Perhaps we can explain: Did your country seem smarter the past few weeks?
That may reflect the fact that Gail Collins was “off,” to use New York Times terminology.
Collins hadn’t written a column since April 7. Somehow, the world seemed smarter.
This morning, Collins is back at her post—and her noggin is as empty as ever. She had three weeks to stockpile ideas. But this is the way she began:
COLLINS (4/26/12): Well, the results of the latest wave of primaries are in. The people have spoken, decisively. All 10 of them.As always, Collins has nothing cluttering her mind. In every cycle, turn-out at primaries drops through the floor once the race has been decided. Tuesday’s low turn-out was no surprise.
I am exaggerating. In Rhode Island, well over 3 percent of the eligible voters flocked to the polls on Tuesday, as the overwhelming majority declared their enthusiasm for Mitt Romney as the Republican presidential nominee. We are totally talking mandate.
And I cannot tell you how much excitement there was in New York. Six percent turnout! In my neighborhood, the atmosphere was electric. Voters had not been so politically exercised since that year we had a primary pitting a recently deceased congressman and a member of a cultlike group led by a Marxist psychotherapist.
But Collins has no ideas.
As she continues, she talks about Mitt Romney’s recent reaction to cookies, and of course she revisits his dog. But then, she even revisits Rick Perry’s coyote! Aw, what the heck! Why not post the whole passage?
COLLINS: Did you ever notice how many of the Republican candidates seemed to have animal issues? Rick Perry shot that coyote, and Jon Huntsman got bitten by a goat—really, that was the high point of the Huntsman campaign. Also, Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, the veep front-runner, recently imitated a chicken on television. You will be hearing more about this incident because I think I speak for the entire national media when I say that we are planning to discuss possible Republican vice presidential candidates nonstop through the spring and summer.In the highlighted passage, she rolls her eyes at the way the guild will waste time discussing the various VPs—as she does the same thing herself!
And the winner is the guy who drove to Canada with the family dog strapped to the roof of the car!
In truth, there isn’t a single real idea inside Collins’ head. She even discusses campaign background music, the final refuge of “political journalists” who don’t have squat, squash or even squadoodle to say.
In fairness, Collins seems a bit less addled than her successor, Andrew Rosenthal. Here’s how he starts today's editorial about the Supreme Court hearing on Arizona’s immigration law:
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL (4/26/12): Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. had barely started his argument against Arizona’s immigration law on Wednesday at the Supreme Court when Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. signaled where he stood—in sympathy with the state’s defense of the statute.To the extent that we can determine its meaning, the highlighted statement is just very dumb. Solicitor generals don’t have to agree, unless the statement with which they’re agreeing is accurate.
His first question for Mr. Verrilli made it clear how little Chief Justice Roberts was focused on its pernicious effects and how little he wanted that discussed in the court: “No part of your argument has to do with racial or ethnic profiling, does it?” The solicitor general had to agree. The government’s case turns on the doctrine of pre-emption, not on the injustice of the Arizona law.
Mr. Verrilli then found himself in a debate about the statute as Chief Justice Roberts portrayed it, not the one that is actually law.
The news reports in today’s Times suggest Roberts’ statement was.
By the end of his piece, Rosenthal quotes Roberts using the phrase “these people,” trying to make him sound like a bigot. Truly, Rosenthal is pathetic, even compared to Collins.
After fourteen years on our sprawling campus, we would have to say the following:
People have a very hard time understanding how dumb these people are. In the end, this may be the most significant thing we rubes just completely can’t grasp.
That said, Rosenthal may be farther over his head than anyone we’ve ever seen in a major “press corps” position. Today’s editorial is painfully dumb.
But then, his work typically is.