Republican Rebels Call for Iraq "Exit Strategy"
Sheryl Gay Stolberg finds anti-war sentiment even among Republicans in Thursday's "'Exit Strategy' Is More Than a Whisper in Washington, With Lawmakers Speaking Out."
Stolberg stacks the deck from the start, using a mother who lost her son in Iraq to set the scene: "Celeste Zappala, whose son died in Iraq, visited Capitol Hill on Wednesday to demand 'a very quick exit strategy.' Her timing was perfect. With opinion polls showing a drop in support for the war, and a British memo asserting that the Bush administration had intended to go to war as early as the summer of 2002, the words 'exit strategy' are being uttered by both Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill.
"The flurry began over the weekend, when Representative Walter B. Jones of North Carolina, a conservative Republican, called for the Bush administration to set specific goals for leaving Iraq. That came from the man who was once so upset about French opposition to the war that he insisted that House cafeterias change the name 'French fries' 'freedom fries.' But it does not end there."
But unravel the "flurry," and there's less there than Stolberg wants us to think.
According to Jones' Congressional website, he is not calling for a "date certain" for U.S. troops leaving Iraq: "I am NOT in favor of any immediate withdrawal nor do I support setting an end date at which time all troops must be out of Iraq. What I do support is a public discussion of our goals and the future of our military involvement in that country. The non-binding resolution I am co-sponsoring will do no more than call on the President to set a plan and a date to begin reducing the number of troops we have in Iraq. It does not in any way, shape or form set a date certain for withdrawal."
Stolberg then cites three liberal legislators making various anti-war statements, as if three anti-war congressmen coming out against the war's progress is newsworthy. Note that while Rep. Jones is called "conservative," the three liberal Democrats are left unlabeled, par for the course in Stolberg's reporting.
"Senator Russell D. Feingold, Democrat of Wisconsin, has introduced in the Senate a measure similar to the nonbinding resolution that Mr. Jones is offering.On Thursday, Representative John Conyers Jr., a Michigan Democrat, will convene a forum on the so-called Downing Street Memo, a leaked document that appeared to suggest the White House had made a decision to go to war in the summer of 2002. Next week, Representative Rahm Emanuel, an Illinois Democrat, is planning to read on the House floor the names of approximately 1,700 Americans who have died in the war."
Regarding the over-hyped Downing Street Memo and the timing of Bush's "decision" to go to war, Tod Lindberg writes in The Weekly Standard, "Yes, some in the Bush administration thought from early on that war would be the only way to take care of the Saddam problem. But the decision isn't made until the president says he has decided. That's what makes it a decision."
After finding another pro-war Republican, Rep. Howard Coble, who said he was "inclined to embrace" Jones' nonbonding proposal, Stolberg leaps on Coble's statement as if it exemplifies a brewing Republican rebellion: "Such comments by Republicans would have been heresy before last November's election, because no one in the party wanted to weaken President Bush. But now, with 2006 midterm elections approaching, members of Congress are hearing from constituents who are growing uneasy about the war."
The bottom line: One pro-war Republican congressman put forward a resolution calling for a plan to eventually begin removing troops from Iraq. Another says he may sign on to it. Despite the headline, that may qualify as a "whisper" of a story, after all.
For the full Stolberg, click here:
Playing Up a Pro-PBS Scooplet
Kenneth Tomlinson, chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, is shaping up to be the paper's latest white whale of a crusade, judging by Thursday's front-page story from Stephen Labaton, "Pay to 2 Lobbyists by Public TV Is Investigated."
Says Labaton's anonymous sources: "Investigators at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting are examining $15,000 in payments to two Republican lobbyists last year that were not disclosed to the corporation's board, people involved in the inquiry said on Wednesday."
Labaton justifies his latest anti-Tomlinson story: "While the amounts of the contracts are relatively small, the issues they pose are part of a broader examination by the inspector general of Mr. Tomlinson's efforts to bring what he says is more political balance to public television and radio and what critics say is political interference in programming. It comes as Republicans in Congress are threatening to cut support for public broadcasting sharply, and as a number of crucial staff members at the corporation have quit and privately cited concerns on Mr. Tomlinson's leadership."
Labaton insists Tomlinson's quest for balance at the taxpayer-funded institution is wrecking morale and causing dissension in the ranks: "The inquiry comes as Mr. Tomlinson finds himself at the center of a political battle that threatens to reduce the corporation's budget significantly, and internal turmoil that has sharply eroded morale and recently prompted significant staff defections. The corporation's general counsel, Donna Gregg, left the corporation this month. Last week, Nancy R. Rohrbach, the senior vice president for corporate and public affairs, submitted her resignation."
For the full Labaton on PBS, click here: