A Tired Ritual of Punditry

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Reading Frank Bruni’s column is like helping a kid with a homework assignment: You slog through it dutifully even though you know you won’t learn anything. Today’s entry is about how “dispiriting,” “familiar,” “tired,” etc., the Iowa debate and straw poll were. This is of course itself a well-worn genre of political journalism — file it under “this is no way to pick a president!” — although Bruni betrays no awareness of the fact.

Bruni complains that the Republican candidates have been “dwelling on their opposition to gay marriage and trumpeting their anti-abortion credentials.” He then comments,

Those aren’t and can’t be the issues this time around. Not with the European debt crisis threatening to become a worldwide contagion, London burning, the Arab world convulsing, the Dow jackhammering and America’s crisis of joblessness grinding on and on. Not now.

It’s time for nobler, smarter, more substantive politics.

Roughly a quarter of the rest of the column is then spent on criticizing the candidates’ views on homosexuality, while the European debt crisis, London, and the Arab world are dropped as topics. Anyway: When Barack Obama told Planned Parenthood he supported taxpayer funding of abortion, do you remember Bruni, or anyone else in the Times, complaining about his wasting time on this distracting issue? Me neither. It’s almost as though . . . Nah, couldn’t be.

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