Hey, This Isn't the Cold War

Some of the smartest people in a business that requires some smarts are behaving pretty stupidly in one respect. I think the whole country is the loser. I'm referring to the newspaper business and in particular to The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.The two aren't alone. A number of persons and organizations who were in the trenches, so to speak, during the Cold War aren't adjusting to the reality that, hey, our side won. But it's eight years now since all that happened. The Kremlin imploded. The Berlin Wall came down and Germany united. Those Eastern bloc regimes unraveled. So: lower your rifles.I can't remember so much as a week in the past few years when the contrast between the news columns and the opinion pages of the Journal wasn't striking. The Journal is arguably the most reliable national daily in America. But there are days you'd swear the writers who shape the editorial page don't even read the pages wrapped around it. I simply mean that the ideology of that page is so passionate that its assertions may not square at all with facts emerging in a breaking story in the news columns.That editorial intensity was in part shaped by a commitment to the marketplace so strong (understandably) that an abhorrence of the Communist world's hostility to the very idea of the marketplace would at times commingle on economic issues here at home.Today the Journal behaves editorially as if its economic-issue adversaries were enemies of freedom with sinister goals. For one important example, together with the Times it behaves as if Bill Clinton occupies the Kremlin, not the White House, and through his Asian connections in Arkansas he sold out to Red China in order to finance the 1996 presidential election campaign.To try to jolt those editors back to reality, if they could hear me I would point out that during my early years in politics another journalistic giant, Time magazine, put more faith in China's Chiang Kai-Chek than in our own State Department. Before and during World War II, the New York Times identified more with Great Britain that with Franklin D. Roosevelt who declared war only when Pearl Harbor was bombed.The fingers of both hands aren't enough to count the Latin American and Asian nations whose causes were adopted by much of the press corps, never mind the politicians, as America's causes during my adult lifetime of more than half a century.Now that we're top dog worldwide and any nation or company can find cause to get us aboard, this summer's senate inquiry into campaign funding is important. The press corps has handled it badly. It takes too many clues from the likes of the Times pundit Bill Safire. To that former Nixon speech writer, Bill and Hillary Clinton are felons because they lived in Arkansas like Arkansans, not in civilization as he knows it and insists on defining it.Today's Safires and Journal editorialists are more personally vindictive toward the sitting president than they were toward the rulers of Red China and the Soviet Union in the era for which they have found no substitute and from which they remain unweaned.That distorted perspective contributes in turn to the sophomoric conduct of the bloodier of the Republican freshmen elected to the House in 1994. They have yet to realize that their Democratic seat mates and those Republican moderates from north of the Mason-Dixon line are fellow Americans. Not anti-American. Not degenerates. Not the nation's enemies.The contribution of the evangelical Right has been to turn our national seat of government into the new evil empire for lack of Godless Communism to rail and run against.This is the post-Cold War domestic swamp from which our leaders will presently extricate us, I hope. Meanwhile a press that sees crocodiles everywhere provides no help. I am especially ashamed of the two who are big enough, old enough and once smart enough to know better.Perry Swisher, as far was we know, accepted no money from China before writing this column.

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