Indeed, as Sept. 11 did not result in a much-feared (by intellectuals) wave of popular Islamophobia or xenophobia, so the market crash has resulted in remarkably little popular hysteria or scapegoating.The reason he brings this up is, quite honestly, a little mystifying to me. I guess the point is that intellectuals aren't always right, so we should embrace this vulgarization (even though Kristol can't seem to decide on if it exists or not). However, I think it is pretty absurd to argue that the post-9/11 era has been without heightened levels of animosity toward Muslims and those who might look like Muslims. What society is he observing? There are too many accounts of people objecting, with anger, that Barak Obama is a Muslim and/or Ay-rab. There are too many McCain supporters drumming up the non-issue of Barack Obama's middle name. Sure we didn't intern Muslim-Americans, but that is a credit to our moderate progression since earlier times, not evidence of a lack of widespread xenophobia.
Kristol also stipulates that politics in democracy are always "vulgar," pointing out, rather pedantically, that fellow conservative journalist over at the Journal Peggy Noonan was wrong when stating that Sarah Palin's candidacy is symptomatic of a "new vulgarization" of US politics. What Noonan explains, and quite effectively at that, is that Palin represents the final shift to vapid down-homeyness. Beginning with all prestige and no "vulgus" appeal, to a delicate mixture, to Bush (whether he retained any prestige is hard to determine), to finally Palin, the quintessential no experience, plenty of twang candidate.
Noonan is correct in pointing out that Palin brings absolutely nothing to the ticket save for that intriguing one moment disappointing the next colloquilism. Saying "maverick" and "hockey" and "folks" doesn't make you qualified, and that's just about all Palin has. For crying outloud, Sen. McCain, on his awkward Letterman appearance, cited Palin's experience on the PTA when listing off her three life accomplishments. This is laughable: how many presidential and vice-presidential candidates have been on the PTA? I'd be willing to bet lots, but you never heard of it as evidence of experience until 2008. I think that simple fact reveals a lot about just how much Palin is lacking.