“The best surprise,” a Holiday Inn commercial crowed, “is no surprise.” “Never varies,” proclaimed the ad-men for Dewar’s Scotch. And here we have our former paper of record, the New York Times. It never disappoints. “Slice him where you like,” Bertie Wooster observed, “a hellhound is always a hellhound.” Regular readers know that I rarely see the Times these days. It’s been several years since I cancelled my subscription — O frabjous day! — and I confess I have never missed it. Occasionally a preposterous piece by Frank Rich, Paul Krugman, or some other left-wing fantasist comes to my notice, but by and large I, like some many others, have consigned the paper to the great mental recycling bin marked “irrelevant.” So it is always gratifying when I come across a physical copy of the paper and discover — lo! — all my prejudices are yet again confirmed.
Consider today’s paper. I am up in Northwest Connecticut visiting friends for whom perusal of several papers, including the Times, is a daily ritual. So what’s up in the paper today? How’s this for the lead front-page headline:
Can you believe it? O, those naughty rich folk, daring to cut back on spending during hard times. The aura of disapproval suffused the article, written, amusingly enough, by someone called Motoko Rich. Just as Paul Krugman has been shouting that the problem with the most profligate administration in history is that — wait for it! — it has not been spending enough money, so Ms. Rich implies that the wealthy are somehow to blame for being cautious about spending at a time of grave economic uncertainty, not to say “peril.” Never mind that one reason many affluent people are affluent is that they, unlike the U.S. government and many states, are careful not to spend more than they take in. We must put that out of our minds if we are to play the game of “blame the rich.”
Why has the recovery stalled? The real answer is because of the stupid, wealth-killing policies of the Obama administration. But it pleases the Times, just as it pleases Washington, to pretend that “the rich” are somehow to blame. And what a nice hook to hang the charge upon: in these tough times, the rich are closing their wallets just when Obama says they should open them.
I couldn’t help but snort with irritated disbelief when I cast my eyes over that story. I suppose I should have been pleased. After all, it amply confirmed my conviction that the New York Times occupies a airless eyrie far removed from reality. Really, it’s less a newspaper than a public nuisance.