Great Minds Think Alike...So Do New York Times Columnists

Times columnists can't get enough of The Onion's humor: "Black Man Given Nation's Worst Job." Not as hard as coming up with new column ideas, apparently.

In Monday's edition of his 'Best of the Web' column, under the subhead "Recycling Is Garbage," Opinion Journal's James Taranto unveiled a humorous pattern of Times columnists recycling a satirical headline from The Onion that made an apparently profound point about the unfair burdens accompanying Barack Obama into office: "Black Man Given Nation's Worst Job." (Not as hard as coming up with new column ideas, apparently.)

* "Of all the coverage of Obama's victory, the most accurate take may still be the piquant morning-after summation of the satirical newspaper The Onion. Under the headline 'Black Man Given Nation's Worst Job,' it reported that our new president will have 'to spend four to eight years cleaning up the messes other people left behind.'"-Frank Rich, New York Times, Jan. 18, 2009

* "At the end of Bill Clinton's presidency in January 2001, the Web site The Onion declared: 'Our long national nightmare of peace and prosperity is over.' That was supposed to be satire, but in retrospect it proved a shrewd analysis. One measure of the bleak trajectory of the last eight years is that today The Onion looks equally astute when it says of the latest transition: 'Black man given nation's worst job.'"-Nicholas Kristof, New York Times, Jan. 22, 2009

* "Barack Obama is a guy who is accustomed to having stuff go right for him. He's gotten a lot of breaks: two opponents in his U.S. Senate race in Illinois felled by personal scandals; a mismanaged presidential campaign by Hillary Clinton; an economic collapse that set the stage for a historic win, memorably described by the satiric Onion newspaper as 'Black Man Given Nation's Worst Job.'"-Maureen Dowd, New York Times, June 2, 2010

* "Yes, President Obama inherited a huge mess from the reckless Bush team. The Onion was not far off in its satirical headline at inauguration time: 'Black Man Given Nation's Worst Job.' Obama deserves much more credit than he has received for stabilizing the economy and reviving the auto industry."-Thomas Friedman, New York Times, Nov. 28, 2010

* "But as we approach an election year, it is important to acknowledge the larger context: Obama has done better than many critics on the left or the right give him credit for. He took office in the worst recession in more than half a century, amid fears of a complete economic implosion. As The Onion, the satirical news organization, described his election at the time: 'Black Man Given Nation's Worst Job.'"-Nicholas Kristof, New York Times, Nov. 27, 2011