You’ll Get a Kick Out of This, Maybe

Via Tbogg — Paul Campos quoting Harry Hopkins:

“I remember back in the late 1990s, when Ira Katznelson, an eminent political scientist at Columbia, came to deliver a guest lecture. Prof. Katznelson described a lunch he had with Irving Kristol during the first Bush administration.

“The talk turned to William Kristol, then Dan Quayle’s chief of staff, and how he got his start in politics. Irving recalled how he talked to his friend Harvey Mansfield at Harvard, who secured William a place there as both an undergrad and graduate student; how he talked to Pat Moynihan, then Nixon’s domestic policy adviser, and got William an internship at the White House; how he talked to friends at the RNC [Republican National Committee] and secured a job for William after he got his Harvard Ph.D.; and how he arranged with still more friends for William to teach at Penn and the Kennedy School of Government.

“With that, Prof. Katznelson recalled, he then asked Irving what he thought of affirmative action. ‘I oppose it,’ Irving replied. ‘It subverts meritocracy.’ ”

20 thoughts on “You’ll Get a Kick Out of This, Maybe

  1. I love it. There is. afterall, something to be said for the anecdote – short, sweet and easy to remember. (Lincoln said that a speech like “Four score and seven…” usually took him two weeks to write whereas a one-hour speech took him two hours to write.)

  2. Well that’s how conservatives think, affirmative action is the government picking winners and losers, the old boy network is just the way things are supposed to work. See one method assures the positions of power will stay in the “family”, the other opens up opportunity to the masses that is unacceptable. Who’s gonna mop the floors and make the beds for christ sake?

    Sort of unrelated, I’ve decided after watching, reading and listening to the wing-nut responses about president Carter’s “race” remarks that anyone who utters the phrase “playing the race card” is in fact a racist.

  3. I’ve observed among conservatives that loyalty trumps competence. It’s true whether we’re talking about various Republican administrations or the Mafia or a despised authoritarian boss. Loyalty is everything. And when this happens, you get people like Kristol who wouldn’t know meritocracy from a mudpie, but who think they’re entitled – they merit – everything that comes their way. This is their notion of meritocracy – it really means they think they’re superior to everyone else.

  4. Lovely story – I believe it – after all for how long did the “bluebloods” of such universities as Harvard, Yale, and many other private universities – admit many students who were “legacies” – money talks – still does but to a somewhat lesser degree.
    Meritocrary – is in the eye of the beholder

  5. This type of “pull” is one of the many arguments that I have with economics. This makes perfectly clear that “perfect markets” are total nonsense.

    Other gripes about economics:

    Almost none of them even mention that the black markets exist in all countries, not just the impoverished ones. I’ve only seen a couple of studies of black market activity in the US, but is above 10 per cent of the GDP.

    None of them attempt to account for the enormous amounts of money that are extorted by the Mafia. They don’t ever try to track down where this money goes.
    It is a huge amount. In the early 70s, I was stationed on a military base in New York. I ran errands for the “mob.” I worked as the relief bookkeeper for the numbers racket. I could make more than a month’s military pay for each night. I ran figures that were above $500,000 per day of pure profit. This has not stopped.

    One simple fact of life is that historically the rich thieves have always put their money into land and lending to the government. In the economists pretend world this money is efficiently reinvested, when in fact it goes to totally nonproductive ends.

    No economist will ever admit that economics is no better than the Roman soothsayers, who predicted the future based on the guts of dead animals.

    Boy, I’ve really gone off topic. Well, it is not a perfect world. In a perfect world parasites like the Kristol kid would be strangled at birth.

  6. You mean meritocracy doesn’t mean getting ahead by family connections?

    And is it true that they’re not allowed out when they’re grounded?

  7. Well, thank God young William didn’t have to suffer the trauma of having to compete in the work place cesspool of racial minorities. If it hadn’t been for dad’s gentle hand in opening a few doors, young William never would have blossomed into the fine specimen of a neo-conservative he is today.

    His milky white skin, and the mantle of his father’s name attests before nature of his deservedness in opportunity above that of the common dark skinned low life.

    Yo no soy digno?

  8. Two snaps and a bag of chips!!
    The fundamental irony of the meritocracy comment is the true talent of the recipients of the government type. I believe that Sonia Sotomayor was a recipient, and we can see the results of the government-style action.

    Now the “Old Boys” type of legacy, well we have Bill Kristol (check out this classic from a couple of years ago).

  9. BuzzMon, do you recall a bit of lit that refers to “the past is prelude…”? I seem to recall it from English Lit of the 1800’s. Kristol the younger need not Google it for himself, though, as he seems to be living it. Thanks for that link. It was such a reminder that there are evidently no consequences for failure among the cloud-dwellers of our society — oops, I meant economy!

  10. evil is evil – you’ll appreciate this quote, “An economist is a guy who can’t tell you tomorrow why what he predicted yesterday didn’t happen today.”

  11. Hmmmm…subverts meritocracy? Like Jr.’s coathangar-branding coast through Yale? Funny how these conservative “personal accountability” types exhibit so few of their own lauded values of dedication, hard work, sacrifice and accountability.

    I’d add Jonah Goldberg to this list of notorious Daddy’s boys if he weren’t such a Mama’s boy.

    We get what we deserve and who we vote for as well… These wise men, American heroes all. LOL.

  12. Strangled at birth ?

    I’d settle for enlisting in the military at 18 but Daddy would probably intercede and pay for a somewhat more cushy Outward Bound program to help these little softees find themselves. Their flops are even more notable considering the ways they managed to go straight to the head of the class.

    …or maybe social work amongst darker complected people or in socially and economically devestated birther-leaning white communities so they could get to know what they write about first hand. How about hard physical labor that would put some callouses on their hands as opposed to their hearts?

    How Daddy could have better helped Jr. would make a great top 10 list.

  13. Uh-oh, I’m blogificating again but…

    I’ve decided after watching, reading and listening to the wing-nut responses about president Carter’s “race” remarks that anyone who utters the phrase “playing the race card” is in fact a racist.

    Observant. They deal in thinly-veiled innuendo, silent dog whistles and euphemism. This is n rhetorical landscape that remains fertile only when others can be cowed into not calling them on it, on account of some inherent fair-mindedness. Their response is that calling them on what they are doing is worse because it is direct and explicit.

    Just remember that they mock any sense of fairness as weakness and must therefore be shown unrelenting strength and sense of purpose.

  14. Check out Russ Baker’s book, “Family of secrets” ( ) and you’ll see it was exactly the same story with George Bush Junior. He never accomplished a single thing by himself in his life, without Poppy picking up the phone to some crony and lining up some cushy job for Junior the idiot son. Oh and did you know Bush Senior was in Dallas on November 22 1963, and lied to the FBI about it? But I digress. It’s a fascinating book, you must read it.

  15. At least in sports, you have to, for the most part, earn your place.
    Yogi Berra’s sons were ok ballplayers, but not very good – and certainly not great.
    If Babe Ruth had had a son, I’m sure someone would have signed his to see what he could do.
    There are only a few examples of sons and grandsons playing the same sport.
    In movies and politics, you can have NO talent whatsoever, and still count on a hefty paycheck. Witness, the sons of Martin Sheen, Irving Kristol and George H. W Bush.
    Irving Kristol was a piece of crap. Both as a writer, and as an intellectual. And maybe, on his death, his son Bill will realize that he’s too dim to even sniff his Dad’s tainted jockstrap. Nah, won’t happen – what kind of an idiot turns down 6-figure jobs in a near depression? Bill? Even he’s not THAT stupid!
    Nah, what else would this untalented, waste of oxygen do to eat? The mens rooms at airports are too full of Republican politicans to earn Ol’ Bill a living. Besides, knowing how dumb this MFer is, it’ll take weeks to explaining that cocking a suck is not the way to make anyone happy…

  16. Campos used to believe in the myth that “America, after all, is a meritocracy, not an aristocracy.” Unfortunately he fails to conclude from the very example he cites that America has been an oligarchy practically from its inception.

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