Monday, March 28, 2005

Riding Shotgun With Frank Rich

It sure is tough getting Frank Rich to focus, 'God racketeer, from deMille to Delay' on the opinion page. Rich takes readers on a reckless ride through his dream world with a column crashing its way past show business references, bashing into religion, not to mention the multiple story lines colliding into one another. Like a demolition derby, this column is difficult to unsort and Rich seems intent on destroying his own fevered thesis.
"At a time when government, culture, science, medicine and the rule of law are all under threat for an emboldend religious minority out to remake America according to its dogma (pause to catch breath), the half-forgotten show business history of 'The Ten Commandments' provides a telling back story."

Rich uses this to get to the point that various displays of the Ten Commandments were installed in the 50s as a promotion for the movie by the same name and the Supreme Court is considering whether they can legally remain on government property. He then suggests this is an example of minority religious views being forced on the public but he seems to forget that the case is about removing the display not installing it. If anything religious views are under assault--not the other way around. Turning to the Schiavo matter Rich says the following;
"Within hours he (Bush) turned Ms. Schiavo into a slick applause line at a Social Security rally. "It is wise to always err on the side of life," he said, wisdom that apparently had not occurred to him in 1999, when he mocked the failed pleas for clemency of Karla Faye Tucker..."

Frank Rich feels the rule of law is threatened and he uses an example of then Governor Bush allowing the law to prevail in the execution of an axe murderer. Is Rich now saying that Bush should have overturned Texas court decisions based on his religious views?

One can forgive the sense of looking through a broken windshield given off by this column. After serving as theater critic for the New York Times, Frank Rich was installed as a regular columnist on the op-ed pages of the Times. Then Rich was put back to writing about cultural issues. Earlier this month he was returned to the op-ed pages and now he's got to be wondering about where he is and where he's going.

Note: Regular readers of The New York Times will recognize this familiar story telling device. "At a time when (insert frowned upon activity here), the administration has said (insert statement unrelated to the frowned upon activity as if to say there is some connection between them)." This device is nearly always an opportunity to convey opinion.


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