Kristol once described himself as "a liberal who has been mugged by reality." A self-styled "Trotskyist" in City College in the 1930s (who in City College's student body of the 1930s wasn't?), Kristol began reading folks like Niebuhr who expressed pessimism about the human capacity to operate under such idealistic systems as socialism and pacifism. With the rise of the Great Society, Kristol became an ardent advocate of conservative principles, including a robust American military to project power in support of democracy and monetarist and supply-side economics to promote growth over the equilibrium favored by the then-reigning Keneysianism.
Having drunk occasionaly from Kristol's prodigious well in the past, we appreciate his remark quoted first in a collection of quotables in Kristol's columns for WSJ, one especially timely in this moment of debate about healthcare reform:
"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. . . .