Is ‘Times Columnist’ Kristol Still an Adviser to McCain?

US Politics
on 12 Comments
Last October, the Washington Post reported that Bill Kristol is 
an "informal policy adviser" to Sen. John McCain. Since then,
Kristol has become a New York Times Op-Ed columnist. A friend
of mine, who wishes to remain anonymous, has been writing as a
"Maryland resident" to the Times' Public Editor asking for a
public statement on the matter. He renews these calls every time
Kristol writes about the candidates, as he did
so this morning, praising McCain's statement
on Passover
as better than Hillary's or Obama's.

I'm confused too. Here are my pal's letters (his reluctance to
give his name stems from an organizational association):

Dear Mr. Hoyt,

I just phoned your office as William Kristol has again
written about Sen. McCain without noting his previous
connection to the McCain campaign as an informal
advisor.  I assume he is no longer an informal
advisor. Nevertheless, he should have an ethical
responsibility to his readers to note this previous
connection.  I am including below my letters of Feb.
22 and Feb. 4 on this matter.

Best regards,

Maryland resident

Dear Mr. Hoyt,

I wrote the letter below to you over two weeks ago,
but have not heard back.  Then, Wednesday, I saw a
correction similar to the one below on the op-ed page
in regard to an informal advisor (Abner J. Mikva) to
the Obama campaign.  I continue to believe that
readers were misled by the William Kristol column of
Feb. 4 because of the failure to indicate Kristol's
one-time connection to the McCain campaign.

Correction: February 16, 2008
Earlier editions of this article failed to disclose
that the author serves as an informal adviser to the
Obama campaign.

I would appreciate hearing from you on this matter.

Kind regards,

Maryland resident

Dear Mr. Hoyt,

I read the William Kristol piece this morning
("Dyspepsia On The Right," Feb. 4, 2008) and then by
fluke this afternoon stumbled across this link at the
Washington Post.
The October Washington Post summary
notes: "William Kristol, The Weekly Standard editor,
informal foreign policy adviser"

Does this tie, albeit informal, still exist? Even if
terminated doesn't Mr. Kristol have a responsibility
to note the connection?  I believe readers should be
provided with full information by op-ed writers about
their political ties -- past and present. Mr.
Kristol's potential personal political aspirations
make me wonder about his reasons for writing this
piece.  In taking the job with The New York Times did
he agree to cut all such ties?

Kind regards,

Maryland resident

12 Responses

  1. Jim Haygood
    April 21, 2008, 12:23 pm


    This is first time I've ever read a William Kristol column. Excerpt:

    "Sacrifices for the sake of freedom, the triumph of good over evil — if John McCain was at a Seder this past weekend, he surely would have liked this passage: “In all ages they rise up against us to destroy us; and the Holy One, blessed be He, rescues us from their hands.”

    "So if Clinton’s Passover message is liberal, and Obama’s is multicultural, one might call McCain’s Zionist."

    Ugh. Kristol is right, but this is unpleasant stuff. First the paranoid hysteria that "in all ages they rise up against us to destroy us," which I have heard restated in secular venues plenty of times.

    Then the implication that the Holy One is on our side, then and now. Whether God rescued the Jews from the Egyptians, or ever intervenes in human affairs, I wouldn't know. The obvious jubilation over the Egyptians being drowned seems vindictive, especially thousands of years after the fact.

    To the 21st century mind, the Jews are obviously the good guys in this ancient story, since they were the slaves. Few realize that the Jews had no philosophical objection to slavery — they just wanted to be the slaveowners, not the enslaved.

    Bush uses the same technique of invoking God for secular purposes, to cheer for our team against theirs. "Pray for our troops," as the bumper stickers say. Fundamentalist nutters (along with zionist kooks such as Kristol) probably believe God firmly backs the U.S. occupation troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yeah, well then why is He letting them lose? Better listen up, there may be a message here!

  2. Oarwell
    April 21, 2008, 1:09 pm

    At least the mendacious Mr. Kristol frames the question accurately:

    "So if Clinton’s Passover message is liberal, and Obama’s is multicultural, one might call McCain’s Zionist. There’s a clear choice of worldviews here — and not just for Jews, but for all Americans."

  3. Oarwell
    April 21, 2008, 1:11 pm

    Shorter Kristol: Gott mit uns.

  4. MRW.
    April 21, 2008, 1:25 pm

    (I, too, was appalled reading Kristol's column today.)

    But more to the point, Philip, is what if Mark Penn were granted a column in which to spout his political views without revealing that he was Clinton's informal volunteer political advisor, which is how Penn characterizes himself.

    The NYT should be ashamed of itself.

  5. MRW.
    April 21, 2008, 1:28 pm

    Mr. Haygood,

    OT. I meant to thank you for your comments about mine in another thread but screwed up the little letter thing that you have to enter to prevent scamming, and had no time to rewrite it. Anyway, thank you. Your comments are always thoughtful.

  6. Charles Keating
    April 21, 2008, 1:41 pm

    So, the philosophers are in the cave and manipulating the images (in the form of media, magazines, newspapers). They know full well that the respective lines they espouse are mendacious, but they are each convinced that theirs are noble lies.

  7. MRW.
    April 21, 2008, 1:49 pm

    Read Tony Karon's article "Who owns Passover?" in light of Kristol's bowl of steam
    link to

    […] It was easy to see how little our Jewish genetic lineage did to make us really Jewish in the South Africa of my youth, where every Passover, we sat around seder tables singing, in a barely understood Hebrew, of the days when we were slaves, while the black women who lived in our backyards under domestic labor system not that far removed from slavery, carried in steaming tureens of matzoh ball soup and tzimmes. We may have convinced ourselves that our DNA entitled us to claim this story as our own, but it was abundantly clear that in the South African context, most Jews had thrown in their lot with Pharoah, while the Israelites were working in their kitchens. […]

  8. Richard Witty
    April 21, 2008, 2:05 pm

    Now that sounds like a conflict of interest, a journalist AND advocate at the same time.

  9. Richard Witty
    April 21, 2008, 2:07 pm

    In our seders we sing of "NEVER AGAIN, to anybody, and not by my/our hand."

  10. Jim Haygood
    April 21, 2008, 7:10 pm


    Great find, MRW … Tony Karon's take on Passover. Mine is a little different, but his view of the Passover narrative as a universal story about liberation from oppression is enlightening. Hearing it read in a Jamaican church a few weeks ago, I just couldn't overcome the cognitive dissonance — a slavery morality tale, courtesy of one of the most privileged groups in America. Christ, shouldn't we be singin' Bob Marley instead —

    Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery;
    None but ourselves can free our minds.
    Have no fear for atomic energy,
    'Cause none of them can stop the time.
    How long shall they kill our prophets,
    While we stand aside and look? Ooh!
    Some say it's just a part of it:
    We've got to fulfil de book.

    Won't you help to sing
    These songs of freedom? –
    'Cause all I ever have:
    Redemption songs;
    Redemption songs;
    Redemption songs.

    link to


    Don't give me no "Go Down Moses." I'd rather hear Pastor Solomon Burke — a preacher from Philadelphia — hollerin' his country blues.

    link to

    I'm listenin' to his album "Nashville" right now. The man's a prophet, I say.

    link to

  11. samuel burke
    April 21, 2008, 7:22 pm

    google trends..
    link to

  12. Michael Blaine
    April 21, 2008, 9:16 pm

    Thank you, Samuel Burke.

    Yes, Ron Paul got very short shrift during the primary season.

    Yet, his positions on ending the occupation of Iraq and the "War on Drugs" are right on.

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