Times Watch for July 1, 2004
Nader's Reputation "Tarnished" by Mixing With Repubs?
Bush and Kerry are neck-and-neck heading into the home stretch, with liberal activist Ralph Nader siphoning off some of Kerry's vital support. In what's surely pure coincidence, the Times is putting stories somewhat critical of Nader on its front page.
Michael Janofsky and Sarah Kershaw's Thursday story is titled "Odd Alliances Form In Efforts to Place Nader on the Ballot." It's an unusual three-sided story, hitting "left-leaning" Nader, the conservative groups helping Nader gain the ballot in various states, and the party operatives trying to prevent it. Still, the fact the Times is putting criticism of liberal hero Nader on its front page at all is something of an event.
They also note the Nader-Pat Buchanan connection: "Mr. Nader, the left-leaning consumer advocate, and Patrick J. Buchanan, the right-leaning commentator, hardly seem like political soul mates. But four years after Mr. Buchanan won the endorsement of the Reform Party, Mr. Nader has succeeded him as the party's standard-bearer."
It's not as strange as the Times makes it sound. Take this interview Nader conducted with Pat Buchanan, blared on the cover of Buchanan's magazine, The American Conservative, earlier this month. Nader has many "surprising" allies on the paleo-conservative right who agree with his positions against free trade, U.S. support for Israel and the Iraq War. In fact, the interview almost reads like an early endorsement.
The Times reporters suggest Nader is tarnishing his sainthood by affiliating with Republicans working to put him on the ballot: "But political analysts say that by turning to parties that may not be consistent with his ideology and reaping benefits from Republican operatives, Mr. Nader risks tarnishing his longtime reputation as a champion for consumer causes."
For the rest of the Times on Nader's fight for ballot access, click here.
" Pat Buchanan | Campaign 2004 | Ralph Nader
Bush Ad "Troubling," Nancy Reagan, "Attack Dog"
The Museum of the Moving Image has put up an interesting online exhibition of campaign ads from the past 40 years. Times TV reporter Alessandra Stanley uses it to hit a Bush online campaign ad she finds "troubling."
Reporter David Sanger took the Kerry campaign's bait on the subject last weekend. Now it's Stanley's turn to swallow the anti-Bush hook.
Stanley notes: "[The exhibition] also gives Internet users easy access to the current campaign's Web ads, which are more prevalent and troubling this election year than ever before. The Web site, for example, has the original version of a recent Bush Internet ad, 'Coalition of the Wild-Eyed,' which blended Democratic figures like Al Gore and Howard Dean with images of Hitler. After the Kerry campaign and others complained last week, the ad was re-edited by the Bush campaign to make it clearer that the Hitler images were taken from an anti-Bush ad posted on the Web site of MoveOn.org, the political advocacy group. (The Bush ad does not explain that the attack ad with Hitler's image was not adopted by either the Kerry campaign or MoveOn.org, but was posted only as one of hundreds of entries in an Internet contest seeking anti-Bush commercials.)"
How's that for a nice bit of turnabout? The Bush campaign runs clips of an anti-Bush ad comparing Bush to Hitler, and it's Bush who's blamed for bringing Hitler into the campaign.
Saluting a common media clich", Stanley writes: "This year's ads are far fiercer and more negative than those from 2000."
Her evidence is Democrat Al Gore's "polite" ad from 2000. In contrast, Republicans don't seem to be very nice at all: Bob Dole brought up Paula Jones in an "attack ad against Bill Clinton" in 1996. Earlier Stanley calls Dole an "attack dog," comparing his performance to a fascinating blast from the 1980 archives in which Nancy Reagan went after President Jimmy Carter on behalf of her husband Ronald Reagan: "Wives are so often used to soften a candidate's profile that it is easy to forget that 24 years ago Mrs. Reagan was sometimes deployed as a Bob Dole-style attack dog."
For the rest of Stanley on the exhibit, click here.
" George W. Bush | Campaign Ads | Campaign 2004 | Bob Dole | Sen. John Kerry | Nancy Reagan | Ronald Reagan | Alessandra Stanley | Television
U.S. "Transfer-by-Stealth" in Iraq
Neil MacFarquhar summarizes the Arab's world view of the Iraqi handover in "Arabs Assess US. Transfer Of Authority to the Iraqis."
"Arab governments and commentators gave a cautious welcome on Tuesday to the transfer of authority in Iraq, mostly saying they hoped that it would diminish the violence. Some, however, jeered at the United States for having created a false facade of Iraqi control. Many observers mocked the United States for its transfer-by-stealth. The American administrator, L. Paul Bremer III, quickly left aboard a military aircraft from the Baghdad airport, which the United States has failed to open to commercial traffic-one of many promises unmet because of constant violence."
One angle MacFarquhar fails to take: What the installation of a democratic process in Iraq might mean to ordinary Arabs who lack similar rights in their own countries-which could be the real reason Arab governments are keeping free Iraq at arms length.
For the rest of MacFarquhar, click here.
" Arabs | Iraq War | Iraq Sovereignty | Neil MacFarquhar
Michael Moore, "Genuine Son of the U.S. Working Class."
Socialist columnist Barbara Ehrenreich makes her debut on the Times op-ed page (subbing for book-writing Tom Friedman), buying into left-wing hagiography of Michael Moore to rebut the idea of a liberal elite.
"Sure, he's made a ton of money from his best sellers and award-winning documentaries," she admits. "But no one can miss the fact that he's a genuine son of the U.S. working class-of a Flint autoworker, in fact-because it's built right into his 'branding,' along with flannel shirts and baseball caps."
Ehrenreich writes: "I've experienced it myself: speak up for the downtrodden, and someone is sure to accuse you of being a member of the class that's doing the trodding".Yes, there are some genuinely rich folks on the left-Barbra Streisand, Arianna Huffington, George Soros-and for all I know, some of them are secret consumers of French chardonnays and loathers of televised wrestling. But the left I encounter on my treks across the nation is heavy on hotel housekeepers, community college students, laid-off steelworkers and underpaid schoolteachers".So liberals can take comfort from the fact that our most visible spokesman is, despite his considerable girth, an invulnerable target for the customary assault weapon of the right."
Is he really, now? Ehrenreich may have been suckered by Moore's populist shtick, but less starry-eyed writers have long seen through it. As the Weekly Standard's Matt Labash discovered in 1998: "But the working-class upstart from Flint actually came from the nearby bedroom community of Davison. John Lusk, who went to high school with Moore, describes their suburb as 'lily white,"solid middle class. It was idyllic"But you'd think listening to Mike [that he] lived in the pits of the Flint depression.'"Once Moore hit the big time, most journalists swallowed his bootstrap revisionism, ignoring the less sexy reality that Moore had sipped liberally at the usual funding spigots. Laurence Jarvik, in a much-over-looked piece in Montage magazine, reported that Moore (who claimed he had never made more than $15,000 a year before Roger & Me) had been an NPR commentator, received two $20,000 grants from the MacArthur Foundation, secured a hefty advance from Doubleday for a book about Flint, and benefited from the largesse of Stewart Mott, the black-sheep GM scion who ran a family fund out of his New York penthouse where Moore sometimes stayed."
For the rest of Barbara Ehrenreich's debut column, click here.
" Columnists | Barbara Ehrenreich | "Fahrenheit 9/11" | Michael Moore