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Frank Rich: Guilt by Free Association

John on March 1, 2010 at 9:23 am

Free association is an exercise in which the patient is confronted with a word or phrase and replies with the first thing that enters his mind. The idea was to give patients an uncensored view into the workings of their own minds.

Frank Rich makes a good living playing free association in the pages of the NY Times, more specifically guilt by free association. To really see it at work in his latest column, you almost need to diagram his piece. Here’s his “argument” in outline by paragraph:

  1. Joe Stack’s suicide is a modern turning point in history.
  2. Stack wasn’t a tea partier, but he sounds like one to me.
    1. People on Facebook defended Joe Stack.
  3. Republican Rep. Steve King empathized with Stack.
  4. Actually, this all reminds me of the Oklahoma City bombing.
  5. The NY Times recently agreed with the far left Southern Poverty Law Center that tea parties are havens for nuts.
  6. Tea partiers aren’t GOPers, they’re anarchists!
  7. The GOP is a dead husk. The Tea Party is the right’s future.
  8. Glenn Beck, Ron Paul and Sarah Palin are playing to the nut cases on the right.
  9. Glenn Beck spoke at CPAC. He is ominous.
  10. The Birchers helped fund CPAC. Ron Paul is popular there too and his followers are “obsessed and deranged.”
  11. People on the right are jumping on the Tea Party bandwagon.
    1. Also, Tim Pawlenty used violent imagery (taking a golf club to big government’s rear window) in a speech that came just one day after Joe Stack’s suicide.
  12. Michelle Bachmann once used violent imagery.
    1. Also, in Texas Rick Perry has a challenger on the right (ominous!).
  13. Lefty politicians never embraced radicalism in the 1960s.
  14. In the Times’ Tea Party article a woman envisioned a coming civil war.
  15. Sarah Palin said she would die for her country. She’s winking at home grown terror.

So there it is. Let’s just make three points in response:

One – Joe Stack was a liberal. As I pointed out recently, Stack:

  • Hates George W. Bush and his “cronies”
  • Hates Big Pharma
  • Hates Big Insurance
  • Hates GM executives
  • Hates organized religion
  • Refers favorably to communism
  • And in his last words before dying, denigrates capitalism

In short, he probably had a lot in common politically with Frank Rich.

Two – Frank Rich gets it wrong when it comes to Steve King and Michelle Bachmann, who never sympathized or encouraged violence. So subtract those two points from this already scattered data plot.

Three – When it comes to his three main targets Rich has nothing to offer beyond ad hominem attacks and guilt by association. Glenn Beck is “ominous.” Ron Paul has “deranged” followers. Sarah Palin sounds vaguely like some paranoid woman she’s never met.

A high school English teacher would give this paper a D for failing to make a single coherent argument that proves the premise. By contrast, readers of the NY Times have made it the #1 piece on their site. It demonstrates that the bar is set pretty low when the object is bashing conservatives. Any long-winded diatribe will do, no matter how illogical, false and just plain pathetic it is.

It’s hard to know who deserves more contempt, Frank Rich or the people who read and enjoy his column.

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Category: MSM & Bias |

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