You can pick any two when it comes to The New York Times’ Kate Zernike who’s been tasked with covering the Tea Party movement and conservatives in general – a task the Times would probably be handing to an anthropologist than one of their staff writers.
In a Friday article, Zernike describes the rule of law thusly:
Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, alluded to “The Road to Serfdom” in introducing his economic “Roadmap for America’s Future,” which many other Republicans have embraced. Ron Johnson, who entered politics through a Tea Party meeting and is now the Republican nominee for Senate in Wisconsin, asserted that the $20 billion escrow fund that the Obama administration forced BP to set up to pay damages from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill circumvented “the rule of law,” Hayek’s term for the unwritten code that prohibits the government from interfering with the pursuit of “personal ends and desires.”
National Review’s Jonah Goldberg dissects the ignorance displayed in that paragraph.
Everything about this is hilarious. The rule of law is an “unwritten code”? Really? I thought the rule of law was the code. The rule of law is not “Hayek’s term” (it’s A.V. Dicey’s). But the idea stretches back to the earliest days of Western Civilization. So on the one hand Hayek is obscure, but on the other hand he’s ecclipsed [sic] Aristotle, Locke, Montesquieu and the gang. Way to go Hayek!
If I had said a day ago that your typical New York Times reporter doesn’t have the vaguest sense of what the rule of law means, I would have heard from all sorts of earnest liberal readers — and probably some conservative ones too – about how I was setting up a straw man. But now we know it’s true. It’s not just that she doesn’t know what it is, it’s that even after (presumably) looking it up, she still couldn’t describe it and none of her editors raised an eyebrow when she buttered it.
Sometimes reading a newspaper can increase your ignorance – not the other way around.