August 13, 2007
Another Historical Invention
Sitting in the doctor’s office waiting to have my sore throat cultured for strep ( it turned out to be a virus), I picked up the July 9 issue of Time, which had a feature story on the shenanigans of Australian press mogul Rupert Murdoch. Although Murdoch, I discovered, supports “political moderates like Hillary Clinton and Tony Blair,” he is widely regarded as a far-out rightist because of the support he showers on FOX, the New York Post, and Weekly Standard. And for all his putative moderateness, Murdoch gave the Post “a sharp turn right” when he took it over in the 1970s. Before that, the paper had been doing fine by the “moderate” standards of Time, but then under Murdoch’s stewardship it had veered off in a very rightwing direction.
So much for the truth-telling of our predictably leftist national press! Today the Post is certainly not to the right of where it stood when Dorothy Schiff, the granddaughter of the German Jewish banker Jacob Schiff, had run it and when I read that paper as an adolescent in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Unlike the columnists I now read in the Post, I could not imagine Mrs. Schiff or any of her regular writers coming out for gay marriage. The paper’s hero was Adlai Stevenson, a moderate Democrat whose views on states rights would sound medieval by current standards. I would gladly vote for Adlai or for his successful Republican opponent, President Eisenhower, against any or all of the front-running clowns who are now competing to succeed our syntactically challenged, present chief executive. After I had stopped reading it regularly, the Post did drift leftward in its opposition to the Vietnam War. Nonetheless, its featured columnists Murray Kempton, James Wechsler, and Max Lerner did not hold opinions that were notably different from those of the neocons, who rose to prominence afterwards. The Post- columnists were typically Cold War liberals with strong Zionist sympathies. One of them, Max Lerner made the transition to becoming a “movement conservative” journalist in the 1980s, without having to change any of his opinions. Or so he told me in phone conversations.
Sometimes I am forced to wonder whether the liberal-neocon media are lying or simply showing invincible ignorance when they apply to the past our changing standards of “liberal” and “conservative.” Was Robert Meyner, the labor-union-supported, Democratic governor of New Jersey in the 1950s an ideological forerunner of the current New Jersey Democratic governor, Jon Corzine. Except for the shared party label and their courting of union votes, I could not imagine two more dissimilar types. The governor I recall from my youth was a social conservative and an honored World War Two naval officer. His successor in 1962, Richard J. Hughes, was a devout Catholic, who opposed abortion and who married someone else who had been widowed after his first wife had died. The current governor is a cultural radical as well as being economically on the left. Moreover, his personal life seems to be almost as scandalous as that of his Democratic predecessor Jim McGreevy, who had used his access to patronage to employ his homosexual lover. Perhaps that was the conservative thing to do, in order to express our now updated “family values.” Are Corzine and McGreevy to be viewed as figures of the left, as moderates, or as closet conservatives? I suppose we”ll have to wait until the media provides the correct label. Back during the days of the Cold War, I labored under the misapprehension that hard-line Soviet leaders were Marxist-Leninists. But then the network news and the New York Times pointed out my mistake by calling the same people “conservatives.” Moreover, until the talking heads helped to remove my confusion, I mistook Senator Obama for a black leftist politician from Chicago. Now I have learned that he is a truly national leader who transcends partisan and geographical divisions. How do I know? The media told me so.