"Free Market Fealty" from GOP? We Wish

Plus: Headline writers try to sizzle Bush and free markets, but the stories themselves hold their liberal fire.

The best of Times, the worst of Times?

The Times' copy desk on Sunday wrote a couple of liberal headlines about the financial crisis that its actual stories couldn't cash in. Sunday's front-page story was reported by Peter Baker, Stephen Labaton, and Eric Lipton and written by Baker and appeared under this gleeful liberal headline suggesting a couple of free market advocates were changing their ideological tune - "A Professor and a Banker Bury Old Dogma."

The actual story soft-pedaled the glee over the alleged demise of Bush laissez-faire (a gross exaggeration in the first place)and stayedmostly straightforward.

Another sizzling headline came on Sunday, over Mark Landler and Sheryl Gay Stolberg's "As Fingers Point in the Financial Crisis, Many of Them Are Aimed at Bush," accompanied by an equally accusatory text box: "Appointments and an antipathy toward regulation are cited." But again, the actual storywas not all that slanted.

In more economic coverage, an A1 "Political Memo" Saturday by Jackie Calmes, "Dazed Capital Feels Its Way, Eyes on Nov. 4," misleadingly accused the Republican party of decades of "free-market fealty" (conservatives wouldwish!).

The huge bailout of the financial system that the Bush administration and Congress are rushing to draft will leave taxpayers with at least part of the bill at a time when high gasoline prices, job losses and stagnant incomes have already helped produce an overwhelming sense that the nation is on the wrong track.

Policy makers cannot say where it all ends. News reports are unrelentingly talking of "crisis." After decades of deregulation and free-market fealty, antiregulation, small-government Republicans are putting the government in control of a big chunk of the financial sector.

Yet domestic spending has risen during the Bush administration, partially driven by Bush's expensive new Medicare prescription drug program.