Has William Kristol seen the light?

After my long absence from thinkPOP, I return this morning with a take from William Kristol in the NY Times. Anyone that has read thinkPOP knows I usually disagree deeply with Kristol, but this week he seems to have seen the light on a new way forward for conservatives and the GOP, my favorite passage:

I don’t pretend to know just what has to be done. But I suspect that free-marketers need to be less doctrinaire and less simple-mindedly utility-maximizing, and that they should depend less on abstract econometric models. I think they’ll have to take much more seriously the task of thinking through what are the right rules of the road for both the private and public sectors. They’ll have to figure out what institutional barriers and what monetary, fiscal and legal guardrails are needed for the accountability, transparency and responsibility that allow free markets to work.

And I don’t see why conservatives ought to defend a system that permits securitizing mortgages (or car loans) in a way that seems to make the lenders almost unaccountable for the risk while spreading it, toxically, everywhere else. I don’t see why a commitment to free markets requires permitting banks or bank-like institutions to leverage their assets at 30 to 1. There’s nothing conservative about letting free markets degenerate into something close to Karl Marx’s vision of an atomizing, irresponsible and self-devouring capitalism.

If this is the beginning of a new conservative moderation on the political landscape, I for one will welcome it.

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