My latest for the New Ledger:
Irving Kristol loved ideas.
He played with them, adapted them, argued with them, accepted, then rejected them, and advocated fiercely and eloquently for the ideas that ultimately passed muster with him. Politics and political life is oft-attacked for being bereft of ideas, but with Irving Kristol around, intellect always got its moment–and then some–in political circles. Blessed with a formidable brain and the drive to use his mental gifts to the greatest degree possible, Kristol imparted to his fellow conservatives–and especially, to the neoconservatives for whom he was a founding father–the importance and significance of ideas. He was supremely adept at holding his own and advancing his arguments in any philosophical discussion, a master at turning out the clever and memorable phrase, and a force of nature with the written word in particular. The many magazines and journals he started, the long shadow he cast over the debates in which he participated, the movement that owes so much to his leadership, all of these things stand as eternal intellectual memorials to a man who was an engaged intellectual in the very best sense of the phrase.
It is so very revealing, and melancholy, that on the day Irving Kristol passed away, a tongue-wagging Glenn Beck stares at us from the cover of Time magazine. Ah, for a return to simpler, more civil times.
I second that emotion. I also third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh it.