The lack of ideological "balance" among the distribution of syndicated columnists (pointed out by Media Matters) ought perhaps to be considered in greater depth. (This is not to say, by the way, that "balance" is some kind of objective worthy for its own sake). Eric Alterman pointed out the other day that the "progressive" pundits tend to be far less ideological and much more prone to argue against "progressive" positions than ideological conservatives will argue against conservative positions: >Were I writing about it in detail, and I may, I would note that many of the top "liberal" columnists, including particularly Richard Cohen, Maureen Dowd, Nicholas Kistof, Susan Estrich, and Nat Hentoff, among others, are the kind of "liberal" columnists who feel no sense of loyalty whatever to liberals and liberalism and actually enjoy bashing them whenever possible. This is not true of the conservatives. And so the balance is actually much worse than it looks from these numbers and graphics. George Will, for instance, has remarked on a few occasions that the war in Iraq has been an unmitigated foreign policy disaster. Count how many times, however, liberals such as Joe Klein attack the progressive left. That's a good point. But there's more. E.J. Dionne spends most of his time on meta-political navel gazing: >As Virginia goes, so goes the Senate — and the nation? >The decision of former Virginia governor Mark Warner to run for the seat of retiring Republican Sen. John Warner is more than just bad news for the GOP. It reflects fundamental shifts in the balance of political power in the country, the growing force and volatility of suburban voters, and the fact that the old red-state-blue-state maps are becoming obsolete. That's really political reporting. What it's doing on the op-ed page is a mystery. Here's Jonah Goldberg, in another paper: >For years, some of the shriller voices on the left have argued Sept. 11, 2001, was a classic example of blowback from our support of the mujahedeen's struggle against Afghanistan. But the fact is, we didn't "create bin Laden" — he largely created himself. And to the extent that any superpower can claim credit for him, it's the Soviets. It was their withdrawal, not our support, that convinced the foreign fighters that their pinpricks felled the Soviet bear. >Today, a new blowback thesis is in the works. The Washington Post, Time magazine and The Associated Press are just a few of the news outlets that have asserted the U.S. is arming the Sunnis in Iraq. This is simply not true, Gen. David Petraeus insisted in congressional testimony Monday. But it's no surprise that many people are leaping to that conclusion because the familiar blowback story line is the only plausible one for millions of people who've made up their minds that the war is, was and forever shall be hubristic folly. Similarly, opponents of the war denounced Petraeus' testimony before he said a single word, not because they know the facts better than Petraeus — please — but because anything that doesn't fit the narrative of an ever-worsening quagmire must be a lie. Many war supporters have certainly forced reality to kneel before faith in recent years. But reality can't stay on bended knees for very long. Many Democrats, too, have been grudgingly breaking from their base's otherworldly narrative of late, though they continue to insist that a "political solution" can be had in Iraq without a concomitant military one. Even the Sunni insurgents are coming to grips with the fact that Al Qaeda doesn't have Iraq's best interests at heart. >But there is one group that is under no inclination to nod to reality: Al Qaeda. The jihadis' mission, as always, is to create a new reality. If the bin Laden of the late 1980s could convince himself that his motley crew delivered the death blow to the Evil Empire, leading to the formation of Al Qaeda, one can only imagine what lesson he and the bin Ladens of tomorrow would take from America's defeat in Iraq. That's a story line we should all hope won't be written. However full that passage is of sophisms (pick them out if you want), you have to admit that Goldberg has the courtesy to use the op-ed page in attempt to advance a thesis.