NPR got in the spirit of anniversaries on Thursday night’s All Things Considered by recalling the 1964 Republican convention in San Francisco. For analysis, they turned to.....New York Times Magazine contributor Sam Tanenhaus, whose lack of political insight was proven by his 2009 book The Death of Conservatism (broadened from a 2009 New Republic essay titled "Conservatism Is Dead.") Oopsy.
Tanenhaus told NPR anchor Robert Siegel that when Nelson Rockefeller tried to argue against “extremism” at the convention, leftist author Norman Mailer wrote it was like “one of those early moments at the dawn of civilization when one caveman stood off the others and said no, we have to be a civilized society.”
Sam Tanenhaus's 6,300-word cover story for the New York Times' Sunday Magazine, "Can the G.O.P. Be a Party of Ideas?" is marinated in the same superior smugness that distorted his 2009 hit-piece book on the conservative movement.
Tanenhaus, currently a "writer-at-large" for the Times, is still hailed in liberal circles as an expert on the conservative movement, even though his slim, slanted 2009 book The Death of Conservatism (talk about wishful thinking) proved rather ill-timed, coming as it did before the Tea Party resurgence. The book ludicrously labeled President Obama a centrist in a long line of Democratic centrists, including ... George McGovern, Walter Mondale, and Michael Dukakis. Tanenhaus also likened the conservative movement to "the exhumed figures of Pompeii, trapped in postures of frozen flight, clenched in the rigor mortis of a defunct ideology." So when the Times wants an "objective" view of the conservative movement, it's obvious Tanenhaus is the guy to provide it.
National Review magazine has published an excellent and comprehensive response to New York Times Book Editor Sam Tanenhaus's dishonest smear of conservative thought in a cover story for The New Republic. The article by National Review contributors Ramesh Ponnuru and Jonah Goldberg appears in the March 25 issue.
After first explaining that for the left, "The explanation for conservatives’ opposition to President Obama and his agenda must be found not in our ideas but in our pathologies," they argue (bolds added by me):
In what appears to be a daily theme on MSNBC, the liberal network seems to find new ways to smear the Republican Party. The latest example from the liberal network was on the March 5 Now w/ Alex Wagner on March 5, when the all-liberal panel took to smearing Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R-Va.) on his bid to be the next Governor of the Commonwealth.
The liberal panel, including host and former Center for American Progress employee Alex Wagner, spared no mercy in their vicious attack on Cuccinelli. Wagner introduced the segment with strong vitriolic rhetoric:
Thin-skinned New York Times columnist Paul Krugman spoke at the left-wing Netroots Nation conference held in Providence, R.I. this weekend (a fact overlooked in his own paper's story). In his Saturday morning talk, Krugman displayed his usual class and charm by calling Times Book Review editor Sam Tanenhaus "very much a noecon," a slur in Krugman's liberal circles, for allegedly assigning an unsympathetic critic to his new book End This Depression Now! according to the liberal news site Talking Points Memo.
Not content with letting partisan liberal journalist Joe Klein review "radical Republican" Jonah Goldberg's new book The Tyranny of Clichés, the May 18 edition of the paper's Book Review podcast opened with book editor Sam Tanenahus talking with Klein about his hostile Times book review. Tanenhaus (pictured), author of a little screed called The Death of Conservatism that was discredited within months of its 2009 publication by the rise of the Tea Party, spent the first 14 minutes of the podcast slamming Goldberg's book along with Klein.
This exchange occurred about 40 minutes from the end of the podcast:
Surprising no one, the New York Times handed its review of Jonah Goldberg's new book,The Tyranny of Clichés, to a political enemy, Time Magazine political columnist Joe Klein (pictured), which he did under the loaded headline "Hating Liberals." The paper similarly handed its review of Goldberg's previous book, 2007'sLiberal Fascism, to unsympathetic history professor David Oshinsky.
Klein was even harsher (calling the book "an insight into the...radical Republican state of mind") and more condescending in an accompanying New York Times books podcast, hosted by his equal in conservative mockery, the paper's book editor Sam Tanenhaus. (Check the next Times Watch post for that.)
Next week, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on the constitutionality of ObamaCare, but if the media were the judges, the Court would rule 9-0 in favor of it. During its coverage of the health care debate, the liberal press never permitted questions about ObamaCare’s legality to interfere with their dream of a government takeover of the health care sector.
Starting even before Barack Obama became President, the press has been campaigning hard for passage of the most liberal version of health care reform as a cure-all elixir to all of America’s health problems. First, they pitched the public on the desperate need to, as ABC’s Dr. Tim Johnson demanded, fix America’s “national shame” of no universal coverage. (Worst of the Worst quote compiliation with videos after the jump)
Time magazine decided to publish a symposium on "What Is a Conservative?" in its February 13 edition employing "voices of -- and experts on -- the right," including Erick Erickson, Rich Lowry, Ramesh Ponnuru, Ann Coulter, Grover Norquist, Pete Wehner, and libertarian Nick Gillespie. The obvious non-conservative "expert" in this group is Sam Tanenhaus, editor of the New York Times Book Review. Time failed to explain that this very puzzling inclusion is the man who just wrote a book in 2009 forecasting "The Death of Conservatism," which in intellectual history is about as embarrassing as Geraldo Rivera standing in front of Al Capone's alleged vault.
Tanenhaus naturally lectured that "Every ambitious Republican President since Abraham Lincoln" understood that calling for smaller government is meaningless.
In an email exchange obtained by Times Watch, McGowan wrote to Tanenhaus on November 22 informing Tanenhaus that he had dropped off a copy of “Gray Lady Down” for review purposes, writing: “I think the book should be read as coming from the loyal opposition, a la [former Times Public Editor] Dan Okrent, and while it may not be everywhere flattering it is, to the best of my ability, everywhere fair.”
McGowan reminded Tanenhaus that he had previously told him “Gray Lady Down” would receive a review in the Times. (McGowan’s last critical appraisal of the Times, “Coloring the News,” was ignored by the paper.)
CBS reporter Lesley Stahl was very confused on Monday's "Morning Joe". She just couldn't figure out why there are so many women involved with the Tea Party.
Stahl received a basic civics lesson from two unlikely personalities: columnist Mike Barnicle, and Sam Tanenhaus, editor of the New York Times Book Review and author of "The Death of Conservatism".
Tanenhaus noted that economic issues are of particular importance to women, and therefore that women are going to be more active when their economic livelihood is threatened. Barnicle suggested that since women generally handle household finances, the illogic of deficit spending is especially clear to them (video and transcript below the fold - h/t Caroline May).
Sam Tanenhaus, editor of “The New York Times Book Review” and “Week in Review,” and the author of the book, “The Death of Conservatism,” went on Rachel Maddow's MSNBC talk show Monday night to discuss her being featured in a fundraising letter from the right-wing John Birch Society. But the friendly chat soon veered off into a comparison of the nationalist John Birch Society to the Tea Party movement, with Tanenhaus confidently proclaiming “there are no serious ideas left on the right.”
Tanenhaus is pretty assured, for a man who published a book called “The Death of Conservatism” months before a conservative resurgence. At least he didn't refer to Tea Party protesters as “tea baggers,” as he did in an exchange on Slate last October. (Watch a clip of Tanenhaus chatting with Maddow at Times Watch).
SAM TANENHAUS: But there were many on the right who actually supported [John Birch Society president Robert] Welch on the principle we're seeing in action today -- no enemies on the right. If they can be useful, you keep them in the tent. Then, by the mid-'60s, as you said before, they'd gotten so far off the grid that Buckley, a guy who kind of trafficked in intellectual circles, particularly in New York, and had a lot of smart liberal friends, like Murray Kempton and John Kenneth Galbraith, got a little embarrassed by them. At the same time, though, as you said, they were forceful. They were useful. In the Goldwater campaign in ‘64, they were the foot soldiers. In some sense, they're the precursor to the tea partiers we're seeing now, so the right is always nervous about evicting people like that.
It's curious to see people in the mainstream media try to make sense of the Tea Party movement. The New York Times, which once called the Tea Parties a psychological phenomenon rather than a political movement, has now changed its tune.
In the wake of the stunning upset by Scott Brown in the Jan. 19 Massachusetts special election to fill the seat vacated by Ted Kennedy's death, the Times is attempting a more analytical look at the so-called "tea party tiger." Specifically, the Times looked at some key figures in the movement, Sen. Jim DeMint, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Fox News host Glenn Beck and CNBC CME group reporter Rick Santelli.
CNBC ‘Squawk Box' co-host Joe Kernen told Santelli about the Times story on Jan. 25.
2009 began as a year of smiles at the Times, with rapture over the "historic" Obama administration. Reporters showered partisan praise on Obama's Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor and first lady Michelle Obama. Meanwhile, the Times resolutely buried emerging left-wing scandals over ACORN and Obama adviser Van Jones. But the smile curdled into a defensive snarl during the long hot summer of "angry," "white," and "bitter" tea party protesters, while Times columnists blamed conservative talk show hosts for a spate of ideologically motivated killings.
But perhaps the apex of outrage at the Times in 2009 was a textbook case of liberal hypocrisy. In Timesland, unions are vital to the lifeblood of a sound economy -- just not at the Times itself.
In ascending order of awfulness, here are the Top 10 lowlights of the Times in 2009 (you can also read all the gory details at Times Watch).
Did Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush "probably" commit "impeachable offenses"? That's what influential New York Times editor Sam Tanenhaus thinks.
On Wednesday night, the influential editor of both the "New York Times Book Review" and the "Weekend Review" sections again appeared on Charlie Rose's late night PBS chat show to discuss his no-longer-new book "The Death of Conservatism."
Times Watch found Tanenhaus's slim essay of a book intellectually dishonest, not so much declaring the movement dead as trying to define it out of existence by blurring the meaning of "conservatism" to mean the preserving of liberal government interventions.
Tanenhaus made his assertion three minutes into the interview while discussing limits on presidential power:
CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin again turned to his usual labeling of the ideological split on the Supreme Court on Monday’s American Morning. Toobin labeled Justices Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Roberts “very conservative” three times, as opposed to the mere “liberal” justices on the Court. The analyst also bizarrely claimed that the “liberal side” of the body is “basically outnumbered.”
Toobin appeared during two segments at the ends of the 6 am and 8 am Eastern hours of the CNN program. Anchor John Roberts (who has the same name as the chief justice) interviewed the legal analyst both times, and he first asked about the influence of new Justice Sonia Sotomayor on the Court as it starts a new session. Toobin used his slanted labeling from right out of the gate: “You know, Justice Byron White was famous for saying, ‘When you change one member of the court, you don’t just change one member, you change the whole court’...This may be, though, a rare exception to that because her politics seem very similar to David Souter’s, so that the divisions on the court- four very conservative justices, four liberal justices- Anthony Kennedy in the middle- is probably not going to change that much.”
New York Times Week in Review and Book Review editor Sam Tanenhaus is discussinghis recent book "The Death of Conservatism" with Reihan Salam on Slate's Book Club feature.
The tone of these Slate debates is usually civilly contentious, but in his Thursday afternoon posting, Tanenhaus leaves his lofty chambers of rhetoric to insult the conservatives he purports to be an expert on with a well-known lefty vulgarism:
Even today the right insists it is driven by ideas, even if the leading thinkers are now Limbaugh and Beck, and the shock troops are tea-baggers and anti-tax demonstrators.
Left-wing PBS omnipresence Bill Moyers, host of "Bill Moyers Journal," interviewed New York Times editor Sam Tanenhaus about his new book "The Death of Conservatism," which Times Watch found intellectually dishonest, unnecessarily hostile, and already dated.
Tanenhaus, who edits two Sunday sections, the Book Review and the Week in Review, insulted today's conservative movement the same way he did in his book, calling it "a politics of vengeance." Tanenhaus, who decries conspiracism on the right, indulged in his own when he declared of the 2000 election between Bush and Al Gore:"... the conservatives on the Supreme Court stopped the democratic process, put their guy into office."
Challenged by Moyers on the book's title, given the huge anti-government rallies opposing Obama's spending and health care schemes, Tanenhaus insisted that "the overt signs of energy and vitality" of today's anti-government protesters notwithstanding, "the rigor mortis I described is still there."
Whatever you say, Sam. Some excerpts from the interview, which aired Friday night:
Moyers: So, if you're right about the decline and death of conservatism, who are all those people we see on television?
Tanenhaus:I'm afraid they're radicals. (Laughter.) Conservatism has been divided for a long time -- this is what my book describes narratively -- between two strains. What I call realism and revanchism. We're seeing the revanchist side.
The title of Sam Tanenhaus's slim new essay of a book, with the wishful-thinking title "The Death of Conservatism," is misleading. Tanenhaus, the editor of the New York Times Book Review and Week in Review sections, doesn't so much call the movement dead as try to define it out of existence.
"Death" reshapes the U.S. political landscape out of all recognition to make it hospitable to Tanenhaus's peculiar brand of left-center politics, where the only true conservatives stalking the land are Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Clinton, and (wait for it) Barack Obama, "more thoroughly steeped in the Burkean principles of 'conservation' and 'correction' than any significant thinker or political figure on the right today."
Under Tanenhaus's conveniently pinched definition of conservatism, liberals are welcome to expand the reach of the federal government through regulation, higher taxes and welfare, moves that conservatives are then obligated to "conserve" and consolidate to be true to their philosophy -- as dictated by a New York Times editor who assuredly has their best interests at heart (as do the four liberal journalists who contributed back-page blurbs).
There is an inside joke for the veteran viewers of MSNBC’s morning show, ‘Morning Joe,’ which refers back to a time when Joe Scarborough was in a heated debate with Zbigneiw Brzezinski (Mika’s father) over the behind-the-scenes content of President Clinton’s Camp David accords. The elder Brzezinski grew rather frustrated with being out-shouted by Scarborough, and delivered the following zinger:
“You know, you have such a stunningly superficial knowledge of what went on that it's almost embarrassing to listen to you.”
This crushing critique could also be applied to today’s appearance of the New York Times’ Sam Tanenhaus, author of 'The Death of Conservatism,' on that same show. Tanenhaus delivered the following two opinions with an admirably straight face:
SAM TANENHAUS: Yeah, and it was interesting to go to the Clinton school and tell the audience there that the last conservative president in America was Bill Clinton.
Catching up with a great catch in last week's Weekly Standard “Scrapbook” section, the September 7 issue highlighted an example of how it takes a worldview that sees liberals like Barack Obama as “consensus”-oriented/“explicitly nonideological” centrists -- and Republicans as “ideologically committed” conservatives -- to work at the New York Times. Sam Tanenhaus, editor of the newspaper's Book Review and Week in Review sections, in his new book, The Death of Conservatism, proposes on page 23:
The primary dynamic of American politics, normally described as a continual friction between the two major parties, is equally in our time a competition between the liberal idea of consensus and the conservative idea of orthodoxy. We see it in the Democratic Party's recent history of choosing centrist, explicitly nonideological presidential candidates (Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Clinton, Obama), as contrasted with the Republicans' preference for ideologically committed ones (Goldwater, Reagan, George W. Bush).
The unnamed Weekly Standard writer scoffed: “The sophistry here is breathtaking. Tanenhaus not only conflates his own political preferences with the American 'center.' In order to prove that only the Democratic party nominates 'centrist, explicitly nonideological' men for the presidency, Tanenhaus (1) puts Obama – Barack Obama! – in the 'centrist' camp, and (2) totally ignores Democrats Hubert Humphrey, George McGovern, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, and Al Gore, as well as Republicans Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, and John McCain.”
Appearing on MSNBC’s New York Times Edition on Friday, the paper’s ‘Week in Review’ editor, Sam Tanenhaus, lamented one of Ted Kennedy’s flaws: "There’s a further paradox to this, which is we sometimes forget, I mean, all of the wonderful things being said about this extraordinary figure Edward Kennedy, that he was partly accountable for Ronald Reagan’s ascendency."
Previewing his latest New York Times column on Kennedy to host John Harwood in the 2:00PM ET hour, Tanenhaus went on to explain: "Ted Kennedy challenged the incumbent Democrat, Jimmy Carter, in 1980 and weakened him in that election and that brought Reagan into power."
Just prior to that declaration, Tanenhaus praised Kennedy for his "idea of governance [that] was really premised in the big vision of New Deal liberalism. That all the forces of government could be marshaled to improve the conditions for the greatest number of people, in particular, the excluded and the disadvantaged." In contrast, Tanenhaus claimed "the great Republican leaders, beginning with Barry Goldwater and really capped by Ronald Reagan, had no interest in governance. Ronald Reagan said government is not the solution, it’s the problem."
On MSNBC Friday, anchor John Harwood spoke with New York Times Week in Review editor Sam Tanenhaus about the health care debate, wondering: "...you know an awful lot about the patron saint of modern conservatism William F. Buckley. What do you suppose Bill Buckley would think of the nature of the arguments that are being made against the Obama health care plan right now, death panels and all the rest?"
Harwood, hosting the 2:00PM ET weekly New York Times Edition broadcast, was asking about Tanenhaus’s upcoming book, ‘The Death of Conservatism.’ Tanenhaus argued: "Well, you know, one of the great contributions Bill Buckley made to conservatism was to move it toward the center. And one way he did that was to repudiate in a very forceful way what was then called the lunatic fringe."
At that time, Harwood interjected: "The John Birch Society." Tanenhaus continued: "And they weren’t necessarily a dangerous group, but what they did was discredit serious conservative arguments." He then made the comparison to the current health care debate: "...and we may see in the days ahead where serious responsible Republicans and conservative thinkers say if they’re going to make a forceful argument the country can accept, they’ll have to cut themselves off from this more extreme view."
Harwood concluded: "Well, it’s an interesting point. It’s – I don’t see right now anybody cutting off that extreme view all that much."
When Sam Tanenhaus came on board the New York Times Book Review in 2004 he was accused of being conservative, but one would be hard-pressed to convict him based on the available evidence during his tenure -- "the emptiness of free-market liturgy," anyone?
Besides having a thin, forced, and familiar feel, Tanenhaus's latest essay for the Times Week in Review, "Sound of Silence: The Culture Wars Take a Break," managed to portray Obama's opposition to gay marriage (which would normally make him a villain or at least hypocritical in the Times's eyes) as a Clintonian-style tactical victory against conservatives, absent of any the usual anti-gay taint the paper brings to bear on the matter.
The culture wars may not have ended, but on some fronts the combat has gotten rather quiet. For instance, family values.
True, David Letterman's awkward joke about a daughter of Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska prompted denunciations of the "media elite" (though it also boosted Mr. Letterman's ratings).
"Conservatism Is Dead," blares the cover of the February 18 edition of The New Republic, heralding an article by Sam Tanenhaus, editor of The New York Times Book Review and Week in Review. Tanenhaus came to bury conservatism, arguing up front that today's GOP is too weak to resist Obama. (Perhaps a premature burial, given the GOP's stand against the "stimulus" package.)
Some 40 years later, there are conservatives who still inveigh against the perils of socialized medicine.
In his New Republic cover story, Tanenhaus sounded at best like a neo-liberal, making brief cursory criticism of liberal overreach while bearing down hard on conservative opposition to food stamps and the welfare state in general, with much discussion of Joe McCarthy, "the emptiness of free-market liturgy," and conservative malice toward the poor.