Howell Raines was forced out as executive editor of the New York Times because of the Jayson Blair scandal, not because he is a left-wing extremist. (The latter was a prerequisite for the job in the eyes of "Pinch" Sulzberger.) While he was editing the Times, Raines tried to keep his far-left political views out of the public eye. Now that he has left the paper, however, Raines feels free to say what he really thinks. Thus, this article in England's left-wing Guardian is illuminating.
What is noteworthy, I think, is not just Raines' leftism, but also his bigotry. Let's take some examples:
Even against a weakened George Bush, Kerry has to get better as a candidate. The president may be bruised, but anyone tempted to bet against him would be ignoring the Republican party's mastery of what the pundits call "hammer-and-chisel politics", in which an opponent's reputation is destroyed through relentless pounding on one or two simple ideas. Ever since Ronald Reagan beat Jimmy Carter in 1980, presidential elections have been dominated by Republican expertise in finding a tiny crack - real or imaginary - in a candidate's public facade and expanding that fissure until the whole edifice crumbles.
Note a couple of basic points. First, there is no doubt whose side Raines is on. His candidate is John Kerry, the Democrat. This is a given, even though Kerry has been, as Raines acknowledges, a lousy candidate so far. Next, there is the myth of the "Republican attack machine," which the Times, along with the Washington Post, has done so much to perpetuate. But what is Raines referring to when he decries the "hammer and chisel politics" that "destroys an opponent's reputation" through "relentless pounding on one or two simple ideas"? No suspense here--Raines' paradigm is the 1980 campaign in which Ronald Reagan beat Jimmy Carter by "finding a tiny crack--real or imaginary--in [Carter's] public facade."
Wow. How old is Raines, anyway? Older than me, so he should remember the 1980 campaign. There was no need to search for a "tiny crack" in Carter's armor; the country was sliding rapidly toward disaster. The unemployment rate in November 1980 was 7.5 percent; worse yet, the inflation rate was a horrendous 12.5 percent. That year's "misery index" of 20 percent has rarely, if ever, been exceeded. (The current "misery index" is a robust 7.9 percent.) And that doesn't even take into account the national humiliation of the Iranian hostage crisis. Such was the "tiny crack" that Reagan exploited when he rescued this country from the debacle of the Carter years, and then went on to save the world from Communism. But, as you can see, Raines doesn't remember the events of 1980 quite the way the rest of us do, and in any event, he wasn't happy about the world being saved from Communism.
But Raines has barely started getting reckless:
White House strategists are betting that leaving Iraq in 30 days - no matter what chaos ensues in that country - will leave them time to revise history between now and election day and, more importantly, get on with the work of destroying Kerry's image.
Huh?? Who in the world is talking about "leaving Iraq in 30 days"? And what exactly is the effort to "revise history between now and the election" that Raines refers to? The only such effort I know of is John Kerry's attempt to explain his conflicting votes on the Middle East. The salient point here, though, is that Raines is living in a fantasy land. He must be receiving transmissions about our impending pullout from Iraq through the fillings in his teeth.
Raines goes on to suggest that Kerry is giving speeches that are too subtle for the American people: "The problem is that speeches that sound right at the Council (on Foreign Relations) don't necessarily work for an electorate schooled to respond to simple messages." President Bush, of course, labors under no such disability:
Bush delivered just that in a television-ad blitz in 19 crucial states. The ads depicted Kerry as going wobbly on terrorism because he first voted for the Patriotic Act and then became worried about its authorisation of wire-taps and other infringements of civil liberties.
Wire taps have been "authorized" for decades, of course, and Raines never explains what "infringements of civil liberties" are mandated by the Patriot Act. As the Trunk and I know, having debated leftists on the merits of the Patriot Act, it is always sufficient to ask a liberal to identify the sections of the act to which he objects. I have never yet met a liberal who is able to do so. Actually, I have never yet met a liberal who has read the Patriot Act.
Here's what Kerry has to face up to and build upon. The difference between him and Bush is that Kerry represents the liberal, charitable wing of the Privilege party and George W represents the conservative, greedy wing of the Privilege party.
Got that? The difference between Democrats and Republicans is that Democrats are "charitable" while Republicans are "greedy." And all this time, you thought we were unfairly caricaturing the vapidity of liberal thought! But it's worse than that--Raines himself is, obviously, not a member of the "Privilege party." Republicans and Democrats, tweedle dee and tweedle dum, are adherents of the Privilege party, but Raines occupies a purer position to the left--as a Communist, apparently.
You think I exaggerate? Consider this:
Americans aren't antagonistic toward the rules that protect the rich because they think that in the great crap-shoot of economic life in America, they might wind up rich themselves. It's a mass delusion, of course, but one that has worked ever since Ronald Reagan got Republicans to start flaunting their wealth instead of apologising for it. Kerry has to understand that when a cure is impossible, the doctor must enter the world of the deluded.
By the "rules that protect the rich," Raines refers to the fact that we don't yet have socialism in America. The longed-for day when Raines and like-minded New York Times staffers can simply steal other peoples' money has, regrettably, not quite arrived. Those who believe in free enterprise are suffering from a "mass delusion;" because bumpkins like us are so numerous, however, John Kerry must "enter the world of the deluded."
Are you starting to detect here a certain obsessive hostility toward freedom, toward free enterprise, and toward America?
Most of all, of course, Raines hates George W. Bush. He repeats--completely irrelevantly--the silliest and most discredited canards about Bush's Texas Air National Guard service:
There's hardly an American who does not know that George W got into the Air National Guard when others couldn't through his father's political pull, that he got into flight school ahead of others due to his father's political pull, that he was allowed to skip his normal weekend drills and make them up without being punished because of his father's political pull.
Raines himself was a jounalist throughout the Vietnam years, operating under one deferment or another. It will come as no surprise to our readers that he did not risk his life as a fighter jet pilot. He would never have been capable of flying such an airplane.
And finally, we arrive at what may be the most fundamental of Mr. Raines' bigotries:
If John Kerry, Purple Heart winner, can't take that set of facts and handle Russert as well as Messrs Bush and Cheney do, he's not likely to cause enough defections in the Christian bloc to defeat them.
Wow. President Bush's voters are "the Christian bloc." So if you want to know who in America is really stupid, really "greedy" and "deluded," look no farther. It's the "Christian bloc." Raines' bigotry is breathtaking, and breathtakingly stupid. Just consider: a few short months ago, this ignorant bigot was running the New York Times.
Everything conservatives always suspected about the malignancy and the stupidity of the people who run the dominant, liberal media is true. The truth, in fact, is worse than conservatives could ever have imagined.