These two fellows were at it again on Monday, and they deserve our attention. That's Bob Herbert, above, and Paul Krugman, below; two of the finer op-ed writers anywhere. They work here in New York.
Sure, the rest of the New York Times' stable of columnists includes some worthies, too: Maureen Dowd is occasionally as funny as Jon Stewart, and just as incisive; Frank Rich has produced some gems of insight here and there; and Nicholas Kristof is an often clarion voice for geopolitical sanity and accountability (curiously, I find their bestselling superstar, Thomas Friedman, to be cold, clumsy, and frequently flat wrong about things—his popularity remains a mystery to me).
But Herbert and Krugman are the jewels of the Times' editorial pages. Consistently and unflinchingly, these two nail the target square, with writing that is trenchant, clear, and often eloquent. Bob Herbert focuses on the moral implications of the Bushies' lazy and errant policies and their outrageous, secretive arrogance; often he finds a particular thread of the story at hand, involving a person, a family, or a community that has suffered as a result of said arrogance; as he did Monday with the tale of Maher Arar's extreme rendition in Syria ("The Torturers Win"). Krugman, a professor of economics at Princeton, lays bare the truth behind the neocon right's agenda of wiping out the middle class in America and creating a bipolar class system of the ultra-wealthy and the low income/poor. In doing so, he names names and provides evidence, as he did Monday in "The Mensch Gap".
So even if you don't read the news regularly (I would agree that it's neither necessary nor desirable to do so), being able to rely on two consistently insightful, crystalline writers who also happen to be human truth-seeking missiles is, to my mind, well worth the $50 a year that the NYT will charge you for joining the "Times Select" subscription. It's roughly the price of two newly-released hard cover books, and these two fellows each give you two columns per week of quality work. All things considered, a pretty solid bargain.
Oh, and you get David Brooks, too. He's the Times' token right-wing apologist, and I assure you, he may be the lamest, most incompetent writer in the mainstream media today—reading Coulter and Malkin, as vile as they are, is more entertaining than slogging through a Brooks column. But if you suffer from insomnia, he may have something for you.