It's not every day that one of our columnists is attacked in print, and by name, by a leading official of an important country. So we thought our readers might like to know that the editor of our Friday Americas column, Mary Anastasia O'Grady, was accorded this distinction by Argentina's foreign minister, Rafael A. Bielsa, last Saturday.
Writing in Argentina's La Nacion, the influential Buenos Aires newspaper, Mr. Bielsa accused Ms. O'Grady of "neoliberalismo," which in the context of his article was not intended as a compliment. He linked her with such subversive organizations as the American Enterprise Institute, the Cato Institute and others who believe in what he called "the right to property." And it's true that Ms. O'Grady freely admits to a fondness for classical liberalism, presumably the ancestor of "neoliberalismo." As we define it around here, that is someone who believes in free trade, limited state interference with market processes, observance of the law by public officials and soundly based economic policies. Some of our best friends, not to mention some of the world's best rulers, are classical liberals.
Argentina's ruling Peronists clearly have a different philosophy, judging from their recent history of breaking contracts, destroying dollar holdings through "pesofication," freezing prices and marking down Argentine bonds to 34 cents on the dollar.
But what touched Mr. Bielsa off was a column by Ms. O'Grady on July 8, reprinted in La Nacion July 12, accusing the Argentine government of being soft on terrorists. She cited two examples of fugitives who had found shelter in that country. The column also mentioned that some members of the present government were once themselves members of the so-called Montoneros, who waged an unsuccessful guerrilla war against the Argentine government in the 1970s.
This has not been denied, although Mr. Bielsa in his article claimed it was courts, not the government, that have so far refused to extradite the fugitives to Spain and Chile. That would be a good point were it not for the fact, cited by Ms. O'Grady, that President Nestor Kirchner packed the Argentine supreme court by replacing existing justices with his own favorites -- which might have just possibly had some effect on Argentine jurisprudence.
Ms. O'Grady has been tough on the Kirchner government, though she is not quite as devilish as Mr. Bielsa imagines. He complains that when he visited the Journal last January, Ms. O'Grady didn't attend the meeting, but was observed "several times peering menacingly into the room." He used the Spanish word acechante to describe her mien, which can translate either to "threatening" or "menacing," as in a tiger lying in wait for its prey.
Ms. O'Grady may seem menacing to Mr. Bielsa, but to us she's a journalist who cares about the plight of ordinary Argentines and wants to promote ideas that will improve their lot in life. And, oh yes, she was somewhere else entirely when Mr. Bielsa thought he saw her peeking into the meeting room. It must have been some other Journal tiger, or tigress if you prefer.