By Way of Comparison

September 21, 2007

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, writing Wednesday:

One of my pet peeves about political reporting is the fact that some of my journalistic colleagues seem to want to be in another business – namely, theater criticism. Instead of telling us what candidates are actually saying – and whether it’s true or false, sensible or silly – they tell us how it went over, and how they think it affects the horse race.

From the front page of today’s New York Times:

Political leadership is an uncertain alchemy, an admixture of the symbolic and substantive and the visceral. In times of consuming trauma, psychologists and historians say, a leader must speak with a trusted voice and sketch honestly the painful steps to safety. A leader must weave a narrative of shared loss while acknowledging consuming anger.

All this Mr. Giuliani accomplished, mourning the dead, comforting the grieving and cheering the living even as the police and the National Guard moved in. His critics have lambasted the rescue failures at ground zero and argued that his inattention before 9/11 cost lives.

But his performance shone brighter for the implicit comparison with President George W. Bush, who initially appeared — fairly or not — frozen in his chair, listening to second graders read as a nation came under attack.

Mr. Giuliani declined to be interviewed for this article.

I’ll be he did. After all, the Times was already giving him a curtain call.

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