A long-overdue letter to the editors of the New York Times

I wrote this today in response to an editorial decrying “Two Presidential Candidates Stuck in the Past.”

Thank you so much for continuing the Times’s pattern of false equivalence between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton which did so much to elect the former and besmirch the latter. Trump’s pathological need to tell whoppers at campaign rallies instead of governing is not at all the same as Clinton’s factual answers to a reporter’s questions. There is no doubt that James Comey’s October surprise re-opening of the e-mail investigation damaged her election prospects, nor is there any doubt that Russia interfered on her opponent’s behalf, though direct complicity by the Trump campaign has yet to be proven.

The editors’ instruction to Clinton to stop talking about the election sounds a lot like, “Women should be seen and not heard.” I look forward to your issuing a similarly stern warning to Bernie Sanders, who continues to peddle his fraudulent claim that Clinton “stole” the primaries by defeating him. Until you do, I’d be grateful if you’d stop pretending that Clinton’s telling the truth is somehow the same as Trump’s lying.

Author: Kelly Kleiman

Kelly Kleiman is a freelance writer on the arts, feminism, travel and social justice. Her reportage and essays have appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and Christian Science Monitor, among other dailies; in magazines, including In These Times and Dance; in the alternative press; on the BBC; and on Chicago Public Radio, where she’s one of the “Dueling Critics” and a contributor to the Onstage Backstage theater blog. She is also a consultant to charities and editor and publisher of The Nonprofiteer, a blog about charity, philanthropy and nonprofit management. She holds undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Chicago.

14 thoughts on “A long-overdue letter to the editors of the New York Times”

  1. The NYT is keeping "Views on Shape of Earth Differ" in its style guide. They need to be called on it often. Thank you.

  2. That is indeed a spectacularly clueless editorial.

    It's hard to sort out the Times' weird and long-running hatred toward the Clintons from the fear I feel about letting the most qualified Presidential candidate since Adlai Stevenson take a third swing at the ball. I mean, this conclusion is equally weird:

    Mr. Trump is now president of the United States, while Mrs. Clinton has the opportunity to represent the aspirations of her party rather than its grievances.

    That almost sounds like they want her to run again. The problem is that while she has that opportunity, I'm not sure she has that capability. For better or for worse–I think for better–the last primary season was probably the last hurrah for the Boomers. I'm a very young member of that cohort and I'm sick of us. Bernie (who I supported in the primaries) and Hillary (who I supported in the general election) both need to focus on enabling a different generation. Bernie is doing that, and I hope Hillary will, too.

    It really is time to move on, for all of us. Not give up–the hell with that. I've got a kid, so i can't give up even when I want to–but adjust to a new terrain and fight on. The stakes keep getting higher and higher and something needs to undefer the dream before it explodes in all our faces.

    1. I don't see any way either Hillary or Bernie runs again. It would be the sign of a very weak party, and if the Dems are weak in 2020, then God help us, no matter who runs for president. My greatest hope is that the people gearing up to run are also preparing detailed policy prescriptions, not just catchy slogans about socking it to the plutocrats. I don't want to see a policy-free fight in the primaries where name-calling predominates over substance. Of course, there will be plenty of name-calling and acrimony – I'm resigned to that after seeing how idiotic people on both sides were in 2008 and 2016. But if I can peer through the mud and make a decision based on a reasonable idea of what the person I vote for will do in office, and the prospects of getting it done, I will be extremely grateful.

      1. I would love to see a policy-free primary and a robust policy debate instead of Hollywood Squares at the convention.

        I would love to see a policy-filled platform and a primary full of candidates willing–before seeing it–to commit to advancing it.

        I'd also like a pony, but that's probably asking too much.

    2. John, I like everything you wrote here with one minor exception, the throwaway line characterizing Hillary as "the most qualified since…"

      In my adult lifetime (since Stevenson) we've had Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, the "real" George Bush, and Al Gore. Those fellows had some pretty strong CVs.

      1. Hillary had a lot of experience, but little evidence of competence. She had failed at her attempt on health care, the world got worse and more dangerous during her time as Secretary of State. Her choices on the email matter were, let's say, headscratchers. Trump got inside her OODA loop early and she never recovered. I see her as sort of like Prince Charles: a great deal of money and effort have gone into attempting to polish each of them, and the results are underwhelming.
        In some ways it's bad luck that we were stuck with her – our best chance at winning, and the best chance to have beaten her in the primaries, would have been with a popular governor of a large state, but there are a lot of Reeps governing large states and most of the others are too old. The party in general has become a gerontocracy.
        So: a really good resume, and a poor record of actually making things work and showing good judgement.

      2. Agree. Stevenson chose Southerners as running mates both times and said in 1956 that he could imagine no circumstances under which he would deploy federal troops to enforce the Supreme Court's 1954 desegregation decision. In 1952 he said that civil rights was a question for the states to handle (not wanting a repeat of the Dixiecrat rebellion of 1948). He opposed "socialized medicine" and supported the firing of teachers suspected of Communist ties. He was not all that different from Ike in many ways that mattered.

      3. Ken, I used that hyperbole about Stevenson partly to match the hyperbole about Hillary, and partly because there are people who believe being qualified is the only thing that matters. There are at least three living people, eligible for the office, who are more qualified to be President simply because they've done the job before: Jimmy Carter (1977-1981), George H. W. Bush (1989-1993), and Dick Cheney (9/11-Katrina). Cheney's young enough for it, barely, but I wouldn't vote for him, because he would work against my interests as a citizen.

        Suppose the situation were reversed, and it'd been, say, Condoleeza Rice versus Michael Moore (disclosure: he gave me five bucks to eat on in 1980). Rice is way more qualified, but I'd vote for Moore and probably so would you.

        I supported Bernie in the primaries because I thought he would work for my interests as a citizen in ways that Hillary would not.

        (I also thought he had a better chance in the general election, though that didn't become so clear until the Republicans were committed to the current non-occupant of the White House.)

        I supported Hillary in the general election because I am neither insane nor gullible, neither naive nor stupid (so neither Stein nor any of the conservatives), and because she would not work against my interests in the many ways that the current guy does.

        The big thing is that being qualified alone doesn't elect Presidents. It doesn't and it shouldn't.

        I want a President who is sufficiently qualified–a high bar to clear–and who will defend my interests. Most people want that and most people intend to vote that, Thomas Frank to the contrary. Not necessarily my interests as an economic actor, but certainly my interests as a citizen.

  3. Isn't it terrifying that in much of the US the Times is pretty much the poster child for the hated "liberal media"? They've pretty much always been a center-right publication, with occasional excursions and some corrections due to pesky facts.

  4. I very much like this letter to the Times. I wonder what the odds are that it'll be published by them. At least it's published here. Thank you.

  5. Why anyone thinks that Hillary Clinton is clearly morally superior to Donald Trump is bemusing. Between her efforts to discredit Bill's sexual accusers, her neo-con-ish FP approach, and her pandering to social justice extremist relativists, those who oppose her have a good case.

    1. All of these things gave great ammunition to the Trumpists. The Dems could have won with nearly anyone, but they picked a person who had damaged moral standing to oppose Trump.

    2. You'd think the Clinton campaign would have understood running on the platform "Trump treats women even worse than my husband" wasn't exactly a winning strategy. By the time it became a campaign of attrition and "my opponent is a scumbag" on both sides, the deal was sealed.

Comments are closed.