neither weep nor cheer. We can only note that the world is a far poorer place for its passing. There is no more damning epitaph than that.


Brian Orner