"Love Gov" v. incoherence: In her column today for the New York Times, Gail Collins offers readers a bit of perspective—if they read all the way to paragraph 14.
If you read to graf 14, you're offered this bit of perspective:
COLLINS (4/13/17): On occasion we are reminded that the worst things that happen in this world are generally not about consensual sex.Interesting! The worst things that happen are not about consensual sex!
Unfortunately, the rest of Collins' column today is about consensual sex, or at least it concerns a near-relative. The columnist couldn't help herself. The headline on her column says this:
"Trump Versus The Love Gov"
Collins burns her column rummaging through ex-governor Bentley's underwear drawer, comparing it to the underwear drawer of President Donald J. Trump. In fairness, you do get that one brief bit of perspective.
Collins' column struck us as a bad old New York Times moment. We'll suggest that you pair it with Amanda Taub's puzzling Upshot report.
Taub's lengthy piece tops today's National section. It seems to be an attempt to explain the rise in political partisanship. Hard-copy headline included, it starts off like this:
TAUB (4/13/17): Partisanship as a Tribal Identity: Voting Against One's Economic InterestsAs you can see, that's an inauspicious start.
Working-class Americans who voted for Donald J. Trump continue to approve of him as president, even though he supported a health care bill that would disproportionately hurt them.
Highly educated professionals tend to lean Democratic, even though Republican tax policies would probably leave more money in their pockets.
Why do people vote against their economic interests?
The answer, experts say, is partisanship. Party affiliation has become an all-encompassing identity that outweighs the details of specific policies.
Taub starts by asking why (some) people "vote against their economic interests." One possible answer is fairly obvious:
They vote against their economic interests because they have other types of "interests!"
Taub doesn't waste time on that. In her taxonomy, you have your economic interests—and after that, you have "partisanship." Or so the experts say!
We recommend the Taub piece as a reading challenge. The piece strikes us as wonderfully incoherent, in a wonderfully challenging way.
Through the bulk of the piece, the expert on whom Taub relies is Lilliana Mason, a youngish assistant professor at the University of Maryland. Our guess would be that the incoherence comes more from Taub than from Mason. But for today, your assignment will be to see how much of Taub's presentation, if any, you feel you can puzzle out.
Upshot pieces are supposed to represent the New York Times' brainiest work. We hope to return to this piece in the next few days to try to puzzle it out.
For today, we'll recommend the intellectual challenge presented by this work. In case the strain becomes too great, you can always enjoy the Love Gov, or turn to A2 and A3.
We've been a bit under the weather in the past week. For that reason, we haven't yet discussed the new format the Times has adopted on pages A2 and A3. (Hard-copy editions only.)
On those new pages, the Times is talking way down to its readers. Today, Taub adds a puzzle to the mix, and Collins throws in the fun.
Seamus the dog isn't mentioned today. Neither is the "21-year-old intern," the icon who didn't exist.