Feature

Best columns: U.S.

The pipe dream known as bipartisanship
Jonathan Chait
Los Angeles Times

After seven divisive years of the Bush administration, politicians from Barack Obama to Fred Thompson are now calling for a new era of bipartisanship. “It will never work,” said Jonathan Chait. For a few decades after World War II, Democrats and Republicans did, in fact, work reasonably well together, finding common ground on everything from civil rights to the Cold War. Back then, though, you could still find lots of liberal Republicans and just as many conservative Southern Democrats. Not anymore. The rise of the conservative movement in the 1980s forced both parties to embrace more distinct ideologies. White Southerners flocked to the GOP; Northern liberals joined the Democrats. The parties now represent starkly different constituencies with strong, philosophical disagreements about almost everything, from the war in Iraq to taxes to global warming to abortion. Sure, “it would be nice if a new president could come and work with both sides to solve our problems.” But on either side of their vast ideological gulf, liberals and conservatives no longer even agree “what the problems are”—let alone how to solve them through friendly, bipartisan compromise.

How the Times betrayed itsown values
Clark Hoyt
The New York Times

For two weeks now, critics have been hammering The New York Times over its handling of the now-famous MoveOn.org ad denouncing “General Betray Us.” My own investigation, said Times ombudsman Clark Hoyt, suggests the critics are right. Conservatives have accused the Times of giving the liberal activist group a deep discount on the ad attacking the credibility of Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq. The Times charged MoveOn.org its lowest price for a full-page ad, $64,575. After days of denying any favorable treatment, the Times now admits that since MoveOn.org was given a say over when the ad ran, it should have been charged $142,083. That “error’’ was blamed on a salesman. In attacking Petraeus’ honesty and character, the ad also seemed to violate the newspaper’s “own written standards” for advocacy ads, which bar “attacks of a personal nature.” By ignoring those standards, the newspaper has given “fresh ammunition to a cottage industry that loves to bash the Times as a bastion of the ‘liberal media.’”

Larry Craig’s sudden interest in civil liberties  
Adam Cohen
The New York Times

On the law, Sen. Larry Craig is absolutely right, said Adam Cohen. He’s asking a Minnesota judge to undo his guilty plea for soliciting sex in a public men’s room. Clearly, the state law under which he was convicted—which turns coded signals like foot tapping into a crime—is unconstitutional. “It is hard, though, to be entirely sympathetic.” In Congress, Craig has rubber-stamped the Bush administration’s appointment of Supreme Court and other federal judges who have disdain for civil liberties and “who are strikingly unmoved by claims of injustice.” The new conservative majority on the Supreme Court, for example, recently refused to let a jailed Ohio man appeal his conviction because he filed his legal papers two days late. A judge had given him the wrong deadline. Too bad! said the court. On the day he returned to the Senate last week, Craig had the gall to vote to block court access for accused terrorists now sitting at Guant

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