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Ken Bode, superstar

Ken Bode used to be the Dean of Medill. Prior to that, he hosted Washington Week in Review (a.k.a my mom’s favorite show) with what a more verbose weblogger might call aplomb. Now he’s a professor at my beloved journalism school. On Saturday, I e-mailed him to ask for an interview.

Prof. Bode,

I’m Dave Weigel, a Medill student currently enrolled in Craig Vetter’s Magazine Writing course. For the purposes of that course, I would very much like to interview you whenever you have a certain amount of free time. The subject and format would be somewhat freewheeling, in the style of Playboy’s main interviews. If you’re able and it would work better, I’d be open to talking over lunch or some other break during the day.

Respond when you get a moment – whether you’re interested or not, I hope you have a fine Sunday.

Respectfully,

Dave Weigel

In the morning, I got this reply:

David,

A freewheeling interview in the style of Playboy where you can ask me anything you can think up? How can I pass up an opportunity like that? Easy. Sorry, but good luck. Ken Bode

Shock. Amazement. Eventual understanding. Hell, I did ask the guy for an interview of the sort that nearly shitcanned Jimmy Carter. But I think I liked life better when I didn’t know my former Dean thought I was a jackass.

Song of the Day: Freed/Lane, “How About You?” (as heard in The Fisher King)

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Generations yet unborn will speak in hushed tones about this morning. Somehow, despite finishing the Chron at 3:30 and getting it to the presses at 7:30, I slept away the lifespans of several small insects. It’s 2:00 now and I have one discussion section and an appointment with the wonderful housing people – man, if I wasn’t such a college student, it wouldn’t seem busy at all.

Song of the Day: Phil Seymour, “Baby it’s You”

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Paul Krugman is obviously insane

The New York Times is available free to all NU students Monday through Friday. Unfortunately, that means the paper’s odious editorial page is also available five days per week. I won’t fudge words – it terrifies me that so many of my fellow students are, at this moment, reading Paul Krugman’s litany of propaganda, lies, and insults.

Nothing about his column makes a whit of sense. In the first sentence, an allusion to the French elections, he says “a slightly left-of-center candidate runs for president.” But Krugman is referring to Lionel Jospin, the Socialist French PM who presided over the June 13, 1998 bill that instituted the 35-hour work week. If that’s “slightly left-of-center”, what the hell is far left? Bourgeois death camps?

Let’s continue. Krugman says of Jospin that “his party has been running the country with great success: unemployment is down, economic growth has accelerated, the sense of malaise that prevailed under the previous administration has evaporated.”

I can only assume that some monkey-related practical joke created that editorial addition, because if Krugman wrote it he should be humiliated. Unemployment has risen in the last few year, from 8.0 to 9.0 percent. Joblessness among people under 25 is 20.5 percent. The World Socialist Web Site, if you can believe it, admits Jospin’s policies have left millions out in the cold and failed to address the nation’s problems. In no way is this analagous to the situation after Bill Clinton, which is Krugman’s point. And how Krugman can see the lowest turnout in the history of the Fifth Republic as a sign that the country’s out of its malaise is just beyond me.

It hurts to go on. Krugman asserts that “moderates … take it for granted that he will win, or that in any case the election will make little difference.” As an allusion to the U.S. elections, this makes no sense at all. I remember exactly two people saying Gore was going to win in a walk: Michael Moore and Studs Terkel. And I don’t need to tell you what astute political experts they are.

Oh, god, it’s all awful … Krugman calls anti-semitic france “by and large a tolerant, open-minded country” … he criticises conservatives for what “seems to bother them” (godless liberals, of course!) instead of the easily-sourced idea that, you know, they have a different theory of how to generate prosperity for the greatest number of people. He actually writes the sentence fragment: “And then there’s John Ashcroft.” Even Robert Scheer doesn’t sink that low.

What all of this proves, I think, is that Krugman is too simple-minded to maintain his column. To paraphrase him – rather, to paraphrase once of his lazier co-optings of a smarter writer – Krugman is a cancer on the Times. Who can take the paper seriously while he’s on board?

Song of the Day: Candy, “Whatever Happened to Fun?”

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Had an interesting exchange with Dan Schack, the managing editor of the Daily, in which he called me on the carpet for publishing a comment I overheard from Mindy Hagen, thus making her our first “Tool of the Week”.

“What were you thinking with that thing about Mindy?” he asked. And I told him the truth – I wasn’t being a journalist, I was just trying to make some people laugh. And I thought about that. I was being completely honest. Hell, I’d expected people to offended and I knew Mindy wouldn’t give two shits. But why would the managing editor of the Daily seek me out (after a discussion session we’re both in, of course) to seek explanations? Is he a good friend? Faithful manager? I told him that I’d select future Tools from comments on the public record, or comments they okayed. And I meant it.