Friday, September 18, 2009

Irving Kristol, 1920-2009. R.I.P.

Many years ago while attending a workshop on Israel a woman described "neoconservatives as liberals who've been mugged."

She got the quote wrong.  The correct quote is, "Neoconservatives are liberals who were mugged by reality."  Irving Kristol, the man who coined that phrase, died today at the age of 89.

Kristol, along with Norman Podhoretz, is rightly thought as one of the founding fathers of neoconservative thought.  While Podhoretz shaped neoconservative thought on foreign policy, Kristol shaped neoconservative thought on domestic policy.  His best known work was Two Cheers for Capitalism. While Kristol praised capitalism for advancing individual liberty and for improving the human condition he could not give capitalism unequivocal praise.  Kristol argued that capitalism did not address the moral, religious or spiritual dimension. Perhaps most importantly, while Kristol recognized capitalism's merits he did not consider it a perfect theory.

I would be remiss if I didn't share a couple of Kristol's amusing quips:

The danger facing American Jews today is not that Christians want to persecute them but that Christians want to marry them.

An intellectual may be defined as a man who speaks with general authority about a subject on which he has no particular competence.

The second pearl of wisdom describes President Obama to a tee.

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