Nick Ragone is an author, attorney and public relations executive in New York City. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Rutgers University, and is a graduate of the Eagleton Institute of Political Science at Rutgers University (undergraduate) and the Georgetown University Law Center.

He is the author of three books: Essential American Government, Everything American Government, and President's Most Wanted. Nick is a regular contributor to the Fox News Channel and Fox Business, the PIX11 Morning Show, and has a weekly appearance on the popular Raph Bailey Radio Show.  He co-anchored PIX11's five-hour live inauguration coverage with Jim Watkins and Kaity Tong.

Nick is a contributor to Donklephant.com, one of the most influential political blogs on the web, and  has written for US News & World Report, The Star-Ledger, Real Simple Magazine and RealSimple.com.  Nick has been quoted in over two dozen stories on politics, the presidency, and public relations.  In December of 2007, Nick was named one of PR Week's 40 under 40 to watch, and in May of 2008 was featured in "Profiles of Success", a book about public relations. Nick lives in Jersey City, NJ, with his wife and two children, and spends what little free time he has obsessing on the Mets.

Nick can also be found on Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=740817853




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Bill Kristol and the NYT on the outs

The internets are all abuzz with a rumor that Bill Kristol and the New York Times are about to call in quits after only a year of dating.

Kristol was brought on as a twice weekly columnist to share the house conservative duties with David Brooks, his former partner in crime at the Weekly Standard.  It would be a shame if they part ways, but totally understandable.  I don't think either was ever quite comfortable with the relationship.

In my opinion, Kristol is consistently one of the most insightful commentators out there -- left or right. He's sort of like George Will, but not nearly as intellectually narcissistic. He rarely, if ever, parrots conventional wisdom, and isn't shy about putting the conservative movement under the microscope.

Which is what makes his involvement in the Sarah Palin debacle all the more unsettling. By way of background, it has been rumored that Kristol played a major role in convincing McCain to put Palin on the ticket. He had been publicly lobbying for her as early as last June, and made what seemed like a compelling case.  What role he played behind the scenes is uncertain, but there's little doubt that he was advocating her cause.

Flash forward six months later, and Kristol has been in full spin mode following her disastrous turn as McCain's veep.  "I met her for the second time in my life," he told the New York Observer. "I know we're supposed to be such great friends, but the truth is I've met her twice... I've spoken to her on the phone once. For all our great closeness." Sounds almost verbatim like the line McCain used on Letterman just days before election: "I didn’t know her well at all. I knew her reputation."

Here's my problem with pundits giving counsel behind the scenes:  How are we supposed to know when their public utterances are advocacy or analysis.  Was Kristol raving about Palin's convention performance because it merited rave reviews, or because he had skin in the game?   I suppose this type of thing happens with pundits more than we'd like to believe, but it's still unsettling.  With politicos-turned-talking-head like Begala and Carville and Rove and Wolfson, you know where they stand:  They're partisans before they're pundits, and they don't really hide it.  They're cheerleading as much as they're analysing, and it's understood.

Kristol and his journalist cohorts come at it differently -- or at least they're supposed to.  We're not listening to them because they're fresh out of the game like a Rove or Wolfson; we're listening because they're well informed, insightful, and can see the bigger picture.   If they have a horse in the race -- the way Kristol seems to have had with Palin -- they might as well be transparent about it.  In the long run, their credibility will be the better for it.

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