This morning, New York Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. announced that he'd picked Bill Keller, the Times' former Managing Editor and foreign editor, to replace Howell Raines as Executive Editor. Raines was forced to resign in the wake of the Jayson Blair scandal.
For the past couple of years Keller has penned a column every other Saturday for the Times' op-ed page. Reviewing them, Clay Waters, Editor of the MRC's TimesWatch.org page, discovered that "when it comes to Bush's foreign policy, racial issues, and animus toward conservative personalities and ideas, the new boss could be much like the old boss."
As Clay summarized on the TimesWatch.org home page, "New Times Executive Editor Bill Keller's view of conservatives: Attorney General John Ashcroft is an ayatollah, Senators James Inhofe and Jesse Helms are extremist sleazebags, and oh yeah, Al Gore won."
Before the full rundown, a few of my favorite Keller rants:
-- "I can't count the number of times in the past two years I've heard -- occasionally from my own lips -- the observation that the Bush administration would be a much scarier outfit without Colin Powell."
-- "Promoting freedom abroad will ring a little false as long as the administration is so often, so instinctively, scornful of freedom at home."
-- "The people-versus-the-powerful sloganeering was grating, but on the merits wasn't Mr. Gore right?"
-- "You don't need Ralph Nader to tell you this is an administration that has methodically exalted corporate power and fortified the obscene gap between America's rich and poor."
-- "Senators Helms, Gramm and Thurmond have in common the fact that they harnessed their collective century of seniority to the Taliban wing of the American right."
-- "Our simple-minded political discourse intimidates anyone who might favor raising taxes."
-- "[Gore] was a visionary on the environment."
Here's a selection of quotes from Keller's columns, as collated by Clay Waters:
* Bush Is Screwing Up the War, and U.S. Reputation
# "Since the administration's failed attempt to get U.N. backing for the Iraq war, it seems, the hawks' impatience with plodding multilateralism has been not only vindicated, but also infused with childish vengefulness....In a different world, this might be a case for the new International Criminal Court, but the United States does not recognize its authority. (Neither does Iraq. In their scorn for international justice, Mr. Bush and Saddam Hussein were in full agreement.)"
# "Even if you believe that this war is justified, the route to it has been an ugly display of American opportunism and bullying, dissembling and dissonance....I can't count the number of times in the past two years I've heard -- occasionally from my own lips -- the observation that the Bush administration would be a much scarier outfit without Colin Powell. Allied diplomats,
international businessmen and the American foreign policy mainstream have regarded him as the lone grown-up in an administration with a teenager's twitchy metabolism and self-centered view of the world."
# "If others, including the President, seemed given to hype and swagger, Mr. Powell's word seemed bankable -- at least until the White House began misspending his credibility in its rush to the war that couldn't wait."
# "What his admirers call the Bush Doctrine is so far a crude edifice built of phrases from speeches and strategy documents, reinforced by a pattern of discarded treaties and military deployment. It consists of a determination to keep America an unchallenged superpower, a willingness to forcibly disarm any country that poses a gathering threat and an unwillingness to be constrained by treaties or international institutions that don't suit us perfectly."
# "It's worth remembering that moral certainty led Reagan's administration into the culminating scandal of Iran-contra, the scheme to sell missiles to Iran and divert the profits to arm anti-Communist guerrillas in Nicaragua. Bush has not only rehired several of the Iran-contra intriguers, but he has also reproduced elements of the climate in which the plot was hatched -- obsessive secrecy, a premium on loyalty, a taste for working through foreign proxies, an impatience with Congressional oversight."
# "Finally, promoting freedom abroad will ring a little false as long as the administration is so often, so instinctively, scornful of freedom at home. The automatic recourse to preventive
lockup, the lack of confidence in the criminal justice system, the casual regard for privacy and presumption of innocence, the obsessive secrecy -- you don't have to be a libertarian to wonder
how dearly this administration cherishes the values it promises to export."
* I Hate Conservatives...
# "Senator James Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma: Mr. Inhofe is a dimmer version of Jesse Helms -- an intolerant, xenophobic, might-makes-right ultrapatriot, but not as quick on his feet as Mr. Helms was in his prime. As a member of the Armed Services and Intelligence committees, he has cover to utter bellicose nonsense."
# "Representative Dan Burton, Republican of Indiana: Mr. Burton is the nastiest of the prosecutorial wild men of Capitol Hill, who use their power in pursuit of perceived wrongdoing...If dignity and basic decency count for anything, Mr. Burton belongs on this list."
# "We've got an administration characterized by blind faith in crony capitalism, a drunken spendthrift's version of supply-side economics, and a secretive, country-club executive style. The
people-versus-the-powerful sloganeering was grating, but on the merits wasn't Mr. Gore right?"
# "The silly color-coded gimmicks, the pre-emptive we-told-you-so's, the hype and spin and bluster and political opportunism, the willingness to make terrorism a lobbying prop for every cause on the Republican agenda -- these are eating away at the administration's credibility."
# "And on the subject of compassion, President Bush has more than the usual burden of proof. You don't need Ralph Nader to tell you this is an administration that has methodically exalted
corporate power and fortified the obscene gap between America's rich and poor.
# "I'd like to begin the new year by bidding farewell to three men whose departure will raise the median decency of the United States Senate. In their remaining, lame-duck months, Jesse Helms,
Strom Thurmond and Phil Gramm will enjoy the ritual tributes of colleagues and the sanitized adieus of home-state editorialists. Let's be frank. They will leave behind an institution they have
helped appreciably to debase. Senators Helms, Gramm and Thurmond have in common the fact that they harnessed their collective century of seniority to the Taliban wing of the American right."
# "As David Plotz wrote in Slate, Senator Gramm is a mean, bitter pessimist, but 'he has benefited from one of the strangest prejudices of politics: that meanness is a synonym for integrity.'"
# "Mr. Helms leaves behind at least a double legacy. He helped perfect fear-mongering as a form of fund-raising, using his own and allied political action committees to raise many millions by
appealing to the crudest bigotries of voters....As the senior Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for the past 15 years, and as the mentor of a right-wing mafia within the
Republican Party, he has been an author of much of what makes the world resentful of America: our stingy foreign aid, our lordly attitude toward any multilateral organization, our disdain for
treaties, our support of despotic regimes from apartheid-era South Africa to the juntas of Latin America."
# "Mr. Helms will not be missed;/Unrelenting jingoist,/He sold us bullies of their realms, Not excluding Mr. Helms."
* ...And the Religious Right
# "Is President Bush a religious zealot, or does he just pander to that crowd? That, crudely put, is probably the most persistent question I hear about Mr. Bush when I travel outside the country, and it comes up all the time in the less godly American precincts (universities, Bush-hater Web sites, Hollywood, the island of Manhattan)."
# "Most recently, the President's reluctance to offend Senator Rick Santorum -- a Catholic theocrat who believes that states should have the power to arrest gay lovers in their bedrooms, or even to criminalize couples who use contraceptives -- was an occasion to wonder what, exactly, Mr. Bush was born-again into." -- Keller, "God and George W. Bush," May 17, 2003.
# "Nor can Mr. Bush be claimed by the culture warriors of the Christian right, although he gave them John Ashcroft and occasionally throws them a steak. The President is not a bigot, or a pessimist. He created an office to promote faith-based social services, but has let it languish."
* But I Like Anti-conservative Myths...
# "In fact, if he is not too distracted by fighting a war abroad and shredding civil liberties at home, Mr. Bush has a chance to accomplish three grand purposes in a single feat of political choreography: consolidating the gains of free-market democracy, drawing Russia closer to Europe, and rejuvenating our most important alliance."
# "On the other hand, a candidate whose wealth appears to have kept him out of touch with real life -- think of George Bush puzzling over the novelty of a grocery-store scanner -- may be
* and Race Discrimination
# "'A cynic,' protested The Wall Street Journal, 'might conclude that yesterday's decisions mean universities can still racially discriminate, as long as they're not too obvious about it.' Yes, just so. The editorial might have added that this is pretty much what the first President Bush did when he appointed a black jurist of questionable distinction to the Supreme Court, insisting all the while that it had nothing to do with race."
* Ashcroft the Ayatollah
# "John Ashcroft may talk like an ayatollah, but this week he acted like an attorney general. He dispatched the first indicted suspect in the 9/11 attacks not to a secret military tribunal but to one of those civilian courts he seems to regard as criminal-coddling, secret-spilling, procedure-clogged terrorist pulpits."
* Tax Cuts (Are) for Dummies
# "Democrats can never outflank the Republicans on tax-cutting, and our simple-minded political discourse intimidates anyone who might favor raising taxes."
* Missile Defense: a Dangerous Fantasy
# "The impermeable superdome was a technological fantasy, and one that could have bankrupted the national treasury. Even if it had worked it would have been dangerous, because it would have
encouraged the illusion that we could win a nuclear war."
* And by the Way, Al Gore Really Won
# "And much as I respect Estonia and El Salvador, there is something ridiculous about the list of our "partners" -- a coalition of the anonymous, the dependent, the halfhearted and the uninvolved, whose lukewarm support supposedly confers some moral authority. This is like -- oh, I don't know, wresting a dubious election victory in Florida and claiming a mandate. It lacks a certain verisimilitude."
# "[Gore] was a visionary on the environment. His alarums about global warming have now been confirmed by President Bush's own Environmental Protection Agency -- and, oh yes, by the
melting of Alaska....[Gore] got 537,179 more popular votes, and only lost the Electoral College thanks to a lot of well-documented funny business. The best estimate of the various investigative
For the latest on political bias at the New York Times, check www.timeswatch.org
Looks like we have plenty of material ahead.
-- Brent Baker