« Twitter roundup | Main | Obama should beware Reagan myths »

January 05, 2011


Collins's initial op-eds were vapid, but she actually managed to decline from there. Presenting one more reference to Boehner crying is pathetic; presenting three more is beyond parody.

The utter triviality of her column is particularly striking at a time when so many important events are occurring, such as:

-- Iran's nuclearization,
-- the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,
-- impending financial failure of many state and local governments,
-- impending financial failure the US government and several other countries,
-- the impact of the newly elected Republicans,
-- bad economic conditions, particularly high unemployment.
-- global warming (or the global warming scam, depending on what one believes)
-- illegal immigration

With all these and more vital issues to write about, it's pathetic to see the Times waste precious space presenting such trivia.

I think Collins is frequently winning, and often extremely funny. Yes, she focuses on some of the metadata of the people who make the news, but the observations that flow from it usually function as persuasive reminders of what these people are actually like as human beings—what you'd think of them if they worked a few cubicles away from you, which is to say how you would evaluate them and their statements and actions if you used your everyday value criteria and not your special madness/washingtion/pomp and circumstance ones. I wouldn't want this to be the only take on the news, but I'm glad it's there, and I always read it. (And the Romney thing is of course an official shtick of hers, the result of a Cato-like vow to never let Romney be mentioned in her column without a reminder that he once chained his dog to the roof of the family car as a way to save space: she thinks this action—vaguely redolent of baby-splitting, definitely "out of the box"—offers an insight into the values and decision0making process of this perpetual presidential contender that can't be reiterated enough, and I think she's right. Or take Boehner's crying: the fact that the new speaker of the house literally can't talk about children without weeping is IMPORTANT. He's second in the line of succession and he seriously needs his head examined. Such things bear repeating. If they'd really sunk in, he wouldn't have been elected in the first place!)

Oh geez. Dear Brendan, lighten up. Pick on some columnist who presents him/herself as an authority. She makes me laugh sometimes. Maybe because I'm old, and an old woman to boot, I am very grateful when someone can make me laugh at the news. I think we should lower the voting age; offset the seriousness of the 20's and 30's.

Gail Collins? Really?

On the NY Times op-ed page, you have Tom Friedman and Maureen Dowd and Ross Douchat, and you're going after Gail Collins?

Tom Friedman openly wished for a Chinese-style dictatorship in America. Douthat is racist and classist and afraid of sex. Dowd hasn't written about anything of substance in my adult life.

You're missing the forest for the trees.

On the other hand, at least Boehner actually did cry on "60 Minutes." By contrast, for more than two years we've been hearing riffs on "I can see [fill in the blank] from my house" when that's not something Palin ever said.*
* For the uninitiated or gullible, what Palin said was, "They're our next door neighbors and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska." The line "I can see Russia from my house" was Tina Fey's parody of Palin. I wonder how many liberals suffer from the misperception that that's something Palin actually said. Somebody ought to research that!

I think lots of people think Palin said it, but it may be more of a word-of-mouth phenomenon -- I just checked Nexis and can find very few mainstream examples that don't mention Fey or SNL in the last two years. If you see a case of someone attributing the quote to her, please let me know.

Here's a small example, from Salon. I'll keep an eye out for others. But every time a comic makes a joke about Palin that's built on "I can see [fill in the blank] from my house," it feeds the public misperception. And that's what I'm interested in--not whether the New York Times suffers from a misperception but whether ordinary members of the public do. And they do (see excerpt beginning at 4:45). Try asking undergraduates who made certain statements and have one of them be "I can see Russia from my house." See what they say.

The comments to this entry are closed.