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Question of the Day

"What is it about writing for The New York Times that makes people stupid," James Bowman asks:

Paul Krugman’s recent attempt to blame Sarah Palin for the actions of the deranged murderer Jared Loughner was only the latest of many proofs he has given that you don’t have to have a lick of common sense to win the Nobel Prize in economics. And the arrival in Washington of the Chinese president, Hu Jintao, is a reminder of one of the most unforgettable of many instances of political and moral imbecility on the part of the Times’s star columnist and best-selling author Tom Friedman, when he compared the Chinese dictatorship favorably to America’s democracy because the latter was failing to act with sufficient dispatch to suit him in order to pass economically crippling legislation on energy and climate change.

Now today Nicholas D. Kristof has decided to give Mr Friedman a run for his dunce-cap by comparing Mr Hu and his fellow Chinese oligarchs to the former president and vice-president of these United States. After criticizing China’s human rights record and America’s response to it even under President Obama ("How can one Nobel Peace Prize laureate be silent when meeting the man who imprisons the next?") he goes on to write:

My take is that China is going through a period resembling the Bush era in the United States: hawks and hard-liners have gained ground in domestic politics, and they scoff at the country’s diplomats as wimps. China’s foreign ministry seems barely a player. Domestic concerns trump all else, partly because Chinese leaders are nervous about stability and about the delicate transition to Mr. Xi and his team two years from now. A Chinese poll has found that public satisfaction is at its lowest level in 11 years, and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao upset hard-liners by calling publicly for more pluralism (he was censored). The upshot is that China- Firsters — Chinese versions of Dick Cheney — have a greater voice. Brace yourself.

When, I wonder, does Mr Kristof imagine that someone other than the alleged "China-Firsters" have been in charge in the Middle Kingdom? Perhaps he believes that Deng Xioaping when he was massacring thousands in Tiananmen Square or Chairman Mao when he was starving millions of peasants to death in the 1950s or unleashing the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s could have taken Mr Cheney’s correspondence course in being a "hard-liner"?

Meanwhile, at PJM, Zombie explores "Human Rights Imperialism: Leftist Satire or Moral Collapse?"

The Guardian recently published a wicked satire of moral relativism, a Swiftian send-up entitled “End human rights imperialism now” with the classic sub-heading “Groups such as Human Rights Watch have lost their way by imposing western, ‘universal’ standards on developing countries.” Brilliant! Hahahahaha! I didn’t know the Guardian had branched out into humor.

But about five minutes after my laughter subsided, a horrible suspicion dawned on me: Could it be that the author was serious?

A quick re-read confirmed my fears. This was no joke. This was the modern left finally taking its last inevitable step into the abyss of moral oblivion.

F. Scott Fitzgerald famously wrote, "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function."

But he never said how long that intelligence would continue to function before the inevitable crack-up occurs.

Related: Of course, the same question that Bowman asks about the New York Times could also be applied to their counterpart at the other end of the Northeast Corridor.