Bill Kristol: Obama Partly Responsible for the Rise of Trump

 

KristolFounder and Editor in Chief of the Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol, gave an exclusive interview on this week’s NRO’s War on Trump edition of the Harvard Lunch Club Political Podcast with hosts Todd Feinburg and your humble correspondent. Last week, Bill participated with 21 other distinguished conservatives in an issue of the National Review (a rival publication to the Weekly Standard), dedicated to criticizing Donald Trump’s status as a conservative or, indeed, as a worthwhile candidate for conservative voters. Having a deep interest in the subject myself (cf., my recent column in American Thinker) I was interested in hearing Bill’s take on the NR issue and on Donald Trump in general. To no surprise, we were not disappointed.

Bill Kristol began the interview by describing how the pundits have gone wrong in underestimating Trump.

I’ve been a skeptic about Donald Trump but he’s proven me wrong so far. I guess I remain a skeptic, I just don’t think he’ll be the Republican nominee. I think there are too many objections to him – legitimate objections by Republicans both in terms of character and … soundness in general. And then also is he really a conservative? But as I say I thought he would fall apart earlier and he’s clearly in it to stay. Those of us who’ve claimed we could say what was going to happen in this last year have certainly been wrong more often than not.

Kristol gave an interesting diagnosis of why the Trump phenomena proved to be so great a surprise – suggesting that the Obama Presidency could take a lot of the blame (or the credit):

I guess the degree of disillusionment with the political class including the Republican political leadership, the populism out there, the sense of the ineffectuality of Republicans [is responsible for Trump’s appeal]. I think Obama really did more damage in a way [to what] Republicans and conservatives face in pursuing normal political and Constitutional purposes with frankly normal political leaders. And so, there’s a real appetite for someone like Trump who has a certain contempt for all these normal, political means and who presents himself as a Republican version of a kind of strongman.

Obama used extra-Constitutional means and Trump seems to have no particular concern about limited government or Constitutional government and not a deep attachment I would even say to the rule of law. I think that’s an unfortunate effect of Obama on a fair number of Republicans and conservatives.

In addition, Kristol discusses with us various other angles on the current political landscape, including why Jeb Bush was destined to fail, how the conservative movement needs to be “updated and revised and reformed” and how Trump really did “hit a chord” on the national frustration over the illegal immigration issue, regarding which Kristol claims to be a hawk. He also gives us some insight on the origin of the anti-Trump National Review issue and who did (and who probably did not) instigate it.

Finally, the talk turns to Hillary: Would Bill Kristol support Hillary Clinton over Trump if it came to that? His answer on that was really interesting, insightful and funny … revealing even!

Here’s where you can go to hear it.

There are 12 comments.

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  1. Merina Smith Inactive
    Merina Smith
    @MerinaSmith

    Thanks for letting us know.  I’ll listen to it later.  Kristol always talks good sense.

    • #1
  2. Herbert Inactive
    Herbert
    @Herbert

    We have John Mccain and his nomination of Sarah Palin to thank for our predicament we find ourselves in now….  a populist, non idealogical, lightweight leading the ticket.

    • #2
  3. Fricosis Guy Listener
    Fricosis Guy
    @FricosisGuy

    I believe Trump is a reaction to a series of diffident and reactive presidents. We’ve been adrift for long stretches since the first Gulf War.

    • #3
  4. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    Kristol applauded big government conservatism, went after Bush for proposing a modest privatization reform for SS.   He’s the epitome of Washington establishment.  He’ll end up welcoming Trump once it’s acceptable.

    • #4
  5. Douglas Inactive
    Douglas
    @Douglas

    Obama is only partly responsible for the rise of Trump to the extent that liberalism and it’s consequences (political correctness, forced adherence to SJW/LGBTBBQ pieties in media, commerce, and entertainment) drove us into a rage. Obama is just the face of liberalism for now.

    The other half that’s responsible is the GOP/Conservatism Inc, for taking a dive when we expected it to be our voice and act for us.

    • #5
  6. Michael Stopa Contributor
    Michael Stopa
    @MichaelStopa

    I Walton:Kristol applauded big government conservatism, went after Bush for proposing a modest privatization reform for SS. He’s the epitome of Washington establishment. He’ll end up welcoming Trump once it’s acceptable.

    In the podcast Kristol indicates that he is open to being convinced.

    • #6
  7. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    I have been saying for several months that Obama was George W Bush’s legacy, and Trump will be Obama’s legacy.

    • #7
  8. Quake Voter Inactive
    Quake Voter
    @QuakeVoter

    Broken promises for thirty years account for the appeal of Trump’s overpromising in 2016.

    Working class incomes in the US have flatlined for forty years.

    Arguments focussed  on chained CPI  versus unchained CPI  and the availability of portable air  conditioners and color televisions are rather pathetic

    GOP answer:  1986 amnesty,NAFTA, WTO fundamentalism, expanded chains of  legal immigration, unenforced  illegal immigration and H1bs for crucial specialty occupations like LPNs, help  desk personnel, and  poultry workers.

    GOP answers 2016:  Rubio’s disingenuous rope-a-dope and Cruz’s humma-da-humma-da every time he’s asked  about what he plans to  do about the 12-15 million illegals in the country.

    Weary tut tutting about illegal immigration “not being really one of my concerns” doesn’t help .

    Successful political parties coalesce groups who do not share every critical concern.

    Unsuccessful political parties thumb their  nose at the critical concerns of key groups in  their  potential majority.

    Ergo Trump.

    • #8
  9. The Cloaked Gaijin Member
    The Cloaked Gaijin
    @TheCloakedGaijin

    You can’t blame the other party.

    Blame the Surrender Party. No shut-down means always surrender — forever and ever and ever.

    • #9
  10. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    I didn’t read it.  I’m beginning to find Bill Kristol too sanctimonious.  But does he even mention the lack of leadership with Republicans is mostly to blame for trump’s rise?  Does he mention that elitist “intellectuals” like Bill Kristol himself have a distorted view of what Americans really want?  Does he mention that elitist disconnect with the populace?

    • #10
  11. Michael Stopa Contributor
    Michael Stopa
    @MichaelStopa

    Manny:I didn’t read it. I’m beginning to find Bill Kristol too sanctimonious. But does he even mention the lack of leadership with Republicans is mostly to blame for trump’s rise? Does he mention that elitist “intellectuals” like Bill Kristol himself have a distorted view of what Americans really want? Does he mention that elitist disconnect with the populace?

    He was more aware of that than I expected Manny. It is a good interview with a bright guy. I am in Trump’s camp regarding the N.R. hit-piece. But Kristol is not ignorant.

    • #11
  12. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    Michael Stopa:

    Manny:I didn’t read it. I’m beginning to find Bill Kristol too sanctimonious. But does he even mention the lack of leadership with Republicans is mostly to blame for trump’s rise? Does he mention that elitist “intellectuals” like Bill Kristol himself have a distorted view of what Americans really want? Does he mention that elitist disconnect with the populace?

    He was more aware of that than I expected Manny. It is a good interview with a bright guy. I am in Trump’s camp regarding the N.R. hit-piece. But Kristol is not ignorant.

    Thanks.  If I get some time tomorrow I’ll read it.

    • #12
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