Andrew Rosenthal: Bush Has "Done Serious Damage to Civil Liberties"

The Times' editorial page editor (pictured here) also says David Brooks is a "conservative," but has no idea where Maureen Dowd stands.

Andrew Rosenthal, who oversees the editorial board as editorial page editor for the Times, is taking readers' questions this week, and is busily revealing his classicallyTimesian (liberal) view of the world.

"But there are enormous issues facing this country in the economy, health care, education, crime, terrorism, the war in Iraq. It is our job to keep those issues front and center for our readers. We believe that the war in Iraq has gone disastrously wrong, and that it is vital to keep writing about it and yes, President Bush's missteps, mistakes and misrepresentations are central to that story. Similarly, we believe that this administration has done serious damage to civil liberties and the Bill of Rights, and we think there are few things more important than the freedoms for which this nation has stood for more than two centuries. We are also passionate about the protection of the environment; equal rights for all; the preservation of the role of science in our society, versus religion and ideology; and other issues on which this president is vocally a member of the opposing camp."

The questions are surprisingly free of the usual assumptions made by the Times' elite liberal readership. At one point, Rosenthal was asked why there are so few conservatives on the Times Op-Ed page.

"It is true that we don't have many conservative columnists on the Op-Ed page. Actually, right now, we have David Brooks, who gets to be the dunking target for a lot of readers because he's a Republican and a conservative. Most of our other columnists are clearly not either, although I would defy anyone to label Maureen Dowd by party affiliation or ideology. I've known her and worked closely with her for 20 years and I can't tell you the answer to either one."

Rosenthal is evidently not terribly observant.

Brooks is a highly iconoclastic conservative, if he's one at all (he seems pretty unbothered by the Democratic takeover of Congress in 2006). And although Maureen Dowd took cracks at Hillary Clinton during President Clinton's campaign finance scandals during the late '90s, she's more than made up for thatwith her seven-year excoriation of Bush, Cheney and the GOP.

Dowd has longshowed her partisan stripes, even when shewas a reporter for the paper.Back in November 1990, when Dowd was White House reporter for the Times, she wrote this about former President Ronald Reagan's autobiography, "An American Life."

"Reading the former President's memoir, I found it impossible to escape the thought that a better title would be The Mannequin Speaks ....To what extent do we prefer myth to reality, the comfort of strong convictions at the expense of facts? To what degree do we become complicit in believing black is white, if we are emotionally attached to a politician who tells us it is so? Do we crave a king who is beyond criticism and oblivious to it?"