From: Bill Kristol
To: Scott Jenkins,
Subject: Donuts, Populists, and More
Date: Mon Apr 07 15:46:04 MDT 2014
April 7th
Your weekly newsletter direct from the keyboard of Bill Kristol, featuring timely observations and reflections.

Justice has prevailed, merit has been rewarded, the right order of things has been vindicated: I've apparently won The Weekly Standard NCAA bracket. Needless to say, no one had either UConn or Kentucky in the final game, but I had Connecticut going pretty far, and enough other random and lucky picks to eke out a victory.

But I now have a dilemma. A friend savvy in the way of office politics emailed that when the "boss" wins the pool, he really has to do something nice for his colleagues like bring in donuts for everyone. I see the case for it…but I'm not sure. I don't want to lapse back into the spirit of now-discredited compassionate conservatism. Surely I shouldn't encourage dependency among the undeserving 97 percent? We can't have the makers subsidizing all the takers! On the other hand, bringing the donuts to the office would reward work, which we conservatives have been spending a lot of time thinking about how to do

It's a tough call. But since I'm on the road this week and don't have to make the momentous donut decision until next weekend, I have time to get your guidance. Crowd-sourcing! A virtual shark tank! I await your verdict. Let me know at



Today's conservatism should be reasonably populist. A populist conservatism is right for the times—the people are in many ways healthier than our elites. A reasonably and reasonable populist conservatism is also a winning conservatism in today's America.

So I'm happy to see a new $3 million ad campaign from the Koch-affiliated Freedom Partners highlighting how several Democratic Senate candidates claim to stand up to health insurance companies, but then take those companies’ campaign donations and support Obamacare—a law that greatly benefits those companies’ bottom lines. Here are the versions of the ads that will run in Iowa and Colorado beginning tomorrow.  

It's good to take on the Democrats' crony capitalism. It's especially important because, with the failures of Obamacare, the last two talking points of the Democrats who voted for it are1) the Republicans just want to go back to the status quo ante, and 2) the Republicans are apologists for the insurance companies, while Democrats are standing up to them (this is the message of ads from Harry Reid's super PAC.) The first charge can be answered by embracing a better alternative to Obamacare that's also a big improvement on the pre-Obamacare situation [link to this weeks edit]. The second attack can be handled, at least in part, by pointing out the extent to which the insurance companies are in bed with the Democrats. But to really flip the argument and make the Democrats the party of Big Government and Big Business, Republicans in Congress should move on legislation proposed by Sen. Marco Rubio to remove the possible bailout for the insurance companies now in Obamacare. Let the Democrats defend an Obamacare taxpayer bailout for the insurance companies who worked hand-in-hand with the Obama Administration as they crafted Obamacare and its provisions that include billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies and built-in protections to ensure health insurance companies are reimbursed for losses.



Two spectacular articles well worth reading:

One is Harvey Mansfield's thought-provoking review in the new issue of the Claremont Review of Books of Yuval Levin's excellent book, "The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left." Mansfield raises questions about America, about conservatism, and about politics—as well as about Burke and Paine—that are, to say the least, well worth considering.

The other is Jay Lefkowitz's fascinating piece in the new Commentary on "The Rise of Social Orthodoxy". Lefkowitz's discussion of Modern Orthodox Judaism will be of great interest to all those concerned with the state of Judaism in America, but will help stimulate among non-Jews as well serious reflection on the state of religious belief and practice in today's America.


Until next week—onward!

Bill Kristol

P.S.— Please do send along your thoughts and tips to


From This Issue


Apr 14, 2014

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe & Save

  • Conservative Intelligence
  • Satirical Wit
  • Foreign Policy Insight
  • Sophisticated Perspective
  • Much more...