Is Bill Kristol Trying to Salvage His Father’s Legacy, Irving Kristol?

Is Bill Kristol’s Vendetta Against Donald Trump

Personal, or Ideological?

Bill and Irving Kristol

Irving Kristol                      Bill Kristol

Irving Kristol once described a Neo-Conservative as:

“a liberal who has been mugged by reality”

Irving Kristol was the father of William (Bill) Kristol who is best known as the founder and editor of the Weekly Standard and now the archnemesis of Donald Trump and his 2016 Presidential bid.  Irving Kristol had been dubbed the “godfather of Neo-Conservatism”.  His son Bill, has followed in his father’s footsteps and continues to expound the virtues and values of neo-conservatism.

It Appears, that Bill Kristol Views Donald J. Trump as the Potential Destroyer of

Neo-Conservatism and the Demise of Irving Kristol’s Legacy.

Origins of Neo-Conservatism: (aka “Neocons”)

  • The Neo-Conservative movement coalesced in the 1960’s and many of its followers became known and active in Presidential administrations from 1970 through 2008.  Neo-Conservatism peaked during the administrations of George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.

  • Many of the early Neo-Conservatives were disillusioned Democratic politicians like Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who served in the Nixon Administration, and Jeane Kirkpatrick, who served in the Reagan Administration. 

  • Irving Kristol was one of the early “crafters” of the movement and described Neo-Conservatism “not an ideology, but a “persuasion,” a way of thinking about politics rather than a compendium of principles and axioms“.  Irving Kristol supported an FDR type of a limited welfare state; believed in supply-side economics but felt it had to be “tempered” (controlled by government intervention), by “political philosophy, moral philosophy, and even religious thought. 

  • Leo Strauss, like Kristol, was an early crafter of Neo-Conservative thought.  He was a professor of political science who influenced students such as Bill Kristol, John Podhoret, and military strategist Paul Wolfowitz.  For Professor Strauss, he believed in the spirit of the Greek classics, and argued that the American “Founding Fathers” were correct in their understanding of the classics in their principles of justice. For Strauss, political community is defined by convictions about justice and happiness rather than by sovereignty and force.

Neo-Conservative Belief System:

  • Foreign Policy: 

    • Neo-Conservatives are military interventionists and generally believe in a more aggressive foreign policy that includes regime change and democratization of the Middle East.

    • During the Cold War, New-Conservatives believed that the US should engage more aggressively against the Soviet Union in order to defeat communism.

    • Neo-Conservatives opposed George H.W. Bush’s withdrawal from Iraq unless he took our Saddam Hussein.  They were disappointed when he pulled out without regime change.

    • Following 9/11, George W. Bush adopted a full pallet of Neo-Conservative foreign policy ideas.  The Neo-Conservatives were instrumental in his invasion of Iraq and his removal of Hussein from power.  Bush had also been persuaded to pursue Iran and North Korea but the Iraqi war bogged down any further actions in additional theatres. 

    • In 2009, Jonathan Clarke described Neo-Conservatism as “a tendency to see the world in binary good/evil terms a low tolerance for diplomacy, a readiness to use military force, an emphasis on US unilateral action, a disdain for multilateral organizations and a focus on the Middle East.”

  • Domestic/Economic Policy:

    • Neoconservatives positions on social issues are mixed with some holding to liberal positions on social matters, and are unlikely to agree with religious conservatives on issues like abortion, prayer in school and same-sex marriage. 

    • Strauss Neo-Conservatives tend to agree with religious and cultural conservatives on social issues. Neo-Conservatives differ from libertarians in that the former tends to support Big government policies to further their objectives, and to support intrusions on personal liberty as George W. Bush’s 2001 Patriot act. 

    • Neo-Conservatism generally endorses free international markets and capitalism, favoring supply-side economics.

    • But, Neo-Conservatives do not necessarily feel that budget deficits are bad and favor a growth of government as needed.  Irving Kristol believed that in order to safeguard democracy, government intervention and budget deficits may be required. 

    • Neo-Conservatives also believe that the economy only makes up part of our lives, the economy must not be allowed to take over and entirely dictate to our society.  In other words, some enlightened (governmental) intervention may be needed to steer the economy so as not to overshadow our need to guide individuals in an economic moral direction.

    • Neo-Conservatives believe that capitalism creates inherent disparities and to reduce, though certainly not to eliminate, such disparities, neoconservatives support the graduated income tax, the inheritance tax, the modern welfare state, and other means by which a social “safety net” might be placed underneath society’s less-fortunate members.

Enter Donald J. Trump

  • Foreign Policy Differences:

    • Trump’s disagreement with Neo-Conservatives on foreign policy is very apparent if you have followed Trump’s campaign.  Trump is a non-interventionist unless US interests are at stake while Neo-Conservatives believe that intervention should be used to promote democracy and eradicate dictators.

    • Trump disagrees with George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq.  There were no overwhelming US self interests at stake other than a possibility that Hussein had nuclear weapons.  Bush saw Hussein as evil and sought regime change and the democratization of Iraq.

    • Trump disagrees with the whole concept of regime change and the overlay of democracy in the Middle East and elsewhere.

    • Trump and the Neo-Conservatives do agree on the need for a strong military.  But, Trump wants it as a deterrent (Reagan) while Neo-Conservatives want it for regime change (Bush).

  • Social and Economic Differences:

    • Trump differs in his support of pro-life issues versus the Neo-Conservatives hands off policy.

    • Trump and Neo-Conservatives may be closer in support of gay-marriage and LGBT issues.

    • Trump does not appear to favor Big Government and would like to scale back the Department of Education, the EPA, and the Department of Energy.  Neo-Conservatives do not necessarily dislike big government in order to balance economic/social forces.

    • Trump is “America First” on immigration issues while Neo-Conservatives are pro open border.  Trump believes in building a border wall and enforcing border integrity whereas the Neo-Conservatives do not.

    • Trump is “American First” on Visa policies for H-1x as well as for Muslim and other refugees coming into the country.  Trump favors using H-1x Visas only when we have a real shortage of US workers.  Trump favors a strong vetting process for foreign entry Visas and refugees.  Neo-Conservatives favor H-1x programs.

    • Trump supports “Fair Trade” versus “Free Trade” and supports America First policies over globalization.  Neo-Conservatives support our current “Free Trade” globalist policies.

Trump’s American Vision is quite different than that of the Neo-Conservatives, and thus is a threat to the inroads the Neo-Conservatives have made since the 1960’s! 

Ideology vs Results:  It can be argued that Irving Kristol’s and Strauss’s vision for America is not what Neo-Conservatism promised.  Today, the Middle East is a disaster thanks in a large part to the Bush interventionist policies; our loss of manufacturing jobs are a direct result of the globalist, open border Neo-Conservative vision; and much of our financial deficits can be traced to rapidly expanded social programs, under a Republican President and Congress, for both illegal immigrants and welfare recipients in this country.  Granted, Obama’s policies have been equally as disastrous to our economy and our world security as those of the Neo-Conservatives. 

View From the Kristol World: But, if you are Bill Kristol, and you see an “interloper” like Trump enter the scene with no real philosophical, pro Neo-Conservative creds, you feel that the world would cease to exist if Trump were elected. 

The policies of Hillary Clinton and the left are more aligned with the Neo-Conservatives than are those of Trump’s America First policies.  Hillary would be an interventionist, support open borders, support open H-x Visas, and bring refugees in by the droves. 


I kept hearing Bill Kristol, others from the Weekly Standard, National Review, the Bush crowd and others, saying that Donald Trump’s views were NOT Conservative even though I related Trump’s views with my views of conservatism.  (see Reagan)  It was not until researching this article that I realized that all of these wise people were touting Neo-Conservativism, an offshoot of the Democrat party, rather than traditional Conservatism that I grew up with under Goldwater and Reagan. 



Hat Tips:




Professionalism is Appreciated

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s