Those who think that New York is still the city without pity don’t read the biweekly (or so) heart-bleed plus obligatory Bush-bash by Hendrik Hertzberg in the New Yorker’s “Talk of the Town” front section. (Sorry, none of this stuff is online, so you’ll have to buy the mag to see what I mean.) But Hertzberg–and other New Yorker staff writers of the liberal persuasion, which means almost all of them–are pikers compared to the champion bleeder/Bush-bashers of them all, the New Yorker readers who write letters to the editor.
Almost every week, a New Yorker article, artfully positioned among the ads for Infinitis and high-end Napa wineries, sheds tears over convicted multiple-murderers, concept artists, and others of the deserving transgressive set. And then, right as rain, two weeks later appears a slew of letters chiding the New Yorker for not shedding enough liberal tears!
Case in point: Hertzberg’s “Talk of the Town” potshots in the Feb. 2 issue at G.W. Bush’s State of the Union address, which Hertzberg complained was a warmongering hodgepodge of proposals that were “either ruinously expensive, socially poisonous non-starters (such as privatizing Social Security) or cheap cuts of wormy red meat for the conservative and evangelical base.” Hertzberg continued sarcastically that the heartless Bush administration was promoting “environment-related program activities (such as logging in national forests), education-related program activities (such as requiring tests without providing the funds to help kids pass them), and health care-related activities (such as forbidding Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices).”
Boo hoo! But that didn’t satisfy the New Yorker’s even more guilt-ridden readers. Now, in the Feb. 16/23 issue, right across from the full-page ad for the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Day-Date platinum watch, two letter-readers complain that Hertzberg wasn’t hard enough on Bush or soft enough on his victims. Reader Lawrence Lader of New York City complains that Hertzberg failed to mention that Bush didn’t take note in his speech of the 524 service members so far killed in Iraq, which proved that Bush isn’t a “decent leader.”
Then reader Bill Heinke of River Forest, Ill., threw in his two cents to amplify Hertzberg’s sideswipe in the same “Talk of the Town” at the Republican election ads that showed the face of Vietnam vet and Iraq-war foe Max Cleland next to the faces of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. (I guess you’re not supposed to do that.) Wrote Heinke: The Republicans engaged in “exceptional viciousness” in picking on Cleland.
So–are letters to the New Yorker just an amen corner for New Yorker writers? Or is there actually such a thing as being even more liberal than the New Yorker? I plan to stay tuned to this pressing issue.