"History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it."-Winston S. Churchill

"The wandering scholars were bound by no lasting loyalties, were attached by no sentiment of patriotism to the states they served and were not restricted by any feeling of ancient chivalry. They proposed and carried out schemes of the blackest treachery."-C.P. Fitzgerald.

Saturday, February 07, 2004

David Brooks' Column... 

....in this morning's New York Times proves once again why Bill Keller's decision to hire the former National Review columnist was a masterstroke of Editorial page management. This damning column, so filled with faint praise for Democratic frontrunner John Kerry, is a searing indictment of Kerry as a dimestore phony who rails against "Special Interests" on the one hand while taking special interest money on the other hand (such as $10,000 in Chinese People's Liberation Army swag raised by our old friend, Johnny Chung). But it is done with a curiously soft touch that only adds to Brooks' newfound reputation as the best writer on the Times' Op-Ed page.

Bill Keller, the Managing Editor of the Times, has a self-confidence that his predecessor, Howell Raines, lacked. Raines turned the Times, and its world-famous Op-Ed page, into a soapbox for Raines' pet issues (such as his obsession with Augusta National). Reading the Op-Ed page during the Raines Era was like watching a train crewed by the Devil and his Minions plough into a station wagon filled with innocent Girl Scouts in very slow motion.

One could observe Paul Krugman's increasingly frustrated search for the Great Whale of Scandal that would undo the very core of the Bush Administration. Krugman's obsessive hatred of Bush was but a mere reflection of the tragedy that occurs when an academic loses the "fruit cup or carrot cake" battle during the planning for the annual Faculty Luncheon. Bob Herbert, who occupied the Harry Belafonte Chair on the Op-Ed page, never ceased to remind his readers that George Bush and the Republican Party were just two crossbeams, a can of kerosene, and a couple of burlap bags short of a decent cross-burning. Frank Rich, the Times former theater critic-and a man responsible for more unemployment in the New York Theater community than he might care to admit-remained what he was: a theater critic giving voice to the Upper West Side's take on Amerikkka. Finally, one could follow Maureen Dowd's descent into madness, a consequence of her loathing of George Walker Bush and her intense jealously of his wife, Laura. The inconsequential flightiness and breezy condescension of a Dowd Column became legendary among bloggers on the right. For Dowd, wordplay and sentence structure was a substitute for rational argument.

Only Bill Safire, light unto the nations, remained as the Wandering Jew in the Darkness.

All of this was tolerated, nay, encouraged by Howell Raines. And it would have remained that way had Jayson Blair not happened on the scene to embarrass Raines and drive him from the throne. After an interregnum, Bill Keller was chosen as the replacement, and he knew that he needed to bring in a conservative voice to the page. He chose David Brooks. The rest is history. Keller is a dyed-in-the-wool liberal, by the way, but at least he had the intellectual courage to go looking outside the shop for some new blood, and new thinking.

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