April 22, 2008

Thomas Frank Now WSJ Opinion Columnist!

In an incredibly refreshing and unprecedented move, the WSJ has seen fit to hire leftist pundit Thomas Frank, regular contributor to Harper's Magazine and celebrated author of the New York Times bestseller What's The Matter With Kansas: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America as a regular columnist every Wednesday starting May 12. For the first time in history as far as I know, the WSJ's staunch rightist editorial section has chosen to bring genuine balance to its pages. His first column appeared yesterday and is available here.

Judging by how much hate mail I got from my last WSJ letter calling out Wall Street for blithely cheering Spitzer's fall (see below), the journal is surely setting itself up for a continuous onslaught of reader wrath with this new column.

Frank's book is in the news again because many take Obama's much-debated analysis (of hopelessly underemployed rural voters acting against their true interests by clinging to guns and religion) to be inspired by it. Turns out that the overwhelming majority of rural Republicans do not evidently vote based on such ideological reasons. In fact, it would seem to be the more city-dwelling and higher-educated rightists who do. See Bartels' much discussed NYT op-ed on this. And Krugman's the very next day.

Frank's new position promises to revive the WSJ's staid and musty editorial page, which until now had become almost medieval in its advocacy of what might best be called free-market feudalism, i.e. plutocracy (rule by the wealthy). For example, the journal's editorial the day of Al Gore's Nobel Peace Prize was a lament listing all the other nominees assumed to be more meritorious. Amazingly, the editors still cling to the notion that global warming is an overblown farce.

Finally a bit of balance. It's been a long time coming!