Monday, January 7, 2008

Quoting Kristol

Maureen Dowd’s latest compatriot on the New York Times commentary page is Bill Kristol, noted neo-con and omnipresent Fox television fixture. While Bill is new to the Times, he is no stranger to Dowd. The two have a professional relationship dating back to the Poppy Bush administration when he was vice-presidential chief of staff a/k/a “Quayle’s Brain”, something you would think you want to keep off your resume.

Here is how she described him back in 1989:

For his chief of staff, Quayle recruited a skeptical William Kristol, the 36-year-old son of Irving Kristol, by promising an ''energetic'' Vice Presidency. Lauded by the Democratic Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan as a 'formidable intellect,' Kristol is a New York native with a Ph.D. from Harvard in political science, where he subsequently taught politics. He has worked as chief of staff for William Bennett at the Education Department and has a reputation around Washington as a savvy conservative manager. 'The Vice President felt that there would be no inconsistency between being loyal and discreet and helping make policy,' says Kristol, 'and it's turned out that way.'
After the changing of the guard in 1992 with the election of Billary, Kristol became more frequently quoted by name rather than on background. He supplied a bon mot that became of the earliest digs at Al Gore’s infamous stiffness:
Another unfortunate omen for Gore came during Clinton's first press conference as President-elect, when he invited his Vice President to join him on stage, but made no opening for him to say anything. Gore stood silently, staring somewhat vacantly into the middle distance with his arms straight at his side. He looked, said William Kristol, Vice President Quayle's chief of staff, "like an environmentally correct wooden Native American outside a cigar store."
Kristol was peripherally involved in the Sununu columns that caused John to curse her, leading to the recent exorcism of her condo. She caught up with Bill at the opening of the Bush I library to learn some new gossip:
But I learned something even spookier: John Sununu is Dan Quayle's new brain.

Bill Kristol was Dan Quayle's old brain. In the White House, he was the chief of staff in charge of educating the frisky Vice President.

'I'll cheerfully acknowledge that John's I.Q. is considerably higher than mine -- he always told me it was,' Mr. Kristol said of his old nemesis. Mr. Sununu was President Bush's chief of staff until his inflamed ego, bellicose temper and personal trips on military planes and a Government limo jaunt to a stamp auction tripped him up.
While Bill was a staple of her columns in the early 90s, they must have had a falling out somewhere along the line. In recent years, he has appeared in her columns only through indirect quotes from his ubiquitous opining on the Fox Network. In 2003, she referred to him parenthetically as “über-hawk Bill Kristol.”

In her book, Are Men Necessary?, Dowd emphasizes the need to stay civil with all your acquaintances since you never know when a former lover or old colleague will show up in a professional setting. Let’s wait and see if any sparks fly between Dowd and her old source.

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