Monday, March 29, 2010

O'My, O'Brien sinks to new depths

DURING MY YEARS AS a newspaperman, I tried to follow the rule of a wise old friend who said it did not serve our business well to criticize a fellow journalist. It made some sense, at least to those of us in that line of work. But a recent column by Kevin O'Brien in the Plain Dealer forces me to break the rule. O'Brien is the paper's deputy editorial page editor and is entitled to say whatever the hell he pleases so long as the paper's editors don't mind suffering the embarrassment of his mindless gibberish.

His latest opus is a further grisly attack on the health care reform bill that finally passed after more than a year of ugly infighting. Granted, there are some reasonable folks who find fault in the historic initiative by the Obama Administration. O'Brien, an overheated ultra-conservative with a deceptively benign smile, is not satisfied with mere disagreement. He writes:
"The Democrats in Congress and the White House have forced upon the United States of America a federal health care plan designed for people who are too stupid, incompetent and weak to manage their own affairs."
If he were a boxer, those callous words would have cost him the round - and maybe the whole match - for hitting well below the belt. (What, Kevin, is there to manage for someone out of work with no medical coverage and an ailing child? An ailing wife? I know. That's not your problem. Robespierre couldn't have said it with less heart.) The column drew a number of letters complaining about his reckless logic. But I doubt whether that is a problem or him. For guys like O'Brien, it's usually all about getting attention, like a cranky child tugging on mother's skirt. That places him in the back-row Glenn Beck pew. Unfortunately, his title also bears the imprimatur of the leading Northeast Ohio newspaper, which must share the responsibility. I trust the PD won't defend him with the standard reply that, like it or not, O'Brien does get an opportunity to speak for conservatives and secures wider readership on the op-ed page.

If so, what an awful smack-down of conservatism!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I will give the PD credit for Sunday's Letters to the Editor section where they devoted half the page to negative reactions to O'Brien's rhetoric.