Jim covered Congress and The White House during the George W. Bush administration for The Washington Times, and worked as a reporter, editorial writer and columnist for newspapers in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and California. He has appeared on the Fox News Channel, CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, and many local and national talk radio shows to talk politics and policy.
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One does not read the editorial page of The New York Times anymore to be enlightened. It ceased being a destination for a serious, thoughtful take on the issues of the day a long time ago. But there is an almost voyeuristic entertainment value to peeking in at the absurdly childish thinking behind the paper’s current prose. It’s a little like watching “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” but you feel even stupider after the experience.
Tuesday’s Times editorial, titled “Pomp, and Little Circumstance,” is a perfect example. The lead says it all (almost):
A theatrical production of unusual pomposity will open on Wednesday when Republicans assume control of the House for the 112th Congress. A rule will be passed requiring that every bill cite its basis in the Constitution. A bill will be introduced to repeal the health care law. On Thursday, the Constitution will be read aloud in the House chamber. And in one particularly self-important flourish, the new speaker, John Boehner, arranged to have his office staff “sworn in” on Tuesday by the chief justice of the United States.
Those who had hoped to see a glimpse of the much-advertised Republican plan to revive the economy and put Americans back to work will have to wait at least until party leaders finish their Beltway insider ritual of self-glorification. Then, they may find time for governing.
So, days before the Republicans took over the House, The New York Times editorial board was ripping the yet-to-be majority for not finding time “for governing,” and scolding it for not giving Americans “a glimpse of the much-advertised” plan to “revive the economy.” A cheap, and childish, shot — right at the top. If The Times upbraided former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Obama with such snarky vigor for months of dithering while the economy tanked (due to their obsession over the cram-down of Obamacare), I must have missed it. Of course, the Republican plan for “reviving the economy” must be well known, because something that is “much advertised” is … well … known by people — even the folks on The New York Times editorial board. The snark doled out on stupid reality shows is more grounded in fact than that snit fit.
Anyway, the editorial board makes clear that it is the simple and admirable act of reading the Constitution aloud on the floor of the House — shockingly, it seems, for the first time in our nation’s history — that has The Times’ editorial board angrier than Lindsay Lohan after she’s been denied access to the VIP room at a nightclub. The paper describes it as “simply eyewash — the equivalent of a flag-draped background to a speech” (so much for patriotism). As for the new requirement that every piece of legislation cite the Constitutional power that allows it, The Times says that’s some kind of scary and “vacuous fundamentalism.”
Now, I can understand a contemptible air of disrespect for the Constitution from a reactionary liberal organ like The New York Times. The Constitution, as written by the founders, was a check on the power of a “liberal” government that defines new rights and doles them out — thus reducing our inherent liberty as free men. And, happily, this new Congress wishes to correct that slow walk toward a soft tyranny, which is becoming increasingly “hard.” So it’s no wonder The Times is upset. The Constitution, properly understood and respected, is Kryptonite to the liberal agenda.
But an editorial board for a paper as rich in tradition and prestige as The New York Times employs only people from the very best schools. I was an editorial writer for about a decade of my nearly 20 years in “mainstream” journalism. As a conservative/libertarian, my dream was to one day write for The Wall Street Journal. A liberal editorial writer’s dream is to rise to The New York Times. And, so, the “best and the brightest” collection of liberal opinion — in discussing the “self-righteous” determination of the new Republican majority to cleave future lawmaking to the Constitution — wrote this:
Certainly the Republican leadership is not trying to suggest that African-Americans still be counted as three-fifths of a person.
Seriously. I’m gobsmacked. Does this collection of folks from (certainly) elite universities, who have vast professional experience in journalism, not know the history of the “three fifths” reference in the Constitution? Are they wholly ignorant of the fact that it was a compromise to weaken the power of the Southern states, and set the institution of slavery on an untenable path? (Yes. They probably went to Ivy League schools, so this question largely answers itself.)
Clearly, the people on the editorial board of The New York Times could benefit from daily readings of the Constitution. Alas, their ears are closed — so they will continue to play a part in one of the more depressing reality shows in America.