Here’s an idea. Maybe OxBlog could do it. Someone out there in blogland should take a look at Ann Coulter’s recent columns and Maureen Dowd’s. Using strict criteria – personal smears, rhetorical hyperbole, unprovable accusations of ill-will, bigotry (towards a class or race or group of people), unsubstantiated claims, and so on, see how the two stack up. It’s not worth criticizing Dowd any more. She’s beyond criticism. But it would be interesting to see how the prize columnist at the Times compares with a writer now deemed beyond the pale by large sections of the media. One your marks, get set … I’ll link to the best.

KRUGMAN’S CLASS HATRED: Wow. Barely a single original thought in Paul Krugman’s Times magazine cover-story, a piece that reads like Howell Raines just ordered it into what was once a pretty independent place. Growing inequality in America? Whodathunk it? For anyone wanting an intelligent liberal attempt to deal with this issue and actually come up with some honest solutions, go read Mickey Kaus’s superb, “The End of Equality.” It was written over a decade ago. It’s still fresher than Krugman’s rant.

VON HOFFMAN AWARD NOMINEE: “In his years out of office, [former president Jimmy Carter] has avidly pursued the mission of what he calls ‘waging peace.’ He had some successes in trying to resolve a dispute between Ethiopia and the Eritrean rebels, negotiating a four-month cease-fire in Bosnia and brokering a deal between longtime enemies Sudan and Uganda.
But at times he has also encountered stiff criticism. In 1994, a few weeks before North Korean President Kim Il Sung died, he invited Carter to visit Pyongyang in an effort to calm tensions with South Korea and the United States over his nuclear weapons program. That meeting led to a thaw in Pyongyang’s relationship with Washington although former President Bill Clinton at first rejected the overture and the State Department, never appreciative of outside help, viewed the Carter visit as meddling. Eventually, Clinton wised up and tried to pursue Carter’s approach.’ – Helen Thomas, October 17. Thomas now has a clear lead.