An Anti-Republican Protest, As Reported by a Protestor
Princeton University student and Times stringer Elizabeth Landau's May 6 anti-Frist story (which TimesWatch cited for bias) earns the following editor's note on Saturday:
"An article on May 6 described a demonstration at Princeton University against the proposal by Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader and a Princeton graduate and board member, to bar filibusters on judicial nominees. The writer, a freelance contributor who is a Princeton student, did not disclose to The Times that before she was assigned the article, she had participated in the demonstration. The Times does not ordinarily allow its writers to cover events in which they have taken part, and the paper's staff and contributors are not permitted to join rallies or demonstrations on divisive issues. The writer says she was unaware of these policies."
(Incidentally, reporter LindaGreenhouse did a similar thing, marching at an abortion rights rally in 1989 while covering the Supreme Court for the Times, an assignment she still holds.)
Landau has certainly kept busy. As the anti-Frist protest entered its second week, she repackaged the story for CNN's website. She also contributed to an earlier story about the Princeton protests than ran in a New Jersey paper, The Star-Ledger, three days before her own story in the Times.
For the full editor's note on Landau, click here:
Anti-Bush Graduation Protests: Another Bush Gaffe?
In her Monday White House Letter, "Preaching to the Choir? Not This Time," Elisabeth Bumiller reads the mind of Bush's chief political operator Karl Rove: "It's that time of year again when President Bush turns up around the country in sumptuous commencement robes, assures thousands of college graduates that a C average does not preclude the presidency and urges them to go forth and do good. Calvin College, a small evangelical school in the strategic Republican stronghold of Grand Rapids, Mich., seemed a perfect stop on Saturday for the president's message. Or so thought Karl Rove, the White House political chief, who two months ago effectively bumped Calvin's scheduled commencement speaker when he asked that Mr. Bush be invited instead."
While continuing the mind probe, Bumiller revels in the resulting anti-Bush protests at the college: "But events at Calvin did not happen as smoothly as Mr. Rove might have liked. A number of students, faculty members and alumni objected so strongly to the president's visit that by last Friday nearly 800 of them had signed a letter of protest that appeared as a full-page advertisement in The Grand Rapids Press. The letter said, in part, 'Your deeds, Mr. President - neglecting the needy to coddle the rich, desecrating the environment and misleading the country into war - do not exemplify the faith we live by.'"
Bumiller finds the rather predictable commencement protest to be sociologically significant: "At first glance, it seemed as if a mainstay of Mr. Bush's base, the Christian right, had risen up against him. At second glance, the reality was more complex. The protests at Calvin showed that Mr. Bush's evangelical base was not monolithic and underscored the small but growing voice of the Christian left."
Bumiller, as she's donein the past, tries to spin the incident as a political gaffe: "One question is whether Mr. Rove knew what he was getting into when he asked that Mr. Bush be invited to Calvin, a theologically conservative college in the tradition of the Christian Reformed Church that is politically more progressive than other evangelical colleges. (Faculty members estimate that about 20 percent of students opposed Mr. Bush in 2004.)"
For the full Bumiller, click here:
What's the Matter With Working-Class Bush Voters?
Roger Cohen writes a regular column for the Times' international edition and also contributes foreign policy reporting to the Times Week in Review section, like Sunday's "Communists as Creditors: China and the U.S. Worker" to the Times' Week in Review section.
After talking about China's possible devaluation of the yuan, Cohen speculates the move could raise U.S. interest rates and then asks: "But what are the politics of debt? The Democratic Party has traditionally represented the have-nots, but these days a great many working-class and middle-class Americans with constant or declining incomes identify more with God, the armed forces and the Republican Party than with the Democrats. They have tended, with the conspicuous exception of African-Americans, to be less moved by the strain on their finances than by three other 'F's' - faith, family and freedom - as promoted by Republicans."
Cohen goes to a popular current liberal source to ponder why middle-class and working-class Americans aren't voting for what Cohen considers their natural allies: the Democrats: "Thomas Frank, the left-leaning author and political analyst, calls these average working people who seem to be voting against economic logic 'backlash conservatives.' In an article in The New York Review of Books, he noted that they refuse to support liberals portrayed by Republicans as 'either high-born weaklings or eggheads.' In this vision of things, America today is a country with wide swaths of its citizens drifting economically, using ever-increasing debt as a means to cushion the blow, but convinced that the Democratic Party has parted company with them by embracing values - same-sex marriage, abortion, secularism - that are unacceptable, not only in their eyes, but also in God's."
Cohen furthers the liberal idea that Republican electoral success on values (or as he writes, "values") is a false side issue detracting from the real story of economic inequality fostered by bills signed by Bush. "And in this portrait, it does not matter that President Bush wants to tighten bankruptcy laws in a way that will favor the very credit card companies that are offering loans that may prove unpayable. It matters that Mr. Bush is seen as rooted, patriotic, a real man, and, for some, a divine agent in the White House. The Republicans' success in purveying this message is striking. Which brings us back to Mr. Hu. Could the Chinese leader do what the Democrats have failed to do - get more ordinary Americans to focus squarely on the perils of their economic situation and conclude that it may be better to vote Democratic?"
Later he sets out a possible chain of events and puts quotation marks around "values," as if the subject is not an appropriate issue for voters to make decisions on: "If China then reduces its purchases of Treasury bills, and other Asian central banks follow suit, one thing is certain: Interest rates will rise and Joe Six-Pack will be hurting a lot more when credit card bills arrive. If the pain is sharp enough, will a political alternative - the Democrats - look more attractive? We live in a wondrous world. It could just be that a Chinese Communist, leading a society hellbent on capitalism and prodded by a Republican administration, ends up helping what still passes for the left in America by driving the economic reality of personal debt home to the point where 'values' issues become secondary."
That sounds almost like wishful thinking.
For the rest of Cohen on "values," click here:
"Fiesty" Howard Dean vs. Republican "Hate" for John Kerry
Monday's story by chief political reporter Adam Nagourney concerns DNC chairman Howard Dean's much-anticipated appearance with Tim Russert on Sunday morning's "Meet the Press."
In "Dean, Feisty and Unbowed, Stands By Words on DeLay," Nagourney uses rather mild adjectives (as does the headline) to describe the past rantings of DNC chairman Howard Dean, which included Dean saying House majority leader Tom DeLay was likely to go to jail over ethical transgressions while calling on DeLay to step down. Dean also told Russert: "I hate what the Republicans are doing to this country, I really do."
To Nagourney's ears, these were "freewheeling remarks" and at worst "bruising attacks" and a "blistering review." Nagourney notes Dean "declined to back off any of the more noteworthy statements he made during his tour." Nagourney does note that liberal Rep. Barney Frank has castigated Dean's remarks about Tom DeLay.
After listening to Dean, Nagourney blandly suggests the chairman "left little doubt on Sunday that he is a different party leader than his predecessors or his counterpart in the Republican Party, Ken Mehlman."
That attitude is a contrast from what Nagourney and his headline writers have said about past Republican rhetoric. During the Republican Party's Manhattan convention, Nagourney described Rudy Giuliani's rhetoric about John Kerry as "ruthless" and "harsh" over a headline that read: "Loves Dogs, Hates Kerry: A Two-Prong Campaign Tactic," and a subhead: "The Bush strategy is to vilify Kerry. Compassionately."
In March of last year, Nagourney described "a fierce campaign of attacks led by President Bush, an orchestrated barrage of criticism by Republican elected officials and an imminent sweep of hard-hitting television advertisements," as attempts to "discredit John Kerry." And in July he described a "fierce attack" by Bush on Kerry. None of those "fierce" and "ruthless" attacks by Republicans rose to the level of suggesting Kerry report directly to jail, however.
For the full Nagourney on Dean's MTP appearance, click here:
Saturday's lead story by congressional reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg, "In Rare Threat, Bush Vows Veto Of Stem Cell Bill," emphasizes Republican divisions.
"The veto threat, just days before a House vote that could come as early as Tuesday, is exacerbating tensions between the White House and Congress at a time when Mr. Bush already faces obstacles on Capitol Hill. His Social Security proposal is having a hard time gaining traction, and his nominee for ambassador to the United Nations, John R. Bolton, is generating intense opposition. Now the embryonic stem cell debate is creating divisions among Republicans, putting Mr. Bush in a difficult spot and reviving a contentious issue that dominated the early days of his presidency.The stem cell debate is not only splitting Republicans in Washington. With states like California - where Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, backs the research - developing ambitious stem cell programs, and other nations moving ahead, some lawmakers warn that Americans are at an economic and scientific disadvantage."
For the full Stolberg on stem cells, click here: