The Right's "Dr. Evil" - October 14, 2003

Times Watch for October 14, 2003

The Right's "Dr. Evil"

Contributing writer Matt Bai profiles Democratic activist John Podesta in "Notion Building," a long article for the Sunday Magazine on Podesta's strategy for rebuilding the liberal movement. Along the way, Bai gets a peek into a strategy session held by conservative "godfather" Paul Weyrich, a session that gives Bai the willies: "The prickly Weyrich presided with a scowl from the dais (he is now confined to a wheelchair), from which he exhorted the faithful to get their message out, using words that made him sound like some liberal's parody of Dr. Evil."

Bai's shocked reaction isn't surprising: Previously Bai called the late, liberal Republican John Chafee a "revered statesman" and claimed conservative economist Stephen Moore was part of a right-wing cabal that [Bush] administration officials would consult on a regular basis."

For the rest of Matt Bai's Podesta profile, click here.

Matt Bai | Conservatives | Magazine | John Podesta | Paul Weyrich

Nobody Here But Us "Progressives" and "Populists"

If presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich isn't a liberal, then just who is? Tuesday's story by Jennifer Lee on the official launch of Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich's presidential campaign launch is headlined: "Kucinich, Declaring for President, Takes Populist Stance." The L-word's missing from the headline and is nowhere to be found in Lee's article, though she does mention Kucinich's "progressive agenda" ("progressive" being a word many conservatives see as a euphemism for "liberal").

Kucinich certainly isn't hiding his left-leaning politics (which have become even more so after he gave up his pro-life credentials to make himself a more palatable candidate in the Democratic primaries): "'I am running for president of the United States to enable the goddess of peace to encircle within her arms all the children of this country and all the children of the world,' Mr. Kucinich said. 'As president I will work with leaders of the world to make war a thing of the past, to abolish nuclear weapons.'.He said he would return to bilateral trade by revoking United States participation in Nafta and the World Trade Organization, repeal the antiterrorism legislation called the USA Patriot Act, create a universal health care system, establish universal prekindergarten schooling and create a cabinet-level Department of Peace that would bring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s principles of nonviolence into government." Sounds liberal to Times Watch.

Lee later notes that Kucinich has "called for a study into whether reparations should be paid for slavery, noting that he has co-sponsored legislation to this effect with Representative John Conyers Jr., Democrat of Michigan. And he spoke on behalf of amnesty and legalization for illegal immigrants." Amnesty for illegals? That certainly doesn't sound "populist."

For the rest of Lee's story on the Kucinich campaign launch, click here.

Campaign 2004 | Rep. Dennis Kucinich | Labeling Bias | Jennifer Lee

The Post Outclasses the Times

At least one national newspaper recognizes an "obvious mistake" when it makes one. From Washington Post ombudsman Michael Getler's latest column: "On Oct. 4, The Post made an obvious mistake on the front page, reporting that chief U.S. weapons inspector David Kay had found 'no evidence for another one of Bush's key claims-that Iraq sought uranium in Niger.' Bush referred to Africa, not Niger, in the now famous 16 words in his State of the Union speech. The Post corrected this on Wednesday after several readers and an editor or two from newspapers that carry Post stories complained."

Good for the Post; such a move is right on its merits and also throws into deep relief the New York Times comparatively cavalier attitude toward the Niger matter-Times reporters continue to make the "obvious mistake" of conflating Niger and Africa, and continue to get away with it.

Africa | Corrections | Iraq War | Niger | Washington Post

Bush's Forbidden Love?

Paul Krugman is the main attraction of an October 18 fundraiser in Austin for the left-wing Texas Observer magazine, where liberal columnist Molly Ivins has twice served as editor. In anticipation, Krugman outlines his paranoid view of Republican politics in a fawning interview for the local Austin American-Statesman in which he dismisses Bush as a puppet of the ultra-right: "I don't know whether Bush himself is actually a hard-line ideologue. I suspect he probably just only cares about winning. But they've decided that the way to win is to give Grover Norquist (president of Americans for Tax Reform) and the Heritage Foundation and (Attorney General) John Ashcroft whatever they want." Judging by his obsession with Norquist, Krugman considers ATR's president the Keyser Soze of the right, an evil genius who always gets his way.

Krugman repeats his book-signing talking points: "And on economic and tax policy, they just routinely lie. Every important economic initiative coming out of the administration has been sold heavily on false pretenses." He then shows he reads his own paper, using the Q-word to describe Iraq: "The immediate problems are the sluggish economy, exploding budget deficit and what is starting to look like a quagmire in Iraq."

In a September interview with Dermot McEvoy of Publishers Weekly, Krugman speaks of the "uniquely fierce and vindictive" Bush family: "They are basically feudal. This is a family thing. They believe in family loyalty." After McEvoy points out the Kennedys could be characterized the same way, Krugman brings up the Schwarzenegger-Maria Shriver marriage and asserts: "Can you imagine the Bush family allowing some member to marry a liberal Democrat?" Only one question remains: Is the Bush family Montague or Capulet?

George W. Bush | Columnists | Paul Krugman | Grover Norquist | Quagmire | Arnold Schwarzenegger | Taxes | Vietnam

Minding Syria's Business

Neil MacFarquhar latest dispatch from Damascus, "New Rules for Israel and Syria," again gives Syria's side (a country on the State Department's list of state sponsors of terror) while refusing to identify anti-Israel terror groups as terror groups. Instead, MacFarquhar simply says Hamas and Islamic Jihad have been "labeled" so by Israel and the U.S., as if there's room for doubt.

MacFarquhar writes for Monday's paper: "Weakening the Assad government, many Syrian and Western analysts here believe, is the point. Having failed to stem the violence fomented by the Palestinians through attacks on Mr. Arafat and what Israel calls terrorist targets inside the occupied territories, the Israeli government is turning its sights on bigger targets.The campaign against Damascus is rooted in the accusation that two groups labeled terrorist organizations by the United States and Israel, among others-Hamas and Islamic Jihad-are orchestrating suicide bombings from here. Few analysts expect that the elimination of their representatives here would do much to dent such operations."

For more of MacFarquhar from Damascus, click here.

Hamas | Israel | Neil MacFarquhar | Palestinians | Syria | Terrorism