The GOP's "Political Dossier" on a Freshman Democrat

Scary stuff or just politics as usual?

Raymond Hernandez reported from Milford, N.Y. Tuesday on one congressional race that's staring early - Republicans are trying to knock freshman Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand's out of her seat representing the 20th district of New York - "Barely in Office, but G.O.P. Rivals Are Circling."

In the first of a promised series of articles that will focus on Gillibrand's first term in the House, Hernandez maintained the same see-no-liberals pattern he used back when he covered Sen. Hillary Clinton for the newspaper. If the term "liberal" is used at all, it's as a term "Republicans call" Democrats. Yet the Times constantly label Republicans conservativewithout any hedging necessary.

"It may seem unusually early for the opposition to begin mobilizing against Ms. Gillibrand, who only recently wrote and introduced her first bill since arriving in Washington four months ago. But the maneuvering reflects a growing confidence among Republicans that they can win back the district, where the vast majority of voters are registered to their party.

"Indeed, Republican officials in Washington are so confident of Ms. Gillibrand's vulnerabilities that they say they intend to field test an array of themes in the district that they believe can be applied to other freshman Democrats around the country.

"Chief among those themes: Ms. Gillibrand's willingness to collect special-interest money despite having deplored the influence of special interests in Washington as a candidate last year, and her propensity for voting with what they call the party's left-leaning leadership after having campaigned as a centrist."

Does anyone doubt Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi's liberal bona fides?

Hernandez managed to make run-of-the-mill partisan politics sound slightly sinister.

"Republicans are also depicting Ms. Gillibrand as a liberal who is cloaking her true ideological leanings behind the politically moderate language she employs in her public appearances in the district, as well as in her mailings.

"Mr. Nolan, the Republican leader in Saratoga, is seeking to tie Ms. Gillibrand to the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi - a strategy that is also being employed by Republican operatives in Washington who are compiling a political dossier on Ms. Gillibrand."

A Nexis search indicates the Times hasn't used the term "political dossier" in the text of a news story since a 1992 piece involving accusations of spying within the Los Angeles Police Department.