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IVINS THE TERRIBLE! Molly Ivins is just like Ann Coulter! So the Times’ Nick Kristof says:


HIS MASTER’S VOICE: We agree with some of the things Nicholas Kristof said in his Wednesday New York Times column. For example, we certainly (tend to) agree with his opening paragraph:

KRISTOF: Considering the savagery with which the Snarling Right excoriated President Clinton as a “sociopath,” blocked judicial appointments, undermined U.S. military operations from Kosovo to Iraq, hounded Vincent Foster and then accused the Clintons of murdering him, it is utterly hypocritical for conservatives to complain about liberal incivility.
In general, we agree with that point. (Not all conservatives acted that way.) But then, we agree with other things Kristof says. We agree that American politics is becoming unpleasantly (and stupidly) polarized. And we agree that “[s]ince Americans are three times as likely to believe in the virgin birth of Jesus as in evolution, liberal derision for President Bush’s religious beliefs risks marginalizing the left.”

But Kristof makes a familiar point which needs to be challenged once again. “Liberals have now become as intemperate as conservatives,” he writes. His proof? Needless to say, Kristof cites the foolish piece in which Jonathan Chait announced his Bush-hatred. But Kristof, scrounging hard for proof, is soon forced to fall back on this foofaw:

KRISTOF: I see the fury in my e-mail messages. In a fairly typical comment, one reader suggested that President Bush and his aides are “lying, cynical greedy pirates who deserve no better than a firing squad.” At this rate, soon we’ll all be so rabid that Ann Coulter will seem normal.
How does Kristof know that libs are as bad as those cons? He knows it from reading his e-mails! We’re sorry, but this just won’t do.

We wouldn’t suggest that you spend your time saying that cons are worse than libs. But remember what we have noted before: It wasn’t everyday people, writing e-mails, who pushed those murder lists against Clinton. It was well-known public figures who peddled those lists, and they were invited to do so on national TV. Similarly, it wasn’t a random bunch of e-mailers who kept trying to prove that Clinton killed Foster. It was major Republicans—can you say “Ken Starr?”—who engaged in this endless political porn. As they did so, “good guy” pundits hid beneath desks, too scared to condemn their behavior.

Are today’s liberals as bad as those cons? Unless you simply enjoy propaganda, the answer quite plainly is “no.” Have you seen Bush murder lists on TV? Have you seen a major “religious figure” selling tapes which call Bush a serial killer? Have you seen a succession of high-profile probes trying to show that Bush killed his best friend? In short, have you seen anything like the wave of insanity that typified the Clinton-Gore years?

No, you haven’t; those eight years were special. But during those years, pundits like Kristof hid beneath desks, silent, trembling, quaking with fear. Now Kristof complains—about naughty libs, claiming they’re as bad as those cons. He gets a few e-mails from fist-waving liberals, and Kristof suddenly finds his voice. Silent then, complaining now: In that odd progression of events, you see the strange shape of an era.

Sorry. No public liberal resembles Ann Coulter, and nothing like the hounding of Clinton has yet been aimed at President Bush. That Clinton era was uniquely deranged. Why can’t Nick Kristof just say it?

POISONING IVINS: How far will Kristof go to prove that libs are just as bad as those cons? Here’s the full passage offering proof:

KRISTOF: [I]t used to be just the Republicans who were intense in their beliefs, while now both sides are frothing.
The latest Progressive magazine features the article “Call Me a Bush-Hater,” and The New Republic earlier published “The Case for Bush Hatred.”
I see the fury in my e-mail messages…
In short, before he begins to quote his e-mails, Kristof cites two published examples of the Bush-hatred. He cites Chait’s piece in the New Republic. He also cites that other column—the one in the Progressive.

But the Progressive piece ain’t what it seems. In this morning’s Times, Progressive editor Matthew Rothschild quotes what its author, Molly Ivins, really said. “It is not necessary to hate George W. Bush to think he’s a bad President,” Ivins wrote. “Grownups can do that, you know. You can decide someone’s policies are a miserable failure without lying awake at night consumed with hatred.” But that’s the column Kristof quotes to prove that Those Liberals Today just hate Bush! “Liberals have now become as intemperate as conservatives?” Incredibly, Kristof offers Ivins’ column as proof!

In fact, an alternate version of Ivins’ piece appeared in papers across the country (including the Washington Post). Here’s a hunk of what she wrote:

IVINS: Over many years of covering politics, I have known and liked a lot of politicians with whom I never agreed about a single thing. Bob Dole and Alan Simpson come to mind as two of my favorite Republicans, and I could list Texas conservatives by the dozens.

As it happens, I have known George W. Bush for a long time—not well, but for a long time. Since we were both in high school. He went to prep school in the East, and I went to prep school in Houston, but he hung around with friends of mine, dated girls I knew. I would never claim we were friends, but he was someone I vaguely knew.

For the six years he was governor of Texas, I watched him closely…Although Bush rather promptly becomes defensive and prickly when questioned, he is by and large perfectly affable. You would have to work at it to dislike him personally. On the occasions when we meet, we would “rib” one another. I personally hope the photo of me sitting on his lap at a Christmas party with him dressed as Santa has disappeared for all time.

Did you know that it is quite possible not to hate someone and at the same time notice their policies are disastrous for people in this country? Quite a thought, isn’t it? Grown-ups can actually do that—can think a policy is disastrous without hating the person behind it…

I honestly don’t think you have to hate someone in politics to think they’re wrong. I would like to remind all the lockstep conservatives that there is a difference between hatred and anger. What you are looking at in this country is not hatred of George W. Bush—a perfectly affable guy—it is growing anger.

In short, Ivins wrote a column to complain when David Brooks called her a Bush-hater in the Times. Amazingly, Kristof cites that very column to show how today’s liberals hate Bush!

Are today’s liberals much like Ann Coulter? Molly Ivins is Kristof’s example! If there’s something wrong with liberals today, Kristof could have said what it was. But you live at a time of deceit and deception. Kristof wanted to type a prime RNC line—and was willing to play you to do it.

THE CHAIT AWARD: Meanwhile, give the Chait Award to Progressive ed Rothschild. He put a “Bush-hater” headline on Ivins’ piece—although she was making the opposite point. He gave his readers a small, pointless thrill—and a piece of propaganda to Kristof.