I KNOW, we've played this game before, but, really: supposing you had some degree of influence over the contents of The Nation's Op-Ed Pages of Record, is this the sort of thing you'd continence? Even supposing you felt, for philosophical, political, or economic reasons that the section should reflect "both sides", or "a wide-ranging sample of contemporary viewpoints", or "some sop to the Right as a CYA for
It takes him six words to mention Al Gore, and a restrained 437 before Bill Clinton exposes himself. Clinton, you'll recall, single-handedly rolled the entire Republican party in eau de McVey after the Murrah Building bombing. Douthat certainly remembers, because he was all of fifteen, and no doubt took extensive notes.
Never mind, of course, that the Oklahoma City bombing--once Bob Dole's instant analysis that "Arabs" were the obvious perpetrators became inoperative--marks the first of two occasions in postwar US history when the party on the Right opposed unfettered police powers (the other being John Ashcroft's post-9/11 intervention on behalf of responsible owners of private arsenals the size of Chechnya's).
Timothy McVeigh’s connections to Republican politics were several degrees short of tangential, but Clinton successfully linked the heartland terrorist to talk radio and the government shutdown, implying that McVeigh’s crime was part of a broader story of antigovernment conservatism run amok.
You'll have to forgive me forgetting that that occurred; somehow to me the Oklahoma City terror bombing was a big enough deal that I didn't look to Bill Clinton to explain it to me. But, then, I was just an adult.
Listen, goddam it: there are dozens of people chattering on the internets as we speak, and it doesn't matter what any of 'em are saying. It certainly doesn't matter enough that the Times has to pay some maroon to do this little tap dance every time another of his petards goes off unexpectedly. Nutjobs sometimes kill people; sometimes enough people that they impinge themselves for a moment on the raging Korsakoff's Syndrome that is popular culture and political commentary. It may be that we need to understand such people better, that we need to air our opinions about their possible motives. If so, having Ross Douthat to do it for us is worse than not doing it at all. There's plenty of room for these gotcha games to play themselves out endlessly; if Douthat needs to participate he should give up the grueling one-column-per-week pace that was encroaching on his parenting time earlier this year and stick to yelling at the six or eight people who watch him on Bloggingheads. The fucking thing about tragedies such as Norway is that in the end they don't mean anything at all. And if we are going to talk about them, maybe our first (and, wishful thinking alert, our only) consideration ought to be how to keep weapons which permit mass killing out of the hands of people willing to commit mass killings.