There was a time–the turn of the 1990s, to be precise–when the Republican Party offered solutions … In many cases, their solutions were superior to the Democratic brand–the individual mandate was, and is, superior to the then-Democratic solution of an employer mandate; cap-and-trade was a good way to handle pollutants (though not so good as a straight-up, but refundable, carbon tax); choice and market-incentives were, and are, good ways to deal with our desultory educational system. Republicans and moderate Democrats, led by Bill Clinton, came to a humane solution to an immoral welfare system (and should finish the work now, by carefully reforming Social Security disability payments). If I remember correctly, Kristol was part of that conversation.
His turning point came when he advised Republicans to oppose the Clinton health care plan on purely tactical grounds–he didn’t want Clinton to win the political victory that reform would represent. And yet, he refused to propose an alternative.
He didn’t even support the Republican alternative. He has led the GOP nihilist caucus ever since–except when it comes to warmongering, where he is an uninflected and unmitigated hawk. And so it is entirely predictable, and sad, that Kristol’s idea of a forward-looking campaign is a combination of aggression overseas and nihilism at home. I still believe a Romney win is entirely possible, if less likely, this November, but he will have a difficult time winning, and an impossible time governing, with Kristol’s cocktail of aggression overseas and nihilism at home.