Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 22, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

ON KNOWING YOUR BASE....The idiotic kerfuffle of the day revolves around the New York Times' rejection of an Iraq op-ed by John McCain even though they accepted and printed an op-ed by Barack Obama last week on the same subject. (Obama here, McCain here.) I don't blame the wingers for trying to gin up some outrage over this — it's pretty good base fodder, after all, and they've had a tough week — but Steve Benen explains in a nutshell why the Times accepted one piece and rejected the other:

Go ahead and read McCain's submitted piece. It has 12 paragraphs — 11 of which attack Obama directly. Obama's piece focused on Obama's vision for a sensible U.S. policy towards Iraq. McCain's submission was a hit-job, focused exclusively on attacking Obama. While Obama's op-ed mentioned McCain three times, McCain's op-ed mentioned Obama 10 times by name, and 17 times through pronouns.

That about covers it. I don't really understand why the Times published Obama's piece in the first place, since it was basically just a campaign position paper, but it's a free country. If they want to publish campaign position papers, I guess they can do it. McCain, for his part, was offered a chance to do the same, and instead wrote a relentlessly negative hit piece on Obama — and then decided he'd get more mileage from whining about the liberal media rejecting it than he would from rewriting it and getting it printed. I guess he knows his base pretty well.

Still, I want to point out one piece of unalloyed good news to emerge from all this. On Hannity & Colmes last night, deranged megahawk John Bolton said he was so spitting mad over this affair that "I may never publish another op-ed in The New York Times after this." Oh joyous day!

Kevin Drum 1:10 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (27)

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Comments

No if we can just go from "spitting mad" to "stroking out" for winger reactions to this affair we'd be doing even better.

Posted by: steve duncan on July 22, 2008 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

I think the NYT made a mistake here. Their actions will only reinforce the impression that people think the MSM is in the tank for Obama (see recent poll).

Frankly it is my opinion that politcal candidate position papers and rebuttals, etc. should not be published on the Op Ed page. What should be published on the Op Ed pages are detailed analysis of the position papers,etc. written by people who have the ability to remain non partisan.

Yeah yeah I'm asking for the moon.

Posted by: optical weenie on July 22, 2008 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Re: Bolton's promise: Get it in writing.

Posted by: Leisureguy on July 22, 2008 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with OW. Keep the pols off the Op Ed pages. They already get their say in the news pages, on radio and TV and everywhere else. Give someone else a chance.

Posted by: tomeck on July 22, 2008 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

The Times is right. Sen. McCain should change his column to make it more what that dreamy Sen. Obama wrote.

Posted by: Brian on July 22, 2008 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

"John Bolton said he was so spitting mad over this affair that "I may never publish another op-ed in The New York Times after this.""

Can I get that written up in contractual form, and notarized?

Posted by: sheerahkahn on July 22, 2008 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

Weenie,
I'll give you the moon, baby. Just don't make me put on the Inkblot suit again, at least not during the summer.

Posted by: thersites on July 22, 2008 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

"John Bolton said he was so spitting mad over this affair that "I may never publish another op-ed in The New York Times after this.""

Well if the NYT doesn't publish relentlessly negative hit pieces on political opponents, what could John Bolton possibly publish?

Posted by: clb72 on July 22, 2008 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

The New York Times is under no obligation to have "equal time" on its editorial page than Rush Limbaugh is to provide equal time to Obama or any other talk show host for that matter?

Have they forgetten the NYT is a private company and that they are on the public ariwaves? Do they want a "Fairness Doctrine" for newspapers?

Posted by: Sean Scallon on July 22, 2008 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

Thersites,
If you don't wear the Inkblot suit then you'll have to wax your a$$.

Posted by: optical weenie on July 22, 2008 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Twice a week the NY Times publishes David Brooks. Once a week it publishes Bill Kristal. How much more neocon do they want and need?

On top of that, their 'leftist' writers occasionally carry water for the Right, especially Dowd and Friedman.

Finally they publish lots of tripe written by neocons such as Kagan and Bolton.

They've basically enabled the Neocons to run the nation into the ground. At some point, self preservation rears its ugly head and will doom the likes of Bolton. Apparently it did so in reguard to McCain's tripe piece.

Posted by: Bub on July 22, 2008 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

The NY Times' op-ed page is not liberal, and Sen. Obama is not a liberal either. Escalating the military occupation of Afghanistan should not be considered a liberal position.

Posted by: Brojo on July 22, 2008 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Apparently, the wingnuts and their base are really up in arms about the Obama visit.

I stumbled onto Glenn Beck (a miserable excuse for a human being, yet with his own show for which he actually receives a paycheck) last night, and he was doing everything he could to push the latest talking points for the GOP and against Obama.

It was actually funny, in a sickening kind of way...

I couldn't bear to watch more than three minutes, though. I showered immediately.

Posted by: Ranger Jay on July 22, 2008 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

It really is amazing to me how many wingers subscribe to this "Shape of Earth: Views Differ" bullshit. It's also amazing to me how often they characterize the left as "whiners" when they do virtually nothing BUT whine, and all the time. I mean, how much sympathy does John f'ing Bolton really merit? -273C.

Posted by: DH Walker on July 22, 2008 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

frabjous, not joyous. More expressive.

Posted by: Warren Terra on July 22, 2008 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

frabjous, not joyous. More expressive.

And more Wimseycal.

Posted by: shortstop on July 22, 2008 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

The New York Times op-ed page represents the interests of America's Ultra-Rich Ruling Class, Inc.

However, America's corporate ruling class is not a monolith. For the past seven-plus years of the CheneyBush regime, the most reactionary, rapacious, corrupt, violent and anti-human elements of the ruling class have been in charge -- principally, the military-petroleum complex and the most blatantly corrupt and criminal elements of Wall Street. Their views are represented on the Times op-ed page by any of the so-called "neocons" whose articles are featured there on a regular basis.

However, there are also more "moderate" and "responsible" elements of America's corporate ruling class, and their views are reflected on the Times op-ed page as well, by so-called "centrist" or "liberal" writers.

There is just about zero possibility that the corporate rule of America can be shaken, let alone overturned, and there is equally near zero possibility that America's corporate-owned mass media -- including newspapers like the New York Times -- will ever reflect any real "debate" other than the very limited range of "debate" between different elements of the corporate ruling class, which is the only "debate" the corporate media will consider "legitimate".

Like peasants in medieval Europe, under the rule of the "divine right of kings", the best that we -- the 21st century peasants of the USA under the rule of the "divine right of wealth" -- can hope for is that we will have a "good king" instead of a "bad king".


Posted by: SecularAnimist on July 22, 2008 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

It reinforces the Phil Gramm message that the right wing is nothing but whiners.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on July 22, 2008 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

a side effect of the Bush Derangement Syndrome

"Orwell" -- Eric Blair rolls over in his grave every time you use that handle -- the only "Bush Derangement Syndrome" is suffered by nitwits like you who still imagine Bush hasn't proved all his critics right and then some.

Posted by: Gregory on July 22, 2008 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

McCain's attack is already outdated. The Times should print it just to show how foolish McCain's criticisms are. McCain claims that if things go well he will have half of our troops out of Iraq at the end of 2012.

He also quotes some report as saying, "Iraq has met all but three of 18 original benchmarks set by Congress last year to measure security, political and economic progress." If the report's standards were that low, then it probably also declared that Bush is a good President.

I wish the Chicago Tribune had minimal standards--they could have used the space taken up by today's Steven Calabresi editorial to remind us to set our clocks back in the Fall or to tell us about the time that some white woman was missing.

Posted by: reino on July 22, 2008 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

Orwell, look at the bright side: if Obama becomes president, and the Democrats gain majorities in both houses of Congress, and Obama appoints a couple of middle-of-the-road moderate Supreme Court justices, then you right-wingers will be able to enjoy your favorite activity for the next eight years, namely WHINING WHINING WHINING WHINING WHINING about being the poor oppressed victims of powerful liberal elites.

Of course that's what you already do all the time anyway, even when all three branches of the federal government were under the solid control of the Republicans.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on July 22, 2008 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

Orwell, look at the bright side: if Obama becomes president, and the Democrats gain majorities in both houses of Congress, and Obama appoints a couple of middle-of-the-road moderate Supreme Court justices,

Personally I'm looking forward to Attorney General Michelle Obama and Justices John Edwards and Hillary Clinton.....

Posted by: Stefan on July 22, 2008 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

Apparently, the wingnuts and their base are really up in arms about the Obama visit.

Funny, I thought it was the wingnuts that insisted on Obama's visit to the ME in the first place. It has been a real treat watching that blow up in their faces.

I think the NYT made a mistake here.

Not me. It is sounding like McCain's op-ed was a clunky attack piece on Obama - not at all a "position paper". Unless of course, his only position is trying to clumsily attack Obama. The NYT op-ed is not campaign ad space nor should the NYT feel obligated to publish rightwing drivel in an attempt to appear "balanced" and try to wash away inane wingnut claims of bias that will endure regardless. If McCain can muster up some type of position (after he finishes whining) then the Times can publish it.

Posted by: ckelly on July 22, 2008 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

I totally understand why the Times ran it. It was a running controversy that Obama had changed his position on Iraq. So, it seems logical that an extended piece by Obama laying out what his policy is now was newsworthy. I read it when it came out, and it satisfied my own interest as to whether or not he had changed his thinking.

Posted by: evan500 on July 22, 2008 at 9:15 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with optical weenie about providing Op Ed space to politicians at all. I never read 'em. For that matter, I don't read the idiot Dowd or Kristol, to mention just a few.

After reading McCain's pathetic effort, rejection was clearly the right thing to do. And I think the Times did it out of pity for the doddering old fart. The Times' version of tough love, as it were. How many times does McCain have to show his ass in public before everybody gets the word?

And, yes, also agree with those who've labeled the wingers as whiners. That's all they do. That's all they've ever done. Bunch of pussies is what they are. One of the reasons Obama stands out in the cowardly Democratic Party is his willingness to stand up to these bullies.

Posted by: Nixon Did It on July 22, 2008 at 9:16 PM | PERMALINK

After reading both pieces, I think the Times' response is perfectly apt. There was nothing there about McCain's plan. It was ALL attacking Obama's positions, past and present. McCain probably would have done better writing a longish letter to the editor if all he wanted to do was criticize Obama's position.

And from watching him on the campaign trail, I think that he really DOESN'T have a plan, so there is no way he could write an Op-Ed equivalent to Obama's.

Everytime the Neocons complain about the Times, I want to respond, "They published Judy Miller, didn't they? What more do you want?"

Posted by: Cal Gal on July 22, 2008 at 11:24 PM | PERMALINK

Empty rhetoric in this political climate has become a self perpetuating oxymorn for both Republican's and Democrat's. Obama offers hope without substance while Mc Cain offers his view of resolute confidence in the face of a Hobson's choice. No doubt, this election will go down in history. I can't remember one in my lifetime that hasn't.Personally, I'm a college educated writer and a card carrying Democrat since the cradle, but something about Obama's polish and demeanor disturbs me. Race is a non-issue... I can't in good faith cast a ballot for a man with a voting record on major issues that reminds me of Saturday morning reruns of my daughter watching episodes of Casper the Friendly Ghost. He was absent from the senate the morning of a crucial housing vote. This is not the first time he has been conveniently absent or been present for a quorm and decided not to vote on an issue that might force him to show conviction for what he believes in. I'd take the refreshing honesty of a Sam Ervin or Bill Bradley any day... R Lee Webb

Posted by: R Lee Webb on July 27, 2008 at 6:16 AM | PERMALINK
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