Frank Bruni is quickly becoming my favorite NYT columnist. He’s perfect for this blog’s brand of meta-commentary: not a complete idiot like Friedman, nor a really intelligent person like Krugman, with just enough insight to begin a correct argument, but never enough to see it through. A real triumph of the Middle Way!
In fact it’s proper that we begin by comparing intellects, since Bruni’s latest piece is about why we shouldn’t bother, at least in the realm of politics. Bruni argues that it’s not awfully proper to bash Rick Perry for his weak academic performance (although he helps himself to a couple jabs) because, after all, Obama did great at school, and still totally sucks at being president. Fair enough, although Bruni makes rather a big deal of the commonplace insight that being good at school is not the same as being good at anything else, which is obvious to any…schoolchild.
Sunday is, I think, the biggest day for newspapers, so the NYT’s “Sunday Review” was surprisingly slim pickings, even for satire. Of course there’s the Friedman’s latest evacuation, in which he explains that all recent events are because “the world has gone from connected to hyper-connected”; but this lucid prose mainly made me go from bored to hyper-bored. It any event, it feels a bit de trop to make fun of something that is practically making fun of itself.
In desperation I even looked at Maureen Dowd’s column. Dowd I consider perhaps the battiest political writer with a national audience, a person who kind of publicly free-associates in paragraphs of one to two sentences. You imagine her slightly (or not-so-slightly) tipsy in a fashionable Manhattan apartment, aggressively paragraphinating her text in order to make it fill the requisite column-inches. The purpose of today’s contribution seems to lie exclusively in letting the country know that Mitt Romney once “put Seamus, his Irish setter, in a dog carrier strapped to the roof of the family station wagon for a 12-hour drive from Boston to Ontario.” I guess Dowd is trying to suggest that this is animal cruelty, which sounds right, although it also sounds like about as much fun as a dog could possibly have.
The New York Times today published two pieces in its Sunday Review, each of which directly contradicted the other foundationally and prescriptively. The first piece is by Prof. Drew Westen and asks “What Happened to Obama?” (but don’t decide it’s frightfully boring just yet). The second piece is by one of the NYT’s newbie columnists, Frank Bruni: “True Believers, All of Us.”
The Westen is definitely part of that raft of liberal whining that breaks out whenever Obama does something particularly depraved, that the White House seems to have more and more trouble stifling, though there’s no reason to think that they won’t eventually. Admittedly one feels slightly, darkly sympathetic to Obama Mission Control, which can’t be held entirely responsible for the gullibility of America’s liberals. It’s like a person who buys a car from a well-known notorious crook, and then gets furious angry when it turns out to be a lemon. Well, what did he expect?