From preening paternalism to anti-war paranoia, New York Times editor Andrew Rosenthal continues to mold the paper's Sunday Review into his own left-wing image. The latest example: Liberal bioethicist Ezekiel Emanuel, a frequent Times contributor, goes after "The High Cost of Free Office Snacks."
Emanuel, a proponent of national health care, actually suggested "dried seaweed" as a plausible option in lieu of cookies and candy. (To be fair, in last week's Times Emanuel laid out his opposition to legalized euthanasia, a position supported by most liberals.)
Technology companies are famous for providing free food for their employees. Office areas stocked with snacks are great for morale and promote random interactions that often generate new ideas.
The problem is that free food, if it’s the wrong kind, is not really free. It can kill you -- or at least make you fat and unhealthy.
As mayor of New York, Michael R. Bloomberg has prioritized health initiatives, working to enact policies that reduce the size of soft drinks and require restaurants to limit trans fats and post calorie counts. But what about free snack bars? Are they as healthy as they could be?
Not long ago, I was at Mr. Bloomberg’s company to tape an early morning television show. When I arrived, I was led to a spot near the free snack bar and motioned to indulge myself. What did I find? One-ounce packages of Keebler Elf Grahams, each containing 120 calories, 105 milligrams of salt and 8 grams of sugar; two-cookie packages of Fig Newtons at 200 calories, 220 milligrams of salt and 23 grams of sugar; and a variety of potato chips, including Lay’s Classic chips, with 160 calories, 1.5 grams of saturated fat (the bad kind) and 170 milligrams of salt. When I finished with the television show, I noticed that bowls of bananas and apples, along with a selection of breakfast cereals, had been added to the snack bar. But the junk food remained.
Emanuel tried to help out: "As for packaged snacks, how about dried seaweed -- just 30 calories, 50 milligrams of salt and no sugar." He concluded by endorsing the infantilization of professional working adults: "Companies that care about their employees should get rid of unhealthy packaged snack food. Get me the yogurt, nuts and fruit."
Fastidiousness is never a good sign in a general officer. Though strutting military peacocks go back to Alexander’s time, our first was MacArthur, who seemed at times to care more about how much gold braid decorated the brim of his cap than he did about how many bodies he left on beachheads across the Pacific. Next came Westmoreland, with his starched fatigues in Vietnam. In our time, Gen. David H. Petraeus has set the bar high. Never has so much beribboned finery decorated a general’s uniform since Al Haig passed through the sally ports of West Point on his way to the White House.
And now comes “Dave” Petraeus, and the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. No matter how good he looked in his biographer-mistress’s book, it doesn’t make up for the fact that we failed to conquer the countries we invaded, and ended up occupying undefeated nations.
The genius of General Petraeus was to recognize early on that the war he had been sent to fight in Iraq wasn’t a real war at all. This is what the public and the news media -- lamenting the fall of the brilliant hero undone by a tawdry affair -- have failed to see. He wasn’t the military magician portrayed in the press; he was a self-constructed hologram, emitting an aura of preening heroism for the ever eager cameras.
The thing he learned to do better than anything else was present the image of The Man You Turn To When Things Get Tough. (Who can forget the Newsweek cover, “Can This Man Save Iraq?” with a photo of General Petraeus looking very Princeton-educated in his Westy-starched fatigues?) He was so good at it that he conned the news media into thinking he was the most remarkable general officer in the last 40 years, and, by playing hard to get, he conned the political establishment into thinking that he could morph into Ike Part Deux and might one day be persuaded to lead a moribund political party back to the White House.