FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 2003
HIS MASTERS VOICE: We agree with some of the things Nicholas Kristof said in his Wednesday New York Times column. For example, we certainly (tend to) agree with his opening paragraph:
KRISTOF: Considering the savagery with which the Snarling Right excoriated President Clinton as a sociopath, blocked judicial appointments, undermined U.S. military operations from Kosovo to Iraq, hounded Vincent Foster and then accused the Clintons of murdering him, it is utterly hypocritical for conservatives to complain about liberal incivility.In general, we agree with that point. (Not all conservatives acted that way.) But then, we agree with other things Kristof says. We agree that American politics is becoming unpleasantly (and stupidly) polarized. And we agree that [s]ince Americans are three times as likely to believe in the virgin birth of Jesus as in evolution, liberal derision for President Bushs religious beliefs risks marginalizing the left.
But Kristof makes a familiar point which needs to be challenged once again. Liberals have now become as intemperate as conservatives, he writes. His proof? Needless to say, Kristof cites the foolish piece in which Jonathan Chait announced his Bush-hatred. But Kristof, scrounging hard for proof, is soon forced to fall back on this foofaw:
KRISTOF: I see the fury in my e-mail messages. In a fairly typical comment, one reader suggested that President Bush and his aides are lying, cynical greedy pirates who deserve no better than a firing squad. At this rate, soon well all be so rabid that Ann Coulter will seem normal.How does Kristof know that libs are as bad as those cons? He knows it from reading his e-mails! Were sorry, but this just wont do.
We wouldnt suggest that you spend your time saying that cons are worse than libs. But remember what we have noted before: It wasnt everyday people, writing e-mails, who pushed those murder lists against Clinton. It was well-known public figures who peddled those lists, and they were invited to do so on national TV. Similarly, it wasnt a random bunch of e-mailers who kept trying to prove that Clinton killed Foster. It was major Republicanscan you say Ken Starr?who engaged in this endless political porn. As they did so, good guy pundits hid beneath desks, too scared to condemn their behavior.
Are todays liberals as bad as those cons? Unless you simply enjoy propaganda, the answer quite plainly is no. Have you seen Bush murder lists on TV? Have you seen a major religious figure selling tapes which call Bush a serial killer? Have you seen a succession of high-profile probes trying to show that Bush killed his best friend? In short, have you seen anything like the wave of insanity that typified the Clinton-Gore years?
No, you havent; those eight years were special. But during those years, pundits like Kristof hid beneath desks, silent, trembling, quaking with fear. Now Kristof complainsabout naughty libs, claiming theyre as bad as those cons. He gets a few e-mails from fist-waving liberals, and Kristof suddenly finds his voice. Silent then, complaining now: In that odd progression of events, you see the strange shape of an era.
Sorry. No public liberal resembles Ann Coulter, and nothing like the hounding of Clinton has yet been aimed at President Bush. That Clinton era was uniquely deranged. Why cant Nick Kristof just say it?
POISONING IVINS: How far will Kristof go to prove that libs are just as bad as those cons? Heres the full passage offering proof:
KRISTOF: [I]t used to be just the Republicans who were intense in their beliefs, while now both sides are frothing.In short, before he begins to quote his e-mails, Kristof cites two published examples of the Bush-hatred. He cites Chaits piece in the New Republic. He also cites that other columnthe one in the Progressive.
But the Progressive piece aint what it seems. In this mornings Times, Progressive editor Matthew Rothschild quotes what its author, Molly Ivins, really said. It is not necessary to hate George W. Bush to think hes a bad President, Ivins wrote. Grownups can do that, you know. You can decide someones policies are a miserable failure without lying awake at night consumed with hatred. But thats the column Kristof quotes to prove that Those Liberals Today just hate Bush! Liberals have now become as intemperate as conservatives? Incredibly, Kristof offers Ivins column as proof!
In fact, an alternate version of Ivins piece appeared in papers across the country (including the Washington Post). Heres a hunk of what she wrote:
IVINS: Over many years of covering politics, I have known and liked a lot of politicians with whom I never agreed about a single thing. Bob Dole and Alan Simpson come to mind as two of my favorite Republicans, and I could list Texas conservatives by the dozens.In short, Ivins wrote a column to complain when David Brooks called her a Bush-hater in the Times. Amazingly, Kristof cites that very column to show how todays liberals hate Bush!
Are todays liberals much like Ann Coulter? Molly Ivins is Kristofs example! If theres something wrong with liberals today, Kristof could have said what it was. But you live at a time of deceit and deception. Kristof wanted to type a prime RNC lineand was willing to play you to do it.
THE CHAIT AWARD: Meanwhile, give the Chait Award to Progressive ed Rothschild. He put a Bush-hater headline on Ivins piecealthough she was making the opposite point. He gave his readers a small, pointless thrilland a piece of propaganda to Kristof.