You’ve heard of institutional memory? Well The New York Times has developed institutional Alzheimer’s.

Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus outlines the details of a story that is familiar to anyone who’s picked up a newspaper, watched the news on TV or listened to talk radio over the past few days:

[A]n important political figure, arrested for engaging in lewd conduct in a public men’s room. Married, with children, he told no one. Instead he pleaded guilty without even hiring a lawyer, hoping the problem would quietly disappear.

When, as was inevitable, the press got hold of the story, his erstwhile supporters quickly distanced themselves – and commissioned a poll to assess the political damage. His career in politics was over.

But wait. She’s not writing about Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID), but Lyndon B. Johnson’s right-hand man, Walter Jenkins, who was arrested in October 1964 for having sex in the men’s room of the Washington YMCA.

Just as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney wasted no time throwing Craig under the wheels of the campaign bus, Marcus notes: “When the story broke just a few weeks before the 1964 election, Johnson scarcely hesitated before instructing Abe Fortas to secure the resignation of Jenkins, his longest-serving aide.”

At the time, adds Marcus, “The New York Times editorialized that “there can be no place on the White House staff or in the upper echelons of government for a person of markedly deviant behavior.”

But here’s what the opinionmeisters at The Times had to say about the Craig scandal:

The Republican Party is in quite a rush to keelhaul Senator Larry Craig for his run-in with the vice squad in an airport men’s room. Disclosure of the senator’s guilty plea to disorderly conduct set off a frenzy to demand an investigation by the Senate’s somnolent Ethics Committee and to strip Mr. Craig of his committee seniority. Some of the senator’s peers simply demanded that he resign. …

The rush to cast him out betrays the party’s intolerance, which is on display for the public in all of its ugliness. But it also betrays their political uneasiness as the next election approaches.

In its rush to vilify the GOP over Craig summarily being stripped of his Senate committee assignments and forced to resign The Times did not acknowledge it’s own “intolerance” and “political uneasiness as the next election approaches” back in 1964. Once again, the paper’s hypocrisy is on display for the public in all of its ugliness.

Note: The Stiletto writes about politics and other stuff at The Stiletto Blog.

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