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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Friday, October 25, 2002



So Much To Do, So Little Time

Interesting headlines for their columns today:

Krugman: "Dead Parrot Society". Looks like another calm, balanced presentation. I wonder if he mentions Bush?

Kristof: "Saudis in Bikinis". Hmm, I have a hard time believing this is the sort of "uncoverage" I am looking for in the Times. Still, if I can only read one...

UPDATE: Trust your instincts! Oh, don't do that - trust MY instincts! Krugman has a partisan screed from which I infer he is nervous about the upcoming election. I will save you time by presenting the comic highlight here:

"Mr. Bush retains a public image as a plain-spoken man, when in fact he is as slippery and evasive as any politician in memory."

Well, it depends on what the meaning of "slippery and evasive" is. Or maybe it depends on what the meaning of "memory" is. Apologists for Johnson, Nixon, and Clinton are loving this column, as is anyone who enjoys a hearty guffaw. This is a golden "Karaoke Krugman" moment: "Watergate does not bother me, does your conscience bother you (tell me true)"

Or maybe it depends on what the meaning of "politician" is. Al Sharpton, Mr. Probity? Bob Torricelli? Or, for balance, Simon in California? Oliver North? "Read my lips" Bush Sr.? Just who is Krugman remembering? Take two aspirin and call me in November. After the election.

Meanwhile, Kristof is great, in a strange, provacative, yet fully clothed way. Are Saudi woman, forced into traditional dress, repressed? Check this:

"I cover up my body and my face, and I'm happy that I'm a religious girl obeying God's rules," a dietician named Lana scolded me after I wrote a typically snide reference to repressed Saudi women. "... Why should I show my legs and breasts to men? Is that really freedom?"

In Riyadh, several Saudi women offered the same scathing critique, effectively arguing that Saudi women are the free ones — free from sexual harassment, free from pornography, free from seeing their bodies used to market cars and colas. It is Western women, they say, who have been manipulated into becoming the toys of men."


Hmm. Well, Kristof responds manfully, err, forcefully:

"If most Saudi women want to wear a tent, if they don't want to drive, then that's fine. But why not give them the choice? Why ban women drivers and why empower the religious police, the mutawwa, to scold those loose hussies who choose to show a patch of hair?"

Well, I suppose I could ask plenty of young women in the US why they want to dress like young hookers. Just because Britney Spears has made millions, and lots of other girls dress that way, doesn't mean everyone should. And not everyone does. However, I have the strong impression that in our culture there is a certain race to the bottom, and once standards slip, those who stay behind are, well, left behind. Man, no more sociology from me. Ladies?


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