Bill Kristol Speaks at Rutgers
By Jacob Miller
On February 12th, Rutgers students, as well as many in the New Brunswick community, gathered in the Douglass Student Center to hear political commentator William "Bill" Kristol deconstruct the 2016 elections. The promotion for the event noted that Kristol has a strong record as a figure within the neo-conservative movement:
Before starting The Weekly Standard in 1995, Kristol led the Project for the Republican Future, where he helped shape the strategy that produced the 1994 Republican congressional victory. Prior to that, Kristol served as chief of staff to Vice President Dan Quayle during the first Bush Administration, and to Education Secretary William Bennett under President Reagan.
Before coming to Washington in 1985, Kristol was on the faculty of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and the Department of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania. Kristol earned his doctorate in political science at Harvard University.
The Eagleton Institute of Politics, a Rutgers organization devoted to political research, hosted the event.
Kristol's analysis was as extensive as it was thought provoking. He pointed out that while Donald Trump's election victory was likely some sort of glitch in the political system -- one that will eventually be forgotten much like Independent candidate Ross Perot's 1992 success -- it could also turn out to be very consequential. Kristol elaborated by stating that Trump will turn out to be either the "parenthesis" or "the inflection point."
Kristol went on to mention that Trump's presidency will ultimately be a good test for the strength of American political institutions such as the FBI and the military.
Kristol has consistently condemned Trump's policy proposals and rhetoric, stoking the flames of already existing divisions among those on the Right. However, left-leaning audience members at the Monday night event did not accept his anti-Trump stance as a pass. In fact, during the question and answer session, one member of the audience (to the amusement of many) asked Kristol if he was "sorry for supporting Sarah Palin in the 2008 elections." Kristol defended his original support of Palin, citing an inability to have foreseen her eventual "celebrity" style antics.
On February 28th, the Eagleton Institute will be hosting another speaking engagement with David Frum. Frum, like Kristol, is a virulent anti-Trump conservative.
Will these invitations of establishment conservatives on the part of Rutgers result in the eventual invitation of anti-establishment, Trumpist conservatives? Or are these events only, as Kristol would put it, "parentheses" and not "inflection points"?
As with most political questions, all we can really do is wait and see.