Times Watch for August 12, 2003
But Is It a Vast Right-Wing Cabal?
Times Magazine writer Matt Bai again praises a moderate Republican senator fighting extremist and fringe elements to his right. Fight Club profiles Stephen Moore, former scholar at the libertarian Cato Institute and now president of Club for Growth, a group which promotes candidates who promise to lower taxes. The Club is aiming to dethrone the moderate Sen. Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania. Moore, the president of a group of zealous economic conservatives known as the Club for Growth, was talking about Arlen Specter, a giant of the United States Senate and the only Republican moderate in the Senate leadership.
Bai worships at the feet of moderate (and liberal) Republicans like Specter and the late Sen. John Chafee, who he called the soul of the G.O.P.'s moderate faction and a revered statesman in Washington in the March 23 Magazine.
Bai explains Specter is running for a fifth term next year in Pennsylvania, but he now finds himself facing an unexpected, potentially serious primary challenge from the party's right flank. That challenge, from a brash conservative congressman from industrial Allentown named Patrick Toomey, is being engineered by the Club for Growth, whose 10,000 members, most of them gray-suited bankers and businessmen, seem to be on a mission to banish taxes from the earth.
After noting Moores mixed relationship with the White House, Bai helpfully compares Republicans to robots and describes Moores group as radical: This kind of open rebellion is unheard of in Bush's Washington, where party loyalty gets confused with moral rectitude, and where Republicans generally speak with a kind of bland, Orwellian unanimity. The criticism is especially surprising since it comes from activists on the party's economic fringe, at what looks for all the world like their moment of triumph, having just won the largest tax break since Reagan.what could the radical supply-siders possibly have to complain about?"
Then Bai posits, in unironic language reminiscent of Hillary Clinton, the existence of a right-wing cabal, declaring: For much of the first two years of the administration, Moore was part of the right-wing cabal that administration officials would consult on a regular basis. But Moore proved himself disloyal by publicly criticizing Bush and opposing some of his appointments.
Bai wraps things up by terming Moores group extremist: While it's pretty unlikely that the Club for Growth will be running Republican politics anytime soon, it's not a stretch to suggest that in 10 years it will be one of several groups, each with its own extreme agenda, that will dominate the business of campaigns.
For the rest of Matt Bais article on the Stephen Moore and the Club for Growth, click here.
Matt Bai | Cato Institute | Club for Growth | Labeling Bias | Stephen Moore | Sen. Arlen Specter | Supply Side | Taxes
Randy Cohens Continuing Class War
Randy Cohen, who writes The Ethicist column for the Times Sunday magazine, wastes no opportunity to stoke class war. Last year in the left-wing Nation magazine he bashed Bill Bennett in class-war tones: Bennett's heart is with the boss, not the worker (unless the worker is working himself to death); with the general, not the troops.
Last Sunday, criticizing a man who bought three airplane seats so he and his girlfriend could have an empty seat between them, he wedged in a similar argument: What rankles here is not your vulgar display of wealth. These days, many people are more apt to envy the rich than to throw snowballs at their top hats (unfortunately, in my view).Most of us accept the privileges money can buy (especially if it is we who are driving the S.U.V.), but we don't like having our noses rubbed in it. So on your next flight, if your neighbors grow restive, try to direct the mob toward the first-class cabin. Or the Hamptons. Or the U.S. Senate. Or some other place where millionaires convene in comfort.
For the rest of Cohens Ethicist column, click here.
Class Warfare | Randy Cohen | Columnists | Ethicist
The Times Stands for Common Decency (Part I )
The Times comes out big for common decency Tuesday, although not in the way a social conservative might define the term. A Public Lives profile by Robin Finn, Third-Party Organizer Works for Populisms Future, is yet another example of the Times using the recurring feature as a way to inject left-wing figures into the news.
Dan Cantor of the organizer for the New York based Working Families Party: What Mr. Cantor, executive director of the party, is organizing from this hardscrabble headquarters in Downtown Brooklyn is a third-party political movement steeped in populist values and-no joke-common decency. It's ideals-are-us politics. As he sees it, Working Families is a new take on a New Deal premise: better public schools, housing and wages.
Finn at least describes Cantor as a leftover leftist as he basks in her warm praise: Mr. Cantor, the sharpie, has already figured out that the surest way to prevent a guest from poking fun at his earnestness is to do it himself. (He mentions, with a disarming grin, that for him, idealism is a more useful commodity than cynicism.) Touch: the high ground goes to the guy who reads Primo Levi and confines spats with his wife to whether television or the automobile is mankind's most divisive invention. The long winter evenings must just fly at the Cantor residence.
For the rest of Finns story on Dan Cantor, click here.
Dan Cantor | Robin Finn | Public Lives | Working Families Party
The Times Stands for Common Decency (Part II)
In a Tuesday story by Adam Liptak, the Times notes the importance of standards of decency-as long as theyre used to further liberal causes like opposing the death penalty. Along with the headline U.S. Judge Sees Growing Signs That Innocent Are Executed, the article includes this loaded subhead: Executions versus societys standards of decency.
Its a rather overplayed story on a decision by Judge Mark L. Wolf of the federal District Court in Boston. While allowing a capital case to proceed to trial, Wolf also wrote, "The day may come when a court properly can and should declare the ultimate sanction to be unconstitutional in all cases." The judge also publicly pondered "how large a fraction of the executed must be innocent to offend contemporary standards of decency. That gave the Times headline writers an opportunity to inject morality into a political debate (a privilege the Times generally denies to conservatives).
Liptak says the judge found mounting evidence innocent people were being executed. But he declined to rule the death penalty unconstitutional. Awfully sporting of the judge not to overturn the constitution, dont you think?
For the rest of Adam Liptaks death penalty story, click here.
Constitution | Crime | Death Penalty | Adam Liptak | Judge Mark Wolf