Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Opiate of the Smart People

In yesterday’s New York Times Magazine, Bill Keller, the executive editor of the Times, wrote he is “pretty sure most journalists would recoil in horror from the idea” of voting for Sarah Palin; he doubts she would get 10 percent of the vote in the newsrooms of America. One might wonder why someone who has so little support among such smart people merited a column from among the highest ranks of the Times. Fortunately, Keller told us:

I was struck by the gratuitous quality of one remark she tossed off during that Rolling Thunder rally in Washington the Sunday before Memorial Day. When an NPR reporter asked what had brought her to the event, she replied, “It is our vets who we owe our freedom — not the politician, not the reporter — it is our vets, so that’s why we’re here.”

Keller thought Palin’s remark “was automatic, like acid reflux,” and reflected a disdain for the media emanating from her “intellectual insecurity, or a trace of impostor syndrome.” He felt the need to stand up for reporters. But unknown to the intellectually secure Keller, Palin’s remark was a reference to Charles M. Province’s poem, “It is the Soldier,” which Sen. Zell Miller (D-Ga.) recited during his 2004 keynote address at the Republican Convention:

It is the Soldier, not the minister
Who has given us freedom of religion.

It is the Soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of the press. …

It is the Soldier, not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.

Anyone who heard Miller’s 2004 speech – which was itself a newsworthy event, since he had been the 1992 keynoter at the Democratic convention that nominated Bill Clinton – would have recognized Palin’s allusion.

Perhaps we should be more charitable to Keller than he was to Palin. The Times covered the keynote speech in 2004 but did not mention the poem, so Keller had no way of knowing about it. He may  suffer from a disability common among journalists of the Times– what medical experts refer to as paper-of-record imposter syndrome; it is a malady particularly striking editors who replaced religion with the Times – an opiate causing automatic reactions, like acid reflux.



Join the discussion…

Are you a subscriber? Log in to comment »

Not a subscriber? Join the discussion today, subscribe to Commentary »





Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.