For three years running, I've closed the Old Year with a seasonal burst of bile, my annual Five Worst Op-Eds column.
As before, this year's malicious listicle rewards bad arguments and bad writing, with extra points for warped values.
For warped values, it's hard to beat Professor Posner's lament that free-speech absolutism "prevent[s] the U.S. government from restricting the distribution of a video ['the Innocence of Muslims'] that causes violence abroad and damages America's reputation." Today, hurtful videos spread "as fast as the Internet can blast them, beyond the power of governments to stop them."
In Posner's view, technology has made the entire world a crowded theater, so turn off your cellphone and pipe down: "Americans need to learn that the rest of the world—and not just Muslims—see no sense in the First Amendment."
If so, score one for the overused concept of "American Exceptionalism."
"We are a nosy country," Granderson, a weekly CNN.com columnist, complains. Some people even insist on investigating the "Fast and Furious" federal "gunwalking" debacle.
But "not everything is our business," Granderson insists, comparing the scandal to Iran-Contra: illegal and maybe ineffective, but "done as a way to make America safe." There you go, case closed.
Yes, it reads like the poor man's Jonathan Swift, but there's no indication it's deliberate satire.
From here to the end, it's a clean sweep for the Gray Lady. Bronze goes to Brooks, who here scolds Americans for their lack of deference toward "people at the top." Is that because the elites have lately delivered an unholy financial and fiscal mess? No, says Brooks, it's mostly our "cynicism" and "vanity." I suppose we'll have to audit the class on "Humility" he's teaching at Yale this spring.
Here, for the silver, is MoDo's fever dream of a President Obama who's finally attentive to her emotional needs. She gushes over Obama's "caring reactions" to Hurricane Sandy, an alleged improvement over his post-BP-spill coolness: "I couldn't help thinking of a 'Star Trek' episode, 'The Naked Time,' " she writes, wherein "a strange red liquid that causes everyone [on the Enterprise] to emote like crazy. Even Spock starts crying inconsolably because he can't tell his mother how much he cares about her. ... Has President Spock, who bounded into action on Sandy and rocked a New Jersey woman in his arms, really grown?"