The Los Angeles Times hurts our heads: The miracle lies in the fact that our nation ever made it this far.
On Sunday, the Los Angeles Times performed a dual service. First, it showed us how hopelessly dumb we the people are.
Second, it showed us the hopeless intellectual standards of the modern upper-end press corps.
The Times accomplished these depressing tasks by printing a pair of op-ed columns. Kevin Drum is to blame for the fact that we saw these head-hurting efforts at all.
What hath the L. A. Times wrought? On Sunday, it printed a matched set of columns: Charlotte Allen's "Why conservatives can't talk to liberals" and Diana Wagman's "Why liberals can't talk to conservatives."
What we can’t figure is why anyone would want to talk to either writer at all.
Allen is cookie-cutter conservative flyweight—has been for a good many years. She offered the standard flyweight complaints about how horrible (all) liberals are.
Wagman is a novelist. She may even be a good one. But she has been writing silly columns in the Los Angeles Times for years. On Sunday, she seemed determined to prove that liberals really are as hopeless as Allen said.
Here’s how her column started:
WAGMAN (2/19/12): I recently played poker with a bunch of Republicans. My husband and I, both bleeding-heart liberals, are part owners of a cabin in the Sierra outside Fresno, a very conservative area. The Camp Sierra Assn. president has an annual poker game, and this year we, the newcomers, were invited.How did our nation ever make it this far? Consider what Wagman said:
No one mentioned politics. We talked instead about our kids and Las Vegas and the odd warm weather. There was a lot of laughter and a lot of very good Scotch. I had fun even though I lost $4.
When the game was over, we walked home with our across-the-road neighbors and invited them in for a final nightcap.
They are the best neighbors in the world. Always ready with a tool, an ingredient or a jump-start for the car. Whatever you need, if they have it, they will give it. They are a lovely family: husband, wife and four smart, funny, polite children. I was sure they were Democrats.
According to Wagman, her new neighbors are friendly and helpful. Their children are smart and polite.
Apparently for these reasons, Wagman “was sure they were Democrats.”
Go ahead! Break your hearts and hurt your heads by reading those two columns. But ask yourself this: How does anyone get dumb enough to write an opening passage like Wagman’s? And how did we ever reach the point where a major newspaper would even consider printing it?
Allen played the fool on the conservative side, as she frequently does. Wagman broke our hearts even more. That said, the actual question is this:
In what sort of world do columns like these ever get near a major newspaper? Those columns let you gaze on the intellectual standards of the guild we describe as our “press corps.”
How did we ever get this way? Is there a way to attone?
Dueling banjos: No banjos can be heard in these columns. But the columns appear beneath these dueling synopses:
Synopsis on Allen's column: Debating a liberal is maddening: They think conservatives are evil, while we think they're silly.Gack! Noted in passing:
Synopsis on Wagman's column: We are not the same. I equate Republicans' political views with thoughtlessness, intolerance and narcissism. They're neither kind nor empathetic.
Wagman’s column tends to support Allen’s claim. Wagman does think conservatives are evil.
Allen’s column tends to refute Wagman’s claim. To a depressing degree, these writers are "the same."