NY Times Page One Gloat: ‘Virus Battle Shreds the Right’s Political Playbook’

April 6th, 2020 5:12 PM

Monday brought two New York Times stories and two entirely different angles on how the ideologies of the American left and right are faring in the era of the coronavirus. It’s clear which one the Times thinks has failed, from the front-page headline over Jim Rutenberg’s story: “Virus Battle Shreds the Right’s Political Playbook.”

The text box: “Disdain for ‘Socialism’ Collides With Crisis,” with scare quotes included as if denying that the Democratic Party is pushing socialist policies. (The online headline was far more ambivalent: “Politics Through the Looking Glass: Virus Scrambles the Left-Right Lines.”)

Rutenberg’s piece was suffused with an undertone of gloating.

The 2020 edition of the Conservative Political Action Conference in Oxon Hill, Md., in February offered a theme-park version of what was to be President Trump’s re-election message: Under the banner of “America vs. Socialism,” the convention featured anti-Marx branded popcorn, an RV emblazed with the words “Socialism Takes Capitalism Creates” and a children’s book promoting personal freedom and private-property rights.

Speeches included tirades against big government and “Medicare for all.”


Four weeks later, with the coronavirus sinking the American economy, the federal government was preparing to cut $1,200 checks to tens of millions of citizens, part of a $2 trillion economic stabilization package that was also providing businesses with no-interest loans -- likely to be partly forgiven -- to pay their employees while they are shuttered.....

And the CPAC message seemed a relic from a distant time.

He insisted “fears are subsiding” now over socialist schemes like Medicare for All and Universal Basic Income, as if a worldwide pandemic that has virually shut down free markets could somehow vindicate socialist policies.

Republicans close to the White House argued that the party’s primary tenets were unshakable, even in this crisis.

Monday’s lead National section story by Astead Herndon and Ian Prasad Philbrick took on the same topic from the left, with considerably kinder results: “Progressives Built an Organizing Juggernaut. Then the Virus Hit -- A Setback in Promoting Candidates and Ideas.” The reportesr showed far more sympathy shown for the left-wing subjects, and no snark like the kind Rutenberg heaped upon conservatives. Instead they lamented how the coronavirus was getting in the way of donations to “insurgent congressional candidates.”

The grim picture may have a profound political impact for the general election and beyond. Democrats were poised to have an organizing juggernaut ready for the 2020 election, with the goal of both reaching new voters and helping reverse the state and local losses they experienced during President Barack Obama’s years in power....

Rutenberg suggested conservative ideology had been refuted by the crisis (despite deregulatory moves and bureaucratic bungling suggesting otherwise), while Herndon and Philbrick found the left had gained strength and “new resonance in this moment of crisis."