There’s a lot of competition for that honor, but this column by Gail Collins just might get top (bottom?) prize. Unwilling to wait the last two months of the end-of-Bush-Presidency countdown, or to let the Constitution take its course, Collins calls for the immediate resignation of President Bush. Apparently she just can’t tolerate another moment of the man, now that the end is in sight.
Where does the Times get these people, and why are their thoughts considered fit to print? It’s not as though Collins is a newby, either. On looking up her bio, I discovered that she was the first female editor of the Times‘ editorial page, serving in that capacity from 2001 to 2007. Before and after that she had/has been a columnist. Nor should she be ignorant of the topic on which she speaks; her degree was not only in journalism, but she earned a Master’s in government as well.
This proves two things: not only is it possible to rise to a high position at the Times and still be foolish as well as ignorant, but it’s also possible to get a degree in government and not have any practical understanding of it. I suppose neither thing should surprise me in the least at this point. But I still consider them remarkable.
Collins isn’t just calling for Bush to resign, either—”obviously,” she says, Cheney’s got to go too. Obviously. As a result we would then get the interim presidency of none other than Nancy Pelosi, a development certain to reassure just about nobody—with the possible exceptions of Ms. Pelosi herself, her immediate family, and Gail Collins.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would become president until Jan. 20. Obviously, she’d defer to her party’s incoming chief executive, and Barack Obama could begin governing.
I’m not sure Pelosi would defer to anything or anybody, especially after she got a taste of the highest position in the land without benefit of having had to earn it. The damage she might do in even two short months could be formidable. And how this turn of events would ultimately help Obama’s Presidency is exceedingly unclear.
Ms. Collins does manage to make a historical comparison, and the one she offers is telling:
In the past, presidents have not taken well to suggestions that they hand over the reins before the last possible minute. Senator J. William Fulbright suggested a plan along those lines when Harry Truman was coming to the end of a term in a state of deep unpopularity, and Truman called him “Halfbright” for the rest of his life.
Truman was deeply unpopular, it’s true. And yet now he is usually ranked among the top ten Presidents in history, most often around number seven. Funny how that can happen.
Collins’ column has a juvenile, snarky tone that shows about as much respect for Bush—and, even more importantly, for the office of the Presidency and the rule of law—as her suggestion does. In fact, what she mostly expresses is contempt, and the now-familiar attitude of the sore winner.
Not only does Collins fail to understand that it is hugely important to adhere to the Constitutional rules set up for the peaceful transition of power, a widely-admired process that makes the US an example to the world, but in the extremity of her shortsighted anti-Bush partisanship she fails to understand that we cannot automatically assume that it’s the Bush Presidency that’s causing the markets to tank. Another perspective is that it may be the prospect of change in a time of crisis, and fear of the unknown policies of an untested Obama, causing at least some of the increased panic.
Markets tend in general to dislike instability. So Collins’ bright idea of adding even more instability to the present toxic mix is an exceedingly poor one.
If Ms. Collins is joking, it’s a lousy joke at a very poor time. If she’s serious, it’s just further evidence—not that we needed it—that the NY Times long ago dropped all semblance of objective reporting. At least it’s not pretending any more.