Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Sunday Opinion Writers in the New York Times, Dowd, Friedman and Douthat, go 0 for 3, and Strike Out

If This is the Best Journalism,  No One Wants to See the Worst

The Sunday opinion pages of the New York Times used to be great.  They are not great anymore, they are rarely good and this week they are truly awful.  Maureen Dowd, Thomas Friedman and Ross Douthat embarrass themselves and the paper to such a degree that the only proper response can be a cringe, along with a wish that someone at the Times would just fix this.

First up we have Maureen Dowd, a very good writer who used to be insightful and relevant.  This week she devotes a column to Delores Hart (who?).  It turns out Ms. Hart was a movie star for whom great things were predicted.  However Ms. Hart joined a convent instead, and as Ms. Dowd relates, apparently has lived out here life in a fulfilling manner.

Hart soldiers on at the bucolic Abbey of Regina Laudis, a Benedictine monastery and working farm in Bethlehem, Conn., which observes three periods of silence a day. She is a mother prioress and spiritual guide to 38 other nuns (and she is the only nun who is a voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences).

All of the column is a very nice story, and we should all be happy that Ms. Hart got to lead the type of life she wanted to, but the story has absolutely nothing to do with the national scene.  It is irrelevant, and the same can be said for Ms. Dowd.

Next comes Thomas Friedman, who also used to be a great columnist and whose musing on the internationalization of the world provided great insights.  Now Mr. Friedman is pining for a third party candidate.  He has his choice, David Walker (who?)

Walker was the country’s chief auditor, serving from 1998 to 2008 as the U.S. comptroller general. He is currently the chief executive of the Comeback America Initiative (, a nonpartisan group dedicated to getting America’s fiscal house in order. Walker — who came in second to Hillary Clinton in a reader poll that Politico conducted last October for favorite Third Party candidate — told me that he has no desire to run but that he’s been speaking across the country, trying to do what Perot did.

So Mr. Friedman wastes his space by promoting the third party candidacy of a person no one knows, no one has even heard of and who would be a zero factor if he did run.  Just what planet does Mr. Friedman reside on that he thinks time and space should be given to contemplating a run by David Walker as a third party candidate?

Finally we come to Ross Douthat, whose column on abortion and abortion rights is so lacking in logic one wonders how it got past an editor, or even if it was indeed subject to editing.  Mr. Douthat starts out by accurately describing how the abortion rights issue is also about how to reduce abortions and that

Even the most pro-choice politicians, for instance, usually emphasize that they want to reduce the need for abortion, and make the practice rare as well as safe and legal.

which is absolutely correct.  No one is in favor of abortions for the sake of abortions, it can be a terrible thing for a woman and her family to endure.  The argument is about who makes the decision, the woman with consultation from her family and her physician and others, or the government.  Abortion rights advocates believe the decision should be made by the individual, that government has no right to impose its will on the individual.

But Mr. Douthat then goes on to say what can only be described as surely some of the dumbest things ever to grace a respected paper like the New York Times.  First of all he refutes an argument that no one is making, that lack of access to contraception is what causes unwanted pregnancies

To begin with, a lack of contraceptive access simply doesn’t seem to be a significant factor in unplanned pregnancy in the United States. When the Alan Guttmacher Institute surveyed more than 10,000 women who had procured abortions in 2000 and 2001, it found that only 12 percent cited problems obtaining birth control as a reason for their pregnancies. A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study of teenage mothers found similar results: Only 13 percent of the teens reported having had trouble getting contraception.

But then he goes to make the totally idiotic argument that socially liberal policies are associated with “blue” states and those “blue” states have more abortions.

At the same time, if liberal social policies really led inexorably to fewer unplanned pregnancies and thus fewer abortions, you would expect “blue” regions of the country to have lower teen pregnancy rates and fewer abortions per capita than demographically similar “red” regions.

which of course they don't.  But the reason that these more liberal states have more abortions is that the “red” regions have very effectively made abortions extremely difficult to obtain.  This is one absurd argument. The real conclusion here is this:   in states which radically restrict access to abortion services there are fewer abortions.  Why someone should be granted the right to publish in the New York Times to make such an obvious statement is beyond the logic of all of us.

And finally there is this idiocy, which sums up the entire lack of intelligence in the Conservative argument

These are realities liberals should keep in mind when tempted to rail against conservatives for rejecting the intuitive-seeming promise of “more condoms, fewer abortions.” What’s intuitive isn’t always true,

That’s right, Mr. Douthat, is saying having access to condoms and using condoms does not result in fewer abortions.  What logic would support that?

 Here is a message to Mr. Douthat:  Never, ever in the history of the world has a woman who is not pregnant ever had an abortion.  Really, that’s true you can look it up.  And in your case, Mr. Douthat, you probably have to, since the logic of that position is apparently beyond you.

1 comment:

  1. Douthat confuses and conflates "a priori" and "a posteriori". Not difficult for a conservative pundit. Friedman and Dowd have no intellectual faux pas. They are just lame.