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The Sun Also Decompensates

04/05/2007 10:39 pm 22:39:48 | Updated May 25, 2011

More proof--as if any were needed--that the political right in this country is steadily losing its mind comes in the form of an editorial on April 4 (yes, of 2007) from The New York Sun, a daily (Mon-Fri) broadsheet.

I have a soft spot in my heart for this Sun, if only because (and it is only because) its logo, or colophon, or escutcheon, or whatever that official little drawing is called at the top of the front page, so closely resembles that of the Baltimore Sun, the once- and still-noble daily I grew up with.

I can't quite make out the motto emblazoned triumphantly on the banner beneath the two women and the rising Sol spreading its beneficent rays across land and sea, but I'm pretty sure it reads "We're Either Stupid or Insane, And We Could Be Both." What else can it say when, as Wikipedia informs us, "The paper courted controversy in 2003 with an unsigned February 6 editorial arguing that protestors against the Iraq war should be prosecuted for treason."

This, note, from a journal whose editor-in-chief, Seth Lipsky, has (again, per Wikipedia) described the agenda of the paper's prominent op-ed page as "limited government, individual liberty, constitutional fundamentals, equality under the law, economic growth ... standards in literature and culture, education."

Yeah--"standards." That old wheeze.

But someone will ask, What better way to promote individual liberty, Constitutional fundamentals, and equality under the law than by prosecuting protestors for treason? I think I might best answer such a query, however rhetorical, by saying, "No, shut up, see, they want Dick Cheney to run for president."

Under the two-fisted, pulp-Western headline "Cheney's Chance," the editorial begins, "For all the talk about potential candidates who haven't entered the 2008 presidential race -- from Mayor Bloomberg to Vice President Gore to Senator Thompson and Speaker Gingrich -- the one that who would bring the most to the race is Vice President Cheney." Thus put, this "topic sentence" promises an amusingly presumptuous two-page essay from a reasonably intelligent third-grader, a hand-written homework assignment that has somehow found its way onto the editorial page of an actual newspaper for grown-ups.

"The most what?" the child's teacher would rightly ask. "The most terrible reputation for public service since Caligula? The most execrable poll numbers in living memory? The most consistent history of steady, relentless, and shameless lying since Jon Lovitz was on SNL? BE SPECIFIC."

But we read on, and our worst fears are confirmed: This editorial, by adults, for adults, means what it says. And what does it say?

"Mr. Cheney has virtues as a candidate in his own right. He has foreign policy experience by virtue of having served as defense secretary, and he has economic policy experience, having served as a leading tax-cutter while a member of the House of Representatives."

This is the same, in its plausibility and intellectual honesty, as saying, "Mr. Capone's qualifications for Mayor not only include his intimate familiarity with Chicago's vibrant Italian community, but also his extensive business experience, particularly in the vital fields of beverage importing, human resource management, and various branches of the city's fast-growing leisure-services sector."

But you know those neo-conservatives: in for a penny, in for a pound. "His wife, Lynne, would be an asset to the ticket in her own right, a point made by Kathryn Jean Lopez in a post on the topic at National Review Online back in February. By our rights, Lynne Cheney would make one of the greatest First Ladies in history."

("By our rights"? the teacher underlines, circles, and festoons with question marks. "Don't you mean 'by our LIGHTS'"?)

Granted, the less said, by anyone, in any context, about Lynn Cheney, the better. Speaking of pulp Western fiction: Here is a woman who, while our brave men and women are dying in Iraq, has demonstrated a cowardice almost beyond human comprehension, by denying that she included a scene of Lesbian love (however horribly written) in Sisters, the famous--well, notorious--novel she published in 1981.

(Oh, all right: download the whole thing, and watch Mrs. Cheney offer lame, I-did-not-have-sex-with-that-woman style evasions to Wolf Blitzer about it, here. There are tasty--sorry; representative--samples of text (about menstruation, condoms, how "a wave of revulsion swept over" someone, etc.) on the web page.)

The editorial goes on to extol Mr. Cheney with the following, and I urge you to join me in shaking your head and reaching for the Visine to make sure you've read it correctly:

"Lawrence Kudlow wrote a column a while back saying he hoped President Bush asked Vice President Cheney to run for president in 2008. It was a fine idea then and it still is -- not because the current field is particularly weak, but because Mr. Cheney is so much more experienced and shrewd a figure, one who could help settle some of the arguments about the Bush years in favor of Mr. Bush."

I honestly don't know--and stop smirking; you honestly don't know, either--what they mean by "help settle some of the arguments about the Bush years in favor of Mr. Bush." But it sounds threatening. Will President Cheney, in an effort to persuade us that George W. Bush wasn't actually the catastrophe we know he is, come to our home and personally beat us up? (That I would vote for.) Or, in a manner commensurate with the power and dignity of his office, simply command the Ministry of Information to alter all the relevant official documents to record, "Mr. Bush was right and everyone else was wrong"?

But wait, there's more. It turns out that a "White House aiming to get Mr. Cheney elected could also avoid some of the hazards that befall lame-ducks -- drift, brain drain, irrelevance. Such a campaign might lift Mr. Cheney 's own standing in the polls."

Got that? Cheney should run, in spite of his low standing in the polls, because running might lift his standing. In the polls. In which his standing is so bad. For now. Until he runs.

Meanwhile, it would constitute a signal accomplishment to which the Bush administration might point with pride, were it to achieve, at this point, drift, brain drain, and irrelevance.

"This is not an endorsement," we are reassured, if faintly, "and there are things we find attractive about many of the other candidates. But for those of us who are concerned with extending Mr. Bush's campaign for freedom around the world and cutting taxes at home, a Cheney campaign is attractive."

Actually, the clunky double use of "attractive," and the general soul-killing ineptitude of the writing overall, suggest that this was written by a non-writer and even a non-editor. By a publisher, say. We'll never know and, if we somehow find out, we won't care.

What matters is that the New York Sun has proven that big-city sophistos with a computer and a dream are just as capable of writing sub-imbecilic editorials, praising the worst people in the world for made-up, phony, nonsensical, and deeply disingenuous reasons, as any provincial Republican yahoo in the Mid-West or the Sunbelt or, for that matter, in any accredited psychiatric institution.

It's called "having standards," thank you. And you wondered why EDITORIAL is an anagram of REAL IDIOT?