Sunday, September 30, 2012


I know a lot of you won't want to let go of the notion that the worst The New York Times has to offer on its op-ed page is David Brooks, or Ross Douthat, or Tom Friedman, or Maureen Dowd, but at a moment when all of those columnists are recoiling, at least to some extent, from a right wing that gave us the campaign of Mitt "47%" Romney, along comes Frank Bruni with his best Colonel Blimp imitation:
IN a few days, as you may have heard, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will go head-to-head in their first presidential debate. What I most want from it isn't fireworks, though I'm as big a fan of political theater as the next hack. It's a word, one that has gone sadly out of vogue over recent decades and been mostly absent from this campaign.


And I'm not holding my breath.
Yes, that's right: After a four-year near-depression, during which millions of people have either lost their jobs, experienced cuts to pay and benefits, or found themselves having to run twice as hard at work just to stay in place, all while many of them have suffered foreclosures and others have seen their houses lose value and 401(k)s shrink, we are told by Mr. Bruni that we haven't sacrificed enough -- Mr. Bruni being, I would remind you, a man who has sailed effortlessly through a time of great news-business austerity, having been offered job after job by the Times, even though he's notoriously unqualified for most of the jobs he's been offered.

He's certainly not sacrificing: for the princely sums he's paid, he writes two columns a week; yes, like many Times op-ed writers, he's tasked with generating extra content by maintaining a blog, but this month he's written a whopping six posts, and none in the past eight days, in addition to his month's quota of eight columns. (Paul Krugman, by contrast, has supplemented his column quota with 98 blog posts this month. And Krugman also teaches and writes books.)

You can read the column if you must; I can't bear to quote it. I'm sure I won't surprise you when I tell you it's classic both-sides-do-it-ism: Romney and Ryan won't tell the rich they have to sacrifice, but Obama won't demand sacrifice of everyone else. Bruni gives the game away when he writes this:
What once made Paul Ryan exciting even to some moderates was his readiness to sing a more somber song and say: folks, we can't have it all.
That just leaves me speechless.

If sacrifice has to be doled out by government, it ought to come after the economy is on its feet and the population feels more prosperous. Telling people now that sacrifice is good for them is like telling Europe in 1946 or America in 1866 that what it really needs is a good, cleansing war.

The vast majority of Americans have sacrificed plenty in the past few years. If Frank Bruni hasn't, he needs to realize how anomalous and lucky he is, rather than projecting his awareness of his own soft life onto the rest of us.


Victor said...

Who knew our first major openly gay columnist would be such an unempathic feckin' @$$hole?

And he summed himself up about as well as I could when he called himself a "hack."
A truer word was never spoken.

Krugman's the only one really worth reading at all anymore. And HE'S worth reading EVERY TIME HE WRITES.

Gail Collins has some great days, and some so-so days. But when she's on - watch out!

Dowd is off in Cloud Cuckoo land most of the time, writing about politics as if it was some sort of DC gossip column, "Beltway Confidential" - but like the little girl with the curl, when she's good, she's REAL good, and when she's bad...

Kristoff's good, but occasionally writes a 'WTF was that, coming from Nick, column?'

Brooks is a paid shill, his only job is to polish the Conservative turd to as high a gloss as that pinched-off loaf can hold - which ain't much anymore.

Douthat's a moral scold, who holds Brooks in the highest esteem. 'Nuff said.

And Bruni is the UpChuck Todd of Op-Ed writers - always looking to square that circle, or circle that square.
He's a waste of valuable Op-Ed real estate.

Jim Parrett said...

And these idiots wonder why the press gets no respect. Totally clueless, lacking any semblance of self awareness and blindered by the Beltway, today's conservative journalists are the justification for the emergence and power of social media.

BroD said...

I'm willing to sacrifice Mitt. Seriously though is there any reason it's off-limits to ask the 1% to sacrifice?

Chef said...

I'm sick of these people. The more I think about it, the more BS the sacrifice thing is. According to mathematics and history, we could have an amazing society, with everyone feed, housed, working fairly, educated and dare I say it, enlightened. But the greedy power hungry assholes of the country/world won't stand for it with out a scorched earth fight. Sick.

Clark said...

I've made the sacrifice of ignoring all Times columnists except for Krugman.

JamTheCat said...

My guess is Mr. Bruni means sacrifice in the Mayan term. Find some virgins or POWs and offer up their hearts to the financial gods on Mount Wall Street, so they will once again favor us with their largess. Of course, such victims are never chosen from the anointed few; that would be bad manners.

Procopius said...

@JamTheCat: I think that was the Aztec, not the Maya, but maybe both did it.

This column reminded me of a cartoon I had downloaded but have since lost. In the background a volcano, smoke coming out of the top, with a group of people running up the side carrying above their heads a fat guy. In the forground a guy wearing a witch-doctor's mask talking to an explorer guy, "Well, no, the gods didn't actually tell us to sacrifice a banker. It just seemed like a good idea."

Glen Tomkins said...

All in favor of sacrificing Frank Bruni...

cal1942 said...

I swear if the 'Grand Bargain" happens with cuts to Social Security, etc. the media will have have a giant orgasm.

Generally, our media represents the plutocracy and the bottom line on what they call entitlements is they don't want to pay back the hundreds of billions borrowed from Social Security Trust Fund.

Cutting scheduled Social Security benefits would be the biggest theft in history.

Unknown said...

I would only add that this is not really due to the crash. The poorer classes have not been participating in economic growth for a long time:

We've Been Sacrificing for Decades