Home
In this issue
December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Sept. 22, 2009 / 4 Tishrei 5770

Irreplaceable Irving

By Mona Charen




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Irving Kristol, who passed away last week at the age of 89, was like everyone's favorite uncle — if the uncle were a transformative intellectual of empyrean stature. He was both a warm and approachable human being and a penetrating social critic. He was, in a very American way, a practical man, and his approach to ideas was always firmly and refreshingly reality-based.


Irving Kristol was born in New York in 1920, so it was inevitable that he would become, for a short time at least, a socialist. But even as a young socialist, Kristol was skeptical about the principal animating sentiment of the left: a belief in man's perfectibility. As early as 1944, Kristol wrote of his preference for "moral realism," which "foresees no new virtues" and is "interested in human beings as it finds them, content with the possibilities and limitations that are always with us." It was a Madisonian frame of mind and it would take him by degrees to the right.


Though the term "neoconservative" has come to be associated with a muscular foreign policy (when it is not a thinly veiled codeword for Jew), it began in the 1960s as a disparaging term for those liberals, led by Kristol and a few others, who were bent on doing something that made other liberals acutely uncomfortable: test whether their theories worked in the real world.


Through his quarterly journal, The Public Interest , as well as his indispensable column in the Wall Street Journal, Kristol turned his analytical attention to the programs of the Great Society. Did urban redevelopment really improve the lot of the poor? Did deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill work? Did welfare programs have unintended consequences? If these questions now seem obvious, it is because Kristol offered an early and perspicacious critique that has since become conventional wisdom. "The problem with our current welfare programs," he wrote decades ago, "is not that they are costly — which they are — but that they have such perverse consequences for the people they are supposed to benefit."


In issue after issue, The Public Interest catalogued the failure of Great Society programs to achieve their goals and itemized the programs' unintended and often baleful consequences. Empiricists who read Kristol tended to become neoconservatives and eventually unprefixed conservatives. Ideologues were of course unmoved, and some of Kristol's most trenchant commentary concerned them. In 1972, Kristol wrote: "'All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling,' wrote Oscar Wilde, and I would like to suggest that the same can be said for bad politics . … It seems to me that the politics of liberal reform, in recent years, shows many of the same characteristics as amateur poetry. It has been more concerned with the kind of symbolic action that gratifies the passions of the reformer rather than with the efficacy of the reforms themselves. Indeed, the outstanding characteristic of what we call 'the New Politics' is precisely its insistence on the overwhelming importance of revealing, in the public realm, one's intense feelings — we must 'care,' we must 'be concerned,' we must be 'committed.' Unsurprisingly, this goes along with an immense indifference to consequences, to positive results or the lack thereof."


Because he actually did care about ordinary people and their welfare, Kristol became one of capitalism's great apologists. Capitalism had eased more misery and engendered more comfort than any other system in world history, he pointed out (and he knew his world history). But starting in the 1960s, Kristol became something else that discomfited liberals even more than a capitalist — a cultural conservative. As he wrote in "My Cold War," a 1993 recap of his intellectual journey from left to right: "But what began to concern me more and more were the clear signs of rot and decadence germinating within American society — a rot and decadence that was no longer the consequence of liberalism but was the actual agenda of contemporary liberalism. And the more contemporary, the more candid and radical was this agenda." While he believed, as he said on another occasion, that "This cultural nihilism will have, in the short term, only a limited political effect — short of a massive, enduring economic crisis. The reason … is that a bourgeois, property-owning democracy tends to breed its own antibodies. These antibodies immunize it, in large degree, against the lunacies of its intellectuals and artists." Nevertheless, he warned, combating the cultural decay — a war on spiritual poverty — was even more important than winning the other Cold War.


Irving Kristol often praised the common sense of ordinary people and disdained the vanity and foolishness of intellectuals. He was that rarest of blends: a sparkling intellectual who was grounded in common sense and experience. It was a world-shaking combination.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


Comment on JWR contributor Mona Charen's column by clicking here.

Mona Charen Archives

© 2006, Creators Syndicate

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles