Nicholas Kristof and William Kristol.
While only one letter separates the last names of these two men, their views could not be more separate.
Both Kristof and Kristol have now published their opinions in the New York Times on the American automobile industry “bailout.” With a couple of exceptions, Kristof and Kristol seem to have similar concerns and objectives on this one issue.
In my post yesterday, on Kristof’s column, I said sarcastically—and braggingly—that Kristof took the words right out of my mouth.
Basically, Kristof (with an f) is concerned that on this issue we are about to “cut our nose off to spite our face,” but he said it much more elegantly and convincingly:
Look, there are plenty of sound arguments against a bailout. But there’s a practical argument that trumps everything: when conditions are so fragile, we can’t risk a staggering blow to the national economy. When you see a hole in the dike, don’t discuss the virtues of laissez-faire policies — plug it!
Today, in his “Left and Right, Piling On,” Kristol (with an i) voices similar concerns and, in particular, bemoans the “disparate treatment” of the automakers and the financial establishment.
Kristol rightly points out how the right berates the United Automobile Workers (unions), and says:
Last week, Senate Republicans picked a fight with the U.A.W. on union pay scales — despite the fact that it’s the legacy benefits for retirees, not pay for current workers, that’s really hurting Detroit, and despite the additional fact that, in any case, labor amounts to only about 10 percent of the cost of a car. But the Republicans were fighting Big Labor! They were standing firm against bailouts! Some of the same conservatives who (correctly, in my view) made the case for $700 billion for Wall Street pitched a fit over $14 billion in loans for the automakers.
So far, so good, but then Kristol, in trying to be evenhanded, I guess, careens off-the-tracks with his tirade that “elitist liberals” don’t have much sympathy for the auto workers:
But even on the left, while Democratic politicians still try to look out for the interests of the U.A.W., there’s not really that much sympathy for the workers. The ascendant environmentalists disdain (to say the least) the internal combustion engine and everyone associated with it. Most of today’s limousine liberals are embarrassed by their political alliance with the workers who built those limousines.
Kristol could have come up with much better arguments against the left, but this one of Democrats not having sympathy for the workers is, for lack of a stronger word, pure “Kristol Hogwash.”
Other than that, Kristol does OK on this one, and in some respects approaches the common sense and elocution of Kristof.
Thank you Bill.
From a Prius-driving elitist, who has never set foot in a limousine and who is hoping that one day he’ll be able to purchase a small, fuel-efficient, reliable, environmentally friendly car designed, engineered and built by much-appreciated American workers.
The author is a retired U.S. Air Force officer and a writer.