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Bill Kristol Interesting Man, But Needs Order On Bookshelves

September 15, 2021

Over the past 18 months of this pandemic, we all have watched many media personalities conduct interviews from their homes. As such, we have been able to glimpse a part of the inside world of these men and women.

I have much enjoyed seeing what books are on the shelves of news reporters, politicos, and talking heads. I find that PBS’ Judy Woodruff has many of the same books to be found on my shelves. In fact, no one else over the past months comes closer to that count than does the NewsHour anchor.

While I truly like to learn the reading habits of others I would be less than honest to say I also note the way in which people display their books, and bring order to their shelves. I have seen some ‘fronting’ their books, others with books and pictures and the like interspersed on the shelves. Some have the books pushed all the way to the back of the shelves. Some align the bindings to the edge of the shelf, in other words, giving the books the full OCD treatment.

This brings me to the one person, who throughout the pandemic, has never once considered how his shelves appear to the public watching him speak.

I enjoy hearing from Bill Kristol. He is smart and well-rounded as a person. While not always agreeing with him I find myself usually learning something from him. I am sure, however, I could listen more intently to his views if not for the chaos that lines the shelves behind him.

Twenty minutes in his home, along with a dust rag and order would be established on the shelves. Instead, it appears he just plunks items on the shelves, shoving them in, lodging them here and there.

I am not without awareness that some of the greatest minds are best served by clutter. Without a doubt, my favorite conservative thinker, writer, and speaker is Bill Buckley, Jr. His office was always intensely messy, nothing ever piled with four neat corners showing.

I know of very few people on television that could ever match his intellectual power.  While his political point of view was often in sharp contrast to mine I was never able to stop listening to the way he spoke.  Even years later, in the occasional interview on television, I would be drawn to his slightly elitist charm and world-class intelligence.

I was in awe that someone could have such a rich and diverse vocabulary.  And use all the words in such a way that the ordinary sentence was almost poetry.  While listening to his program, Firing Line, I would learn new words for my own usage.  When was the last time anyone said that about a television program? 

But really, would it not be better if all those books were properly placed?

And so it goes.

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