Synagogue invites Kristol to speak |

Synagogue invites Kristol to speak

It’s an unusual time in history, according to Weekly Standard editor and founder William Kristol.

For starters, the world has changed significantly since 9/11, with "threats and dangers different from the Cold War and Different from the 1990s," he explains. The Republicans lost Congress in 2006. The presidential campaigns, Republican and Democrat are wide open, he says, noting that the 2008 election marks the first time since 1952, that neither an incumbent vice president nor president has entered a bid for the post.

"Whether in Iraq or presidential races — this is a unique moment we have," he stressed in a phone interview with The Park Record. "People get so wrapped up in the day-to-day stuff that we don’t step back and say, ‘gee this is really an unusual time in the country’s recent history."

Accordingly, the Republican pundit, frequent guest of Fox News Channel’s program "Fox News Sunday" and author of a regular Time magazine column and the book, "The War Over Iraq: Saddam’s Tyranny and America’s Mission," will not dwell on the past, as much as he will focus on the present as he speaks with Park City residents Thursday.

Temple Har Shalom’s "Distinguished Speaker Series," has invited Kristol to share his perspective on politics and especially the Middle East.

"We look for someone that has some connection to something that our congregation is interested in and William Kristol has been an observer of Middle East affairs and has been influential as an opinion-setter in terms of Middle East affairs and so that’s kind of why we chose him," explains the synagogue’s rabbi, Joshua Aaronson.

Kristol is a founding member and contributor for the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and advocate of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

The organization’s Web site states that the PNAC is dedicated to the proposition "that American leadership is good both for America and for the world; and that such leadership requires military strength, diplomatic energy and commitment to moral principle."

Kristol taught at his alma mater Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. His early career in the United States government has its beginnings in 1985, when he served as chief of staff to Secretary of Education William Bennett during the Reagan Administration, and then chief of staff to Vice President Dan Quayle, under the first President Bush.

In light of the Democratic Party’s recent gains in the U.S. House and Senate, one of the points Kristol plans to emphasize during next week’s discussion of this singular time in history, is that the stakes are high for this next presidential campaign.

"What’s at stake in 2008 is not only the presidency, it turns out it’s also Congress," he says. "And then there are the Supreme Court seats that the next president will probably fill. So in a way, it’s all three branches of government that are at stake it’s unusual."

Though Democrats have a tenuous majority in the senate, if Republicans are to recover sway on Capitol Hill, Kristol stresses the party will need to secure the presidency. If a Democrat wins the presidency, they’re very likely to maintain hold over the senate and almost certainly continue to hold the house, he says.

As for which Republican candidate will win the party’s primary, thus far, he’s unwilling to choose between the front-runners. All are "impressive people with lots of experience, real achievements, interesting human beings," he says.

Kristol met with Massachusetts Governor and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on several occasions, and recently had lunch with the governor’s campaign manager.

Though there has yet to be a Mormon president, Kristol refutes the idea that Romney’s ties to the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter-Day Saints will negatively impact his chances.

"I just don’t think voters vote on religion that much," he argues. "I’m Jewish , Joe Lieberman’s Jewish and it didn’t seem to affect support for him. I think people vote on values, policies or whether they respect the individual, whether they agree with people."

Aaronson says that he looks forward to hearing Kristol’s contribution to the diverse Spring lineup on the Temple’s schedule. This march, via interactive satellite broadcast from the company "Live from NY’s 92nd Street Y," Temple Har Shalom has featured Hillary Clinton, and in a few weeks will invite philanthropist and political activist George Soros.

The synagogue’s live speaker slate has been known to draw as many as 150 guests, according to the rabbi.

"As a not-for-profit religious institution, we don’t endorse or support any specific political point of view or any candidate — we want to open dialogue, and we welcome Mr. Kristol, we respect his views," he said. "Our membership represents a wide spectrum of people with a whole variety of views on the Middle East and the war in Iraq.

"We want everyone to talk about it, and we believe the free exchange of ideas. We think it’s going to be an evening of vigorous discussion and we hope that everyone will come out."

Kristol will speak about "The New World: World Affairs and Changes in the Middle East" on Thursday, March 15th at 7:30 p.m. at Prospector Square Lodge and Conference Center. Tickets are $36 each for VIP reserved seating, and $18 for general seating. Tickets can be reserved and purchased by calling 649-2276. Temple Har Shalom’s Distinguished Speaker Series is sponsored by the Fields Family Fund promoting adult Jewish education and cultural programming.

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