Robert was poking around nosily on my desk earlier and, seeing the op-ed page proof, expressed his pleasure that I was going to be running Charles Krauthammer for a second day in a row.
Dang. And I’d hoped nobody would notice.
The problem started when I saved Mr. Krauthammer’s column that had been written for Friday publication for our Monday page (it was better than any other leftovers I had at the time I had to choose, which was Friday).
This morning, as I looked over the 11 new columns I had from writers to whom we subscribe, one of them was an EXTRA one that Mr. Krauthammer had offered over the weekend (he normally only writes once a week). Like most such spontaneously offered material — stuff the writer just felt compelled to write — it was a strong one. But I had just run a Krauthammer.
What I WANTED to run on Tuesday was a "liberal" columnist, even though I normally don’t think about such things. Why? Because a colleague suggested the other day that I’ve been running more "conservative" syndicated op-ed columnists than "liberals" lately. She may have been right; I had not been keeping score. In the daily scramble to put out pages since we lost Mike Fitts (who used to choose op-ed copy), I have done each day’s selection in a vacuum, with no thought to what I ran the day before or will run the day after.
And each day, I have simply chosen what seemed to be the best-written column. You see, I only have room for one. I can’t pick what I regard as the best column, and then another for "balance." But since this perceived imbalance was pointed out to me, I’ve been making an extra effort to see the "liberals" as "best" on some days. But they haven’t been helping much. Especially today.
Oh, I thought I was in good shape on my goal, because I first picked a Paul Krugman piece that I thought was particularly timely. It was about the mounting crisis in the U.S. financial sector. Good topic, one I certainly could stand to know a lot more about. I had it picked, and edited, and was in the process of choosing some AP art to go with it, when I made the fatal mistake of READING the captions on the photos of anxious traders I was looking at. They mentioned that Lehman had filed for bankruptcy today. Mr. Krugman’s piece didn’t reflect that. Nor did it reflect that Bank of America was buying Merrill (he had been writing over the weekend, for Monday publication). Dang.
At this point, already late for my Rotary meeting, I turned back to my options, and noticed that while some of the folks on the left had written about the Sarah Palin interview with Charles Gibson …
- Bob Herbert: While watching the Sarah Palin interview with Charlie Gibson on Thursday night, and the coverage of the Palin phenomenon in general, I’ve gotten the scary feeling, for the first time in my life, that dimwittedness is not just on the march in the U.S., but that it might actually prevail…. "Do you believe in the Bush doctrine?” Gibson asked during the interview. Palin looked like an unprepared student who wanted nothing so much as to escape this encounter with the school principal. Clueless, she asked, "In what respect, Charlie?”
- Maureen Dowd: Being a next-door neighbor is not quite enough, though. If Sarah had been reading about the world she feels so confident about leading rather than just parroting by rote what Randy Scheunemann and the neocons around McCain drilled into her last week — Drill, baby, drill! — she might have realized that as heinous as Russia’s behavior toward Georgia was, it was not completely unprovoked. The State Department has let it be known that it warned McCain’s friend, Misha, the hotheaded president of Georgia, not to send troops in to crush the rebellion in two breakaway states. And she might not have had to clench her jaw and play for time when Gibson raised the Bush doctrine, the wacko pre-emption philosophy that so utterly changed the world.
None were as good as the Krauthammer piece. Those columnists went no deeper into the "Bush doctrine" thing than Tina Fey had on SNL.
Momentarily, I considered a column from Mary Newsom at The Charlotte Observer (a paper with a new EPE, by the way), which struck me as interesting because it was written by someone who disagrees strongly with Ms. Palin, but considers much of the criticism of her as "creepily misogynistic." I like columns like that — you know, the "against type" columns, like the one in which Kathleen Parker broke with other "conservatives" and expressed her displeasure with the Rick Warren event — but I was struck by how much this passage was like Herbert and Dowd: "Further, I am horrified at her inexperience in foreign affairs. Did you see her micro-expression of fear Thursday when ABC’s Charles Gibson asked her about the “Bush doctrine” (that pre-emptive strikes are OK) and Palin obviously was lost?"
Meanwhile, Krauthammer not only raised the question that popped into MY head when I heard it — WHICH Bush doctrine? (If you had forced me to guess, I would have guessed he meant "pre-emption," but I would have asked him to define his term first, too) — but also made the point that while Sarah Palin obviously didn’t know what it was, neither did Mr. Gibson. Nor, presumably (if Mr. Krauthammer, who claims to be the author of the phrase, knows what HE’s about), do Mr. Herbert or Ms. Dowd.
An arguable point to be sure, but one that struck me as more interesting, and adding more to the conversation, than any column that merely elaborated on the Tina Fey point of ridiculing Ms. Palin. (And if you haven’t watched that yet, you must; it was truly hilarious.)
Anyway, that’s why you’ll be seeing Charles Krauthammer two days in a row.