"Here's a Washington political riddle where you fill in the blanks: As Alberto Gonzales is to the Republicans, Blank Blank is to the Democrats.... If you answered 'Harry Reid,' give yourself an A."
So begins David Broder's latest effort to force his shallow, utterly obsolete, both-parties-are-equally-to-blame-for-everything frame onto the news of the day. Is he suggesting that Reid is the beneficiary of rank cronyism? No. That he lies at the center of a fast-metastasizing scandal involving the politicization of law enforcement? Also no. That he is at best memory-challenged and at worst guilty of lying under oath? No, not that either. Rather the sum total of Broder's argument is that, like Gonzales, Reid is "a continuing embarrassment thanks to his amateurish performance."
That's not a column, it's a sentence, and not a particularly persuasive one. Broder is referring, of course, to Reid's comment that the Iraq war is lost--a gaffe certainly, though arguably one that fits the Kinsley definition. Broder bolsters his case with a few relatively obscure bloopers from Reid's past (e.g., the time he called Bush a "loser"), but in essence his column is an effort to argue equivalence between Reid's big mouth and Gonzales's apparent role in politicizing the Justice Department.
A comparison this cheap and lazy deserves one in response. So here's another Washington political riddle: As Alberto Gonzales is to the Republicans, Blank Blank is to Washington journalism. Hint: It's someone who's long since outlived his usefulness in his current job and become a widespread punchline, but who refuses to resign his post and whose employer would find it embarrassing and/or disloyal to fire him. Unlike Broder, I have confidence you can grade this one at home.