Daniel Koffler on Kristol:

...it's true that throwing up a wall of bullshit to deflect attention from your candidate's deeply unpopular views is a potentially effective means of helping him creep to victory on the strength of contentless non-issues --- like, say, whether his opponent is an insufficiently patriotic crypto-Communist. But to conclude that's all Kristol is up to doesn't give him nearly enough credit for a long-term vision, at least when it comes to tactical moves in the Republican party's internal turf wars. Campaigning on xenophobia, guilt by association, and red-baiting has desperate and unintentionally self-parodic qualities this year that it didn't have as recently as 2004. The likelihood is that John McCain will lose; if and when he loses, the multilateral truce among neos, paleos, reformists, and GOP hacks --- which is about as fragile as the truce in Basra to begin with --- is going to shatter before Obama's victory speech ends.

The neocons are in a decidedly weak position. Fairly or not, it's their foreign policy more than anything else that has made the name of the GOP radioactive --- and even worse for Republican partisans, has destroyed the party's nearly 40-year-old, frequently decisive advantage on national security. And though the Republicans somehow stumbled into nominating their only candidate with a prayer of victory, they exposed the neocons to even more risk by choosing, in John McCain, the most prominent exponent of their philosophy in American politics. Honest neocons like Lawrence Kaplan readily concede that neoconservatism's future rests on McCain's shoulders. Kristol, on the other hand, is trying to reframe the debate to obscure its ramifications for his ideology in case McCain loses.

John Schwenkle responds here.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.