Left Heaps Scorn on Times, Right Heaps Same on Stein

Bloggers mock the New York Times for calling for a filibuster of Samuel Alito and attack a Los Angeles Times columnist for writing that he doesn't support the troops.

The New York Times came out with guns blazing on its editorial page today, booming that spineless senators should on principle oppose Samuel Alito’s confirmation to the Supreme Court — but for a number of bloggers, the Times’ call to arms is too little, too late.

“Even a losing battle would draw the public’s attention to the import of this nomination,” wrote the Times. “A filibuster is a radical tool. It’s easy to see why Democrats are frightened of it. But from our perspective, there are some things far more frightening. One of them is Samuel Alito on the Supreme Court.”

“I am floored. The New York Times, in its lead editorial in Thursday’s edition, calls for Senate Democrats to filibuster Samuel Alito in a losing cause,” replied the Left Coaster. “Yowza.”

Susan Nunes was not as stunned: “Now that Scalito will be likely be confirmed, the NYT speaks out and says there should be a filibuster. A day late and a million dollars short, I’m afraid.” Impolitical, too, has doubts about the piece’s efficacy. “Second blistering editorial in a week. Like a voice crying out in the night. Will anyone hear it?” Impolitical writes. “Quite a compelling case made here to vote against Elito [sic], even for the filibuster. But it’s all political and Democrats are laying down again in the face of the monster PR machine backing the Repubs that has made Elito [sic], despite all evidence to the contrary, into a bland non-issue.”

“Now that the end is near some papers are finally starting to scream in panic,” declares Debsweb, dismissing the Senate as a bunch of jellyfish. After quoting the Times’ worry that what Alito and chief justice John Roberts said at their confirmation hearings on the limits of executive power could matter very little with lifetime appointments in hand, Debsweb strikes: “Noticed that did you? Doing some in-depth reporting a little earlier might have averted this situation. Waiting until you see the whites of their eyes is a little late to begin shooting.”

The Times’ editorial writers, snaps Hoystory.com, are “in need of a clue.” “Frankly, the Times’ histrionics on this issue just goes to show you how truly out of touch they are with ‘mainstream’ America,” Hoystory writes. “And by ‘mainstream,’ I’m referring to the majority of Americans who voted for President Bush in the 2004 election.”

From the Times’ broadside from the left we turn to whiplash from the right — specifically Los Angeles Times op-ed columnist Joel Stein, who has taken a beating for a Tuesday op-ed in which he wrote that he does not support American troops fighting in Iraq and that “being against the war and saying you support the troops is one of the wussiest positions the pacifists have ever taken — and they’re wussy by definition.” In a story on the hullabaloo, Reuters said Stein’s piece “was quickly linked on conservative sites across the Internet, where readers poured scorn on Stein, on the newspaper and on liberals in general.”

Today, the beating continues in some quarters. “What really makes this piece a mockery is the way he portrays our troops” by calling them “a fighting tool of American imperialism,” argues starfish hands. “Bottom line. I understand where he’s coming from about people who oppose the war but support those fighting it and helping it progress, but what I find completely idiotic is how it demoralizes the troops, which is unnecessary. Speak up on your wing’s hypocrisy but no need to beat up on the troops.”

But many bloggers are now coming to Stein’s defense. A thoughtful Through The Ropes is one, saying Stein’s “‘Warriors and Wusses’ should be taken lightly as it was meant to be. [Joe] Scarborough and other conservative commentators should brush it off and focus their energy on condemning serious acts of liberal misbehavior, like Cindy Sheehan paying homage to Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez. Working up a fuss over a humor columnist like Stein only makes conservatives appear too sensitive to take a joke.”

The public at large, however, doesn’t seem to find Stein very funny. In a poll at LATimes.com, readers are being asked “Can you oppose the war in Iraq and still support U.S. troops?” The results as of 2:30 p.m. Eastern show 59.6 percent say yes, while only 19.5 percent say no.

The remaining 20.8 percent still seem to have a funny bone, choosing this option: “I don’t know. Why did you hire Joel Stein again?”

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Edward B. Colby was a writer at CJR Daily.