In a mostly serious, spot on analysis of New York Times reporting on the Tucson shootings, P.J. O'Rourke wonders if the kind of liberalism promoted by the Times and others hasn't outlived its usefulness in our political debates.
Writing in The Weekly Standard, O'Rourke excoriates several Times writers for their obvious biases before getting to the meat of his critique:
A reaction so disproportionate and immaterial to a news story by a news organization is indicative of trouble in the body politic-trouble almost as severe as that which the Times claims the Giffords shooting indicates. I worry that in the tremors and hysteria of the Times we're seeing the sad end of liberalism.
Its passing is to be mourned, perhaps most by true conservatives. -Civilization owes a debt to liberal politics. From the Reform Act and the religious emancipation fight of the British Whigs to the American civil rights movement, liberals have in fact held positions on political high ground (though not during Clinton's exploitation of the Oklahoma City bombing). Liberals have seen government as a force for good, and sometimes it can be. World War II comes to mind. While conservatives have delighted in the free market, liberals have been there to remind us that all freedoms, including market freedoms, entail responsibilities. At the very least it can be said that we conservatives would not be so upright in our ideals if we hadn't been pushing against liberals.
But liberalism, as personified by the New York Times, became a dotty old aunt sometime during the Johnson administration. She's provincial, eccentric, and holds dull, peculiar views about the world. Still, she has our fond regard, and we visit her regularly in her nursing home otherwise known as Arts and Leisure and the Book Review. Or we did until Sunday, January 9, when she began spouting obscenities and exposing herself.
We observe in the Times a bizarre overreaction to people and things that can be construed as "antigovernment." (And all people and most things often can be so construed, e.g., the man who just got a speeding ticket.) The Times has become delusional, going from advocating big government to believing that it is the big government. Americans being somewhat disgruntled with big government, the Times imagines itself under attack from every side, even, no doubt, from within.
The kind of classical liberalism that birthed the labor movement, gave impetus to civil rights, and tried to soften the hard edges of capitalism is dead. It died in the protest movement of the late 1960's when those hostile to the American experiment supplanted liberals like Humphrey and Jackson, replacing them with Barney Frank and Dennis Kucinich types. Bred for combat with the right and completely unaware - or unconcerned - about the effects of their radical policies, the New Left has driven us over a cliff.
If indeed, that kind of liberalism is dead, they have only themselves to blame.