It turns out you can deny evolution and get published on the New York Times op-ed page. Dan Slater did just that, in a January piece called “Darwin Was Wrong About Dating.” Slater, author of a book about online dating, set out to debunk one aspect of a subspecialty known as evolutionary psychology, which, among other things, seeks to use Darwinism to explain behavioral differences between men and women.
Evolutionary psychology suggests that differences in sexual behavior, which we tend to understand in moral or cultural terms, are biologically rooted. Since the male makes the lesser investment in reproduction, men are driven to favor quantity over quality. They are especially attracted to youth and beauty because these are signs of fertility. One man can reproduce with many women, so there is no evolutionary need to be selective. The most efficient way to pass on a genetic legacy is to father as many children by as many women as possible.
PRIOR TO ELECTION DAY, I had been planning a triumphal column explaining how Mitt Romney’s victory vindicated the Taranto Principle, but events intervened. Here instead is a circumspect column explaining how Barack Obama’s victory vindicated the Taranto Principle.
The Taranto Principle, named after yours truly by Spectator editor R. Emmett Tyrrell, posits that the liberal media’s uncritical coverage often disserves liberal politicians by making them complacent, thus encouraging bad or foolish behavior. The classic example is from 2004, when journalists failed to question John Kerry’s self-presentation as a war hero. Along came the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, and Kerry was undone by a scandal for which an adversarial press would have left him prepared. (See “Kerry’s Quagmire,” TAS, July/August 2005.)
It is time to finally settle the argument about public broadcasting: End federal funding now. Congress had no business offering it in the first place. Lost in all the noise now about the peril to Big Bird and Barney is the indisputable fact that public broadcasting is part of the press, and the press is supposed to be independent of government. The Founding Fathers recognized this with the First Amendment, and everyone else should now recognize it, too. There is simply no way around this. The arguments about public broadcasting will remain, intractable and insoluble, so long as it stays on the dole.
ONE OF THE MOST UNUSUAL ASPECTS of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision upholding Obamacare was the speed with which journalists punctured the court’s secrecy. Three days after the ruling in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, CBS’s Jan Crawford, citing “two sources with specific knowledge” of the court’s deliberations, re ported that Chief Justice John Roberts had initially voted to hold the individual mandate unconstitutional, then changed his mind. Two days after that, lefty law prof Paul Campos reported at Salon.com that “a source within the court with direct knowledge of the drafting process” had confirmed the Roberts flip but also claimed, contrary to Crawford’s account, that the chief justice had drafted much of what ended up being the dissenting opinion of four associate justices.
Whatever the truth of the details in dispute, and apart from the legal merits of the case, the leaks reflect poorly on Roberts’ management. The Court looked like a dysfunctional executive agency or political campaign, with aggrieved players pleading their cases anonymously to the press.
POLITICS MAKES STRANGE BEDFELLOWS. Just ask Rand Paul and Tina Brown.
Two days after President Obama made the dramatic yet unsurprising announcement that he supports same-sex marriage, Paul, Kentucky’s junior senator, joked to an Iowa crowd: “Call me cynical, but I wasn’t sure his views on marriage could get any gayer.” Then Brown, editor in chief of Newsweek, dubbed Obama THE FIRST GAY PRESIDENT on the magazine’s cover, which featured a photo illustration—at least one assumes it wasn’t a straight photo—of the president with a rainbow halo.
Paul’s joke was widely condemned, with the lefties at ThinkProgress.org crowing that “even Tony Perkins” of the conservative Family Research Council found it “unacceptable.” Of course, although Paul and Brown made essentially the same joke, the tone was different. Paul’s jest was mocking, while Brown’s was a sympathetic in-joke. The Newsweek article was written by Andrew Sullivan, who had made “The Case for Gay Marriage” in a New Republic cover story way back in 1989.