What the heck happened to Seamus: This was an amazing morning on the op-ed page of the Times.
As usual, Collins and Kristof bordered the page. But this morning, each scribe wrote a serious column, concerning a serious topic!
Needless to say, the shock was greatest from Collins. Mitt Romney’s dog was MIA, although he’ll be back on Saturday morning. This morning, Collins’ attention span was such that she was able to write 800 words on a serious topic without drifting off into snark and snide or puzzling about dog carriers.
At one point, Collins even tipped her chapeau to us! Your DAILY HOWLER keeps getting results! (Search on “howling.”)
Collins stayed serious all the way through; as usual, so did Kristof. He discusses Charles Murray’s new book, which has produced quite a few predictable tribal reactions. Many of those tribal reactions have been on-point, of course; Kristof’s basic reaction to Murray’s thesis is that of the liberal world. (What we need most is “good union jobs.”) But we especially liked Kristof’s column because he moved beyond the tribal win to worries about the real world:
KRISTOF (2/9/12): Today, I fear we’re facing a crisis in which a chunk of working-class America risks being calcified into an underclass, marked by drugs, despair, family decline, high incarceration rates and a diminishing role of jobs and education as escalators of upward mobility. We need a national conversation about these dimensions of poverty, and maybe Murray can help trigger it. I fear that liberals are too quick to think of inequality as basically about taxes. Yes, our tax system is a disgrace, but poverty is so much deeper and more complex than that.Can Murray help trigger that discussion? Almost surely not. But Kristof’s column discusses real people who live in real places. Quite often, our team exults in the tribal win, then moves to other concerns.
The New York Times was a real shock today. Collins and Kristof bordered the page—and neither scribe played the fool. It seemed like something you’d expect from a newspaper in a real world.