Conspiracy theorists at the Times

The left wingers on the op—ed page of the New York Times are becoming unhinged.   Frank Rich today joins Paul Krugman in articulating conspiracy theories to explain the success of the political movement backing President Bush.

You see, in Rich's view, a campaign has been orchestrated to make John Kerry look like a girlie—man, an absurd distortion of his actual life as a rugged, manly, independent, can—do, straight—shooting man of the people, who coincidentally married two women at the receiving end of hundreds of millions of dollars earned by other men. Rich says of Kerry's girlie—man image

It must be Karl Rove's fault, or Fox's, or a lack of diligence from the non—Fox press.

There you have it: naked paranoia. It is simply impossible for independent—minded people to come to a conclusion differing from Frank Rich's opinions. The only possible explanation is that evil forces have conspired in secret, and their influence is vast. Look it up under paranoia.

Having taken delight in my own role as one of those ridiculing John Kerry, on this website and as a weekly co—host of Lucianne Goldberg's former syndicated radio talk show, I find the notion that Karl Rove, Rupert Murdoch, Halliburton, or Satan himself gave me marching orders simply nutty.

Ahem, Frank, we here on the right are an independent lot who believe in...well...liberty. And personal responsibility. If Karl Rove called to give me orders, I wouldn't believe it was him calling, for at least half an hour. I would accuse him of being a mischievous friend, impersonating Rove. Even if I believed him, I wouldn't necessarily do what he asked.

On Planet Rich, the dubbing of Kerry, who has said that he and Teresa speak French with each other over breakfast, as French—looking is secret right wing code for 'faggy' (his word, not mine). Interestingly enough, Mr. Rich sees a lot of phallic imagery at the Republican National Convention. In my opinion, this tells us more about Rich than it says about Republicans.

Strangely enough, Rich doesn't seem to understand that opinion journalism is a competitive field. Perhaps his professional experience has been that reading an email from party big shots, and then parroting their line in your columns, works okay with editors. But not all of us have the luxury in working in an environment which accepts such behavior. The rest of us  have to be original and write or speak memorable phrases.

For example, in the talk radio sphere, I am pretty sure Laura Ingraham is responsible for dubbing John Edwards 'The Silky Pony.' She's come up with a clever musical introduction, too. I'll bet Frank Rich has hurt her feelings by not including her amongst the conspirators animated by Rove. I wonder if Rich thinks that Laura's witty parody is code for 'bestiality'? If he does, that tells me a lot more about him than even I want to know.

Has somebody spiked the water coolers at the New York Times with a hallucinogen? The editors are accepting  this delusional garbage.

At least Krugman had the decency to do his ranting elsewhere. At a recent book event in New York, Rich's op—ed page colleague Paul Krugman indicated he believes the United States faces 

a "mega—Watergate" scandal to uncover a far—reaching right—wing conspiracy, going back forty years, to gain control of the U.S. government and roll back civil rights[....]

"We probably make a mistake when we place too much emphasis on Bush the individual," said Krugman, who received a standing ovation when he was introduced. "This really isn't about Bush. Bush is the guy that the movement found to take them over the top. But it didn't start with him, and it won't end with him. What's going on in this country is that a radical movement...that had been building for several decades, finally found their moment and their man in Bush."

Krugman said he and other liberals had been "asleep" and unaware of the true dimensions of the danger during the years in which President Bill Clinton found himself facing a variety of scandal allegations. But Krugman said there is a "complete continuity" between today's politics and the "campaign of slander and innuendo" against Clinton. "There's complete continuity going back, really, I think — but this is my next book — you really need to go back to Goldwater. A lot of this has to do with civil rights, and the people who don't like them."

Krugman described the conspiracy as "the coalition between the malefactors of great wealth and the religious right." He offered no further details about who, precisely, is in the conspiracy but said that "substantial chunks of the media are part of this same movement."

The inability of both columnists to accept that intelligent, autonomous, creative and literate people hold opposing views, and independently act as part of a legitimate political movement betrays the extremism which motvates them. They have lost perspective, and can only attribute their own movement's lack of success to an evil and pervasive conspiracy.

This is sad. The editors of the New York Times need to think carefully about their comfort level employing columnists who engage in such delusional conspiracy talk. They will be judged by later generations, after current politcal passions have cooled, and they won't look good.

UPDATE: a reader writes to tell us that the editors at the International Herald Tribune, a wholly—owned subsidiary of the NYT, have seen fit to surgically remove some of the nuttier imagery in Rich's article:

an oddly expurgated version of the same piece that appeared (I think) in the International Herald Tribune ... has REMOVED most of the most loony stuff (e.g. those "phallic" references) —— they're just gone. My wife thought I was nuts, until I linked back to the original NY Times article to find the silliest parts again.

Maybe the Times really should check the water coolers at HQ, since editors in Paris don't appear to suffer the same paranoia.