If you’re in the market for overwrought hyperbole designed to overcompensate for a lack of substance, The New York Times has you covered.
The Times editorial board is many things, but cutting edge arbiters of cultural phenomena is not one of them. Take, for example, their latest criticism of Republicans. Get this: They’re racist. But The Times is warning that what was once the GOP’s “brutal racism” toward the president has evolved into a new, more insidious form of racially inspired criticism that is subtler than its previous incarnation. You might call it “dog whistle” racism. At least, that’s what MSNBC took to calling it at least three times per hour over the course of the entire 2012 presidential election cycle.
The Times fretted that Republicans are today questioning Obama’s very legitimacy as America’s commander-in-chief in the same way that GOP leaders like… well… Orly Taitz and Donald Trump did in 2010. “It is a line of attack that echoes Republicans’ earlier questioning of Mr. Obama’s American citizenship,” the editorial read. “Those attacks were blatantly racist in their message — reminding people that Mr. Obama was black, suggesting he was African, and planting the equally false idea that he was secretly Muslim.”
“Perhaps the most outrageous example of the attack on the president’s legitimacy was a letter signed by 47 Republican senators to the leadership of Iran saying Mr. Obama had no authority to conclude negotiations over Iran’s nuclear weapons program,” The Times averred. “Try to imagine the outrage from Republicans if a similar group of Democrats had written to the Kremlin in 1986 telling Mikhail Gorbachev that President Ronald Reagan did not have the authority to negotiate a nuclear arms deal at the Reykjavik summit meeting that winter.”
This is so patently silly that it barely merits a response.
First, the assumption that this letter is an example of subtle racist antipathy toward Obama is apparently assumed, which tells you quite a bit about this editorial’s intended audience. Secondly, the notion that this letter was some display of unprecedented disrespect toward a sitting president was thoroughly debunked weeks ago. Even the example used here, the failed disarmament talks at Reykjavik, is a questionable precedent to cite. When a Democratic president was bucking his party and popular opinion by negotiating the SALT II arms limitation agreement with the Soviets, Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd personally traveled to Leningrad to explain to General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev “the requirements of our Constitution.” Byrd and others opposed the SALT II agreement, and took it upon himself to note that the ultimate terms would have to be ratified by a skeptical Senate.
It is far less likely that The Times editorial board is unaware of this and other precedents than it is that it doesn’t care if it misleads the liberal zealots reading this progressive sermon.
The Times went on to note that those states and municipalities that refuse to acknowledge Obama’s executive orders on immigration “sounds an awful lot like John C. Calhoun’s secessionist screed of 1828.” The editorial board insisted that Republicans who argue these orders exceed Obama’s authority had no similar objections when President George W. Bush “used his executive authority to authorize the torture of terrorism suspects and tap the phones of American citizens.” Except Barack Obama’s immigration actions have been halted by a federal judge in Texas, a revelation The Times editorial board might have read about in the pages of its own publication. That justice is “convinced” Obama exceeded his constitutional authority, and he has chided the Justice Department for willfully misleading his court in defense of the administration.
The Times further insisted that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision to advise local municipalities to ignore enhanced Environmental Protection Agency regulations restricting CO2 emissions is another example of the resurgence of secessionist impulses by an irrationally hateful GOP. Putting the suspect merits of this argument aside for a moment, it is perfectly unclear how McConnell is appealing to latent racism here. The Times editorial declines to make that case. Perhaps that is because the evidence necessary to support that assertion convincingly just doesn’t exist.
In October, The Times editorial board published what I dubbed their most embarrassing opinion yet. At the height of the midterm election cycle, the editorial board contended that Democrats had failed Obama. They had failed to assertively defend his policies, “allowing a Republican narrative to take hold.” They had failed to combat racist tropes about the president, and that racism was costing Democratic Senate nominees like Georgia’s Michelle Nunn and Kentucky’s Allison Lundergan Grimes support in the polls. “By not standing firmly for their own policies, Democrats send a message to voters that the unending Republican criticism of the president is legitimate,” The Times editorial board whined.
So, by The Times own admission, the GOP’s imagined crusade to delegitimize Barack Obama has some willing accomplices inside the Democratic Party. Wreckers and saboteurs, the lot of them. The same New York Times editorial board that could not be bothered to perform a simple Google search before mischaracterizing the National Rifle Association’s convention rules is apparently unconcerned with consistency in this case. Shocking, I know.
Increasingly, The Times editorial board appears to view as its mission the rote reiteration of liberal shibboleths. It long ago stopped caring about convincing the incredulous. Today, the paper primarily goes about reinforcing the left’s prejudices and preconceptions. “The nation’s most embarrassing editorial board” is a dubious honor, but it is one The Times appears to be aggressively courting.