The Neoconspiracy Theory

AFP_20081103_p16__Sarah_Palin_and_William_KristolThis is the first in a series of occasional posts that will (time and space permitting) present some of our best-loved “conspiracy theories” for discussion. A particular favorite of mine is the “Sarah Palin as neocon sock puppet” theory.

In order to examine this particular theory in depth, we first need to define some terms. A “neoconservative” is not, as many people seem to think, simply an “uber” or “ultra”conservative. In fact, neoconservatives are not really very conservative at all. They are quite content with sweeping social programs, Big Government and massive debt as long as those help them to achieve their primary goal, which is winning elections so they can promote American exceptionalism and use the American military to export democracy by force. Neoconservatives, though generally quite secular and not inclined to military service, use both war and religion to control the populace…war because it whips up a sense of patriotism, and religion because it fosters a public fervency that helps them win elections.

One of the best-known and most influential neoconservatives in America is William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, FOX News commentator and son of Irving Kristol who was one of the founders of the modern neocon movement. Bill Kristol met Sarah Palin in 2007 when the National Review’s “conservative cruise” stopped in Alaska and some of the passengers visited the governor’s mansion. Kristol immediately saw Palin’s potential usefulness to the neocon cause, and began organizing a campaign to move her into the upper circles in Washington. From the article:

The most ardent promoter, however, was Kristol, and his enthusiasm became the talk of Alaska’s political circles. According to Simpson, Senator Stevens told her that “Kristol was really pushing Palin” in Washington before McCain picked her. Indeed, as early as June 29th, two months before McCain chose her, Kristol predicted on “Fox News Sunday” that “McCain’s going to put Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska, on the ticket.” He described her as “fantastic,” saying that she could go one-on-one against Obama in basketball, and possibly siphon off Hillary Clinton’s supporters. He pointed out that she was a “mother of five” and a reformer. “Go for the gold here with Sarah Palin,” he said. The moderator, Chris Wallace, finally had to ask Kristol, “Can we please get off Sarah Palin?”

Immediately after Palin was given the VP nod, and in the two years hence, Kristol has been a constant booster of Sarah Palin, and has written numerous articles and editorials in her praise, passionately defending her from attacks by “establishment Republicans.” This has been puzzling to many who see virtually nothing in common between Kristol, the scholarly ideologue, and Palin, the fiery populist. But it’s perfectly clear to anybody who pays attention to political history (and conspiracy theories.) In fact, the neocons have done this before: It was neocons who tapped George W. Bush and helped him reach the Oval Office, where they used him very successfully to advance their ideological goals. Now they are attempting to do the same thing with Palin, and to their delight they have found a politician with all the same raw material…military hawkishness, an aversion to travel and study, a powerful ego, a “down-home” vibe and a strong appeal to evangelical Christians. The George Bush presidency offers a disastrous template for what a Sarah Palin presidency (similarly controlled by neocon ideologues) would be like: big new social programs designed to buy votes, a ballooning of debt, a decline in international status, a killing blow to the economy and new wars opening costly military fronts in various countries.

If you liked The Bush Years, you’re going to love The Palin Years, brought to you by the same production company.

About filistro

Filistro is a Canadian writer and prairie dog who maintains burrows on both sides of the 49th parallel. Like all prairie dogs, she is keenly interested in politics and language. (Prairie dogs have been known to build organized towns the size of Maryland, and are the only furry mammal with a documented language.)
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27 Responses to The Neoconspiracy Theory

  1. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Many people forget that “neo” means “new”, not “very”.

    Certainly different from the “old” conservative, particularly Republican.

  2. Mainer says:

    Neocons as a conservative subspecies are an interestng lot. I never seem to be able to read about them and not get images of the movie the boys from Brazil but with them all looking like little Richard Nixons.

  3. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Substitute Cheney for Nixon and I’ve got a similar image.

    Nixon was assuredly NOT a neo-con. BOTH his domestic policies and his foreign policies would cause a true neo-con to absolutely shit their pants. My God! The EPA? Red China?

  4. Mainer says:

    Max you are so correct. I must shift my mental image. Neocons probably can’t see a ping pong ball with out seeing ………well red.

  5. Bart DePalma says:

    The genus neocon are a group of largely Jewish intellectuals who support a muscular foreign policy to spread democracy to authoritarian states on the Rummel theory that free peoples do not attack one another. The first generation were usually former Scoop Jackson Dems who became conservatives out of default rather than conviction after the left went isolationist after Vietnam, thus the neo. The second generation like Bill are simply establishment conservative intelligensia.

  6. filistro says:

    @Max.. Many people forget that “neo” means “new”, not “very”.

    Absolutely. And Bart has the genesis of the movement right, although I disagree that The second generation like Bill are simply establishment conservative intelligensia.

    They definitely are not “establishment.”

    The neocons have fascinated me for years, but two things about them are particularly interesting…

    1.)Their dogged belief that we can impose democracy on other countries by force. Nothing will dissuade them from this peculiar, contradictory belief. The messes in Iraq and Afghanistan haven’t even fazed them. They don’t care in the least that the Iraq war only strengthened Iran… because they want a pretext to make Iran their next target.

    2.)Their cynical contempt for the American public. Neocons believe Americans in general are so dim, you only have to push the “patriotism” and “God” buttons and you can get them to swallow anything. I think that was actually true in the past, but this is a new era with a lot more access to information. Trying to impose a Sarah Palin presidency might just be a bridge too far in the 21st century, even for the American voter. I guess we’ll soon find out.

  7. filistro says:

    @Max.. Substitute Cheney for Nixon and I’ve got a similar image.

    The Cheney factor is another interesting thing I keep runnign across when I research the neocons. Apparently they weren’t instantly attracted to George W Bush the way Kristol was to Palin. They thought W, though incurious and malleable enough to be useful for them, was too closely tied to the establsihment to serve their purposes. They actually wanted McCain to get the nomination.

    But when W chose Cheney as his VP candidate, the neocons were fully on board and threw their weight behind the Bush campaign. Once installed, Cheney was their pipeline to the Oval Office, and their key to power. By 2002, the neocons were fully in control of American foreign policy.

  8. Mainer says:

    Yes Bart it is nice to more or less be able to agree with you. But I also would question the establishment part of it. It seems to me that they have jerked the chains of just about every one and that includes the Republican or orthodox conservative construct. I’m not sure if we could identify a more cynical group that seems to have distain for just about all of us.

    These people are machinators of the first order. It is all about their little cabals engineered to promote their world view. I could at some level understand this if they had more in common in terms of family or educational back ground but if you read about the principal players they are in most ways a disparate group. Now commonalities do exist such as well educated, well off, white and I believe WASP but what after that would make this group click or make them want to go the directions they seem to want to move?

    Would it help if we attempted to identify who the players are and then hunt for a common thread? That way maybe we could decide if this particular theory holds water at least in terms of plausability.

  9. Bart DePalma says:


    The golden age of the neocons was when they joined Reagan in helping form the Reagan Doctrine. Reagan shifted from the defensive containment policy to a multi level, largely peaceful strategy for replace communism with democracy. It worked.

    George I was a “realist” and the Persian Gulf War was a reactive campaign which was ended too soon without defeating Iraq. The neocons had very little imput here.

    George II entered office with his father’s foreign policy. You may recall he campaigned opposing nation building. Dubya’s entire worldview changed after 9/11, however. At that point, he adopted a variation of the Reagan Doctrine that the best was to defeat Islamic terror is to free Islamic countries and thus dry up enemy recruiting.

    The influence of the neocons is grossly overblown. The neocons certainly did not draft Dubya. These folks only surface after the fact when a GOP president decides he needs to go on the offensive, usually in reaction to a foreign provocation or attack.

    The neocon foreign policy is hardly unique. America was founded on the idea that war and diplomacy should be used to free people. Throughout our history, that impulse has jousted with an equally strong isolationist impulse to stay out of other peoples’ business. Both have their place and the struggle goes on.

  10. Mainer says:

    Hmmmm I seem to have lost my last comment. Oh well, Bart are you sure about the neocons being Jewish? I actually thought that most were pretty WASPish. Could be wrong but if it was mostly Jewish it would move things in a certain direction.

    Dang can any one with access pull my last from the junk bin?

  11. filistro says:

    @Mainer… Would it help if we attempted to identify who the players are and then hunt for a common thread?

    I spend a lot of time trying to do this. They’re a fascinating but shadowy group, and much prefer to work invisibly behind the scense. (I’m sure Bill Kristol isn’t happy that his pushy boosting for Sarah Palin has become a matter of public scrutiny.)

    The early neocons wee mostly (as Bart points out) Jewish intellectuals… but now there is a strong WASP component as well. I don’t think religion is at all a motivator for any of these people, though. They use religion only as a tool to manipulate voters. Religion to neocons is “the opiate of the masses”… which is a quote from Karl Marx.

    Which just shows how many odd rabbit holes you find yourself tumbling into when you start researching this group… 😉

  12. Mainer,

    Dang can any one with access pull my last from the junk bin?

    Never made it to the server, sad to say.

  13. shortchain says:


    I think that’s garbage, the same kind of garbage that produced the yellow-cake forgeries.

    It may turn out to be true — but it’ll take a lot more convincing evidence before I take it seriously.

  14. Bart DePalma says:


    Given that the yellowcake report that Iraq had been asking Niger about the availability of the material was true, this story should also bear watching.

    Organizations like Wikileaks could serve a legitimate purpose if they limited their leaks to criminal acts and instances where the government is sitting on intelligence of military threats. I wonder what our intelligence community knows about the Iranian and Venezuelan military cooperation efforts that they are not saying?

  15. Bart DePalma says:

    What do you folks think of Obama literally ceding the presidential stage to Bill Clinton?

    I did not think Obama could appear any weaker than when he whined about GOP “hostage takers” forcing him to cave on Bush tax rates until he actually left the Presidential podium to Bill Clinton. Amazing. Now that Obama has managed to infuriate nearly every Dem constituency while looking like whiny child doing so, Hillary would be crazy not to find a pretext to resign in fall 2010 and allow herself to be “drafted” to launch a primary challenge.

  16. shortchain says:


    Please. The yellow-cake story was based on an obvious forgery, and you have to be a fool to repeat it as “true”.

    This story is obviously a story planted by someone using a rather dim and anti-muslim “journalist” (and note the German connection — “Die Welt” is about one tier above the junk press). The question is “why?” The point of the yellow-cake story was to create fear to provide an environment in which to go to war with Iraq. This is cut from the same cloth.

    Venezuela and Iran are not closed societies to the point where they could arrange something like this without it getting out . Do you imagine Iran or Venezuela resemble North Korea? If you do, you need to wake up.

    I’d bet a great deal that the intelligence community knows exactly where this crap comes from — and they’re laughing at the credulous fools who place any faith in it.

  17. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    A brilliant tactical move!

  18. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Last comment was on Bart’s question about Obama/Clinton.

    On the “yellowcake” story: As we know, the best way to tell a lie is to tell part of the truth. Because Bart has been seen on several occasions in exclusively male company, may we then extrapolate that Bart is gay from that fact alone?

    Bart said: “I wonder what our intelligence community knows about the Iranian and Venezuelan military cooperation efforts that they are not saying?” And I wonder what the FBI and NSA know about Bart’s gay sex life that they are not saying?

    See how quickly such innuendo and false assertion fails the TRUTH TEST, Bart?

  19. filistro says:

    @Max.. As we know, the best way to tell a lie is to tell part of the truth.

    Whenever we hear one of these rumors designed to make Americans feel bellicose and jittery about an “enemy”.. “did you hear that”, “what do you think of”, “rumor has it”, “people are saying”,”I read somewhere”.… followed by yet another story about some foreign power posing a threat to America and needing to be “dealt with”… EVERY TIME this happens… somewhere on deep, deep background, some neocon has been busily at work.

  20. dcpetterson says:


    EVERY TIME this happens… somewhere on deep, deep background, some neocon has been busily at work.

    And every time Bart posts his paranoid nonsense, somewhere a little child dies.

    This is the value of the “conspiracy theory” meme. Just enough of them are true — and the false ones contain just enough elements of truth — to make the most absurd idiocies believable (ex: Iraq’s WMD’s, Iranian missiles in Venezuela). Enough fear can be generated to excuse the most incredible and arrogant abuses of power (8 years of Bush 2, followed by two years of Republican obstructionism).

    Yet enough of the conspiracy theories are false, or enough elements can be faked and added into true stories, to encourage people to turn away from where the real conspiracies are. We never did find out who forged the memos about Bush’s military service that led to the firing of Dan Rather and the re-election of George Bush, did we? Even though the substance of those clumsily-forged memos was absolutely true? (Honestly, those memos were so obviously faked, no one can possibly doubt that they were intended to be revealed as a forgery, so as to discredit Mr. Rather.)

    The whole disinformation double-think secret shadow government concept is a fascinating and really scary place. And they intentionally use planted conspiracy theories — or planted evidence embedded within real events — to keep people from finding out what they’re really doing. And even to make us afraid of being paranoid.

  21. Mainer says:

    Ok back to the original premise here after yet again Bart tries to take the air out of a discussion. Now Bart could be right that the neocons have less power going in than is some times thought……..maybe. Bart is more likely right that the neocons are very opportunistic and are quick to grab a president looking for direction. So why most likely George Bush and probably not Sarah Palin?

    Well lets think about what a perfect presidential puppet would look and act like. You would want some one with high likability and low lighteningrod numbers if such a thing exists. Gorge Bush ws perfect Sarah not so much on either. He had governed a large state, had a business back ground (ok checkered but it was there) and came from a good family name again Bush scores better than Sarah. Hey it is as easily plausible that George Bush got the nomination and even the election first time around as a sop to his father as it was any thing he did. But maybe the two big things he had going for him was being likable and being maleable born of his lack of curiosity and after every thing the one thing about George was that he was if nothing else predictable. So Sarah is what unprecictable and a lose gun? Maleable and lacking in curiosity yes, yes to a fault. But who is going to want to hang their hat on a loose wheel. No Sarah is not the product of some complex neocon plot more likely she is the result of some neocon wet dream. I mean come on has any body ever seen Mr. Kristol standing in the presence of Sarah? Out from behind a desk, not hunched behind a computer?

  22. drfunguy says:

    ” Reagan shifted from the defensive containment policy to a multi level, largely peaceful strategy for replace communism with democracy.”

    Largely peaceful? Funding death squads in El Salvador and Nicaragua?
    No objections to the Guatamalan Army using their helicopter gunships to murder civilians fleeing their country in Mexico? Etc.
    I’d hate to see your idea of a violent foreign policy.

  23. Number Seven says:

    Want some fun? Check out this link Palin As President

    Just don’t touch the Red Phone…

  24. Number Seven says:

    Crud, didn’t work.

    Palin As President

    If that don’t work,

  25. Gainsbourg69 says:

    The neo-cons have not lost their power. They are still very much in control of the republican party and it’s propaganda aparatus. Just look at Citizen’s United vs FCC and Karl Rove completely side stepping Michael Steele. They may have wanted to distance themselves from the GOP because they were labeled the republicans who helped Bush spend like a liberal, but there they are again calling the shots like nothing happened while the teabaggers keep their traps shut.

  26. Pingback: Conspiracy Theory Detector | 538 Refugees

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