Man Without Qualities

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

Now, About That Memorial Service

The often dazed and confused Nicholas D. Kristof gropes towards a lucid moment in today's column in which he belatedly notices that the intellectual processes and writings of the American left now often resemble those of Lower East Side street crazies.

Of course, full cogency is too much for him to accomplish all in one try. He raises old controversies in the usual "both sides do it" distraction, which blurs his focus on the present. He mistakes Bill O'Reilly for a hard conservative. And he asserts that "Democratic politicians like Tom Daschle haven't joined the conspiratorial hysteria" - where Senator Daschle was himself one of the first and worst instigators of the insane suggestions that President Bush knew personally that the September 11 attacks were probably coming. Senator Daschle famously had to beat a hasty retreat from his disgraceful assertions, which he did by sublimating them into accusations that the President "should have known." Maybe Mr. Kristof missed that day at school. But he should have the courage of his convictions: the real problem here is exactly that the insanity on the left now often penetrates into its deepest, and supposedly most stable, institutional recesses. The Democrat and liberal centers do not hold against the forces Mr. Kristof identifies.

But the most interesting tidbit in Mr. Kristof's column is his disclosure of polling data regarding the politicized Paul Wellstone Memorial Service:

A Minnesota poll shows that nearly one-quarter of voters are less likely to vote Democratic in the Senate race because of the bitterly politicized Wellstone memorial service.

My, my, my. "Nearly one-quarter" is it?

When you put it that way, I can certainly understand why Mr. Blodgett fell into "deep regret."

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