So it’s great that The New York Times Select wall has come down. I always told myself that if The New York Times went subscription, I would subscribe. It’s too important to do without. But instead of making such a cut-and-dry situation, they only made part of their content subscription, so I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to read Paul Krugman, but I could buy the paper off the stand for $2.00 per week, or $8.00 per month — $1.00 more than the Select subscription rate. The extra $1.00 was totally worth it to not be exposed to the rest of The New York Times’s lackluster editorial page. As much as I wanted the ease of access to Paul Krugman, I just couldn’t bring myself to pay for the rest of those dismal nobodies.
How is it that “the paper of record” ended up with such a weak stable? If I were in charge, I would keep Krugman, Brooks and Friedman and dump the rest in favor of a real feisty debate — not the thin gruel they are currently serving up. That would leave six slots to fill. I would pick maybe two real devotees each, right and left and two people rightish and leftish, but unorthodox and hard to pin down. The amazing thing is that such a bunch of mediocrits have the megaphone of The New York Times editorial page when so many amazing talents are backbenched at lesser read magazines like The Progressive, The American Conservative et cetera. Time for some promotions.
On the right I’d get someone smart — not a hack — who can occasionally refrain from reworking party talking points. Say Max Boot or David Frum. For the two on the left I would definitely go with Barbara Ehrenreich. She filled in for Thomas Friedman for a few weeks once and it was great and she would help to make up for the shameful lack of women on the page. Then maybe someone like Rick Pearlstein, Thomas Frank or Jonathan Chait. For the hard to pin down I would go with someone like Andrew Sullivan, Christopher Hitchens, Michael Lind or Virginia Postrel.
Check that, I’d fire Thomas Friedman too and replace him with someone similar, but less Howdy Doody. Maybe Fareed Zakaria if he could be lured away from his already pretty sweet post at Newsweek or Andrew Bacevich — he could double as the hard to pin down as well.
More important than anything else is that is that Maureen Dowd be forced back behind some — any — kind of wall. She’s like a Ritalin sedated cross between Bertie Wooster’s aunt Dahlia and Carrie Bradshaw. Does the left really need its own Peggy Noonan? And yet has anyone ever done so much damage to the left, irregardless of which way she turns her poison pen? Her petty rages against the left are the purest breed of the once established, insurmountable standard narratives that capture media coverage and yet her juvenile sprite-bitch screeds against the right are frame-ready examples of the right-wing character of the left. And I swear, no one is working so relentlessly to undermine the feminist cause as Dowd with her preening, prissy socialite stylings. When I read her column I need to remind myself that she is a freak and that women are in fact capable of serious thought. Do you know that she actually won a Pulitzer? What can that possibly mean?
I see that her current column is already the most e-mailed article on the site. She could be ignored as a writer more suited to Entertainment Tonight were this not the ase twice a week. It’s enough to make me think that Ann Coulter is on to something with her descriptions of peevish, smug, small-minded Upper West Siders.