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New York Times columnist William Kristol is a regular on Fox News, where he always has something to add to enliven the conversation. And on Sunday morning he had some very revealing advice for Hillary Clinton. Let’s go to the video.
The key that Hillary can use to take down Barack Obama, says this political analyst, is “the politics of fear.” In fact, Kristol is to be congratulated for stating an operational principle that can be distilled from much of his rhetoric. He is convinced that fear-mongering works very effectively in a democratic society, especially when it gets proper reverberation within the mass media.
Kristol is being sold to us as a “conservative” commentator. I see nothing “conservative” about his thinking or tactics. They smack of something entirely different. I would draw on Edmund Burke for an understanding of the values of the political conservative. And here is what Burke had to say about the tactics of fear:
No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear. . . Those despotic governments, which are founded on the passions of men, and principally upon the passion of fear, keep their chief as much as may be from the public eye.
Fear is employed to cripple reason, to enslave, to craft tyrannical rule, he says. Fear is not a tool that a democratic state uses on its own people. This is a simple, fundamental, vital point. And Kristol exposes a crude cynicism–enough to cause a real conservative to become nauseous.
I propose that we keep on top of Mr. Kristol. Let’s open a “Ministry of Fear Watch” and keep count of his fear-mongering or fear-enabling in coming months. Readers are invited to note and clip Mr. Kristol’s fear-mongering, to be recorded and discussed in this space.
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”