Rush and Racism - October 3, 2003

Times Watch for October 3, 2003

Rush and Racism

A Friday editorial, "Not Ready for Prime Time," lumps Rush Limbaugh's remarks about the sports media's embrace of Philadelphia's black quarterback Donovan McNabb in with other commentators it considers beyond the pale: "As any television pro could have warned ESPN, it turned out that Limbaugh was not ready for the big leagues. He stands more in the class of Jimmy (the Greek) Snyder, who made insensitive remarks about blacks, and Michael Savage, fired from MSNBC for wishing AIDS on a gay caller."

After insulting Rush Limbaugh, the Times goes on to smear his radio fans as well: "On ESPN's 'Sunday N.F.L. Countdown' this week, Limbaugh said the kind of thing that wins him legions of tub-thumping fans on radio but that understandably offends most other people."

The Times then notes: "Limbaugh quickly resigned from his ESPN gig. But he insists there was 'no racist intent whatsoever' and will not apologize, despite the outcry from McNabb's supporters, including an army of indignant Eagles' fans." (No doubt those same supportive Eagles fans lustily booing McNabb during his four-turnover performance in the Eagles' 31-10 loss to the New England Patriots September 14.)

For the rest of the Times editorial on Rush's resignation, click here.

Editorial | Football | Rush Limbaugh | Donovan McNabb | Racism | Sports | Talk Radio

The Times' Iraqnophobia

The report on Iraqi weapons by chief weapons inspector David Kay is out, and the Times is having a field day, claiming that it fails to back up the Bush administration's characterization of Saddam Hussein as an "imminent threat."

James Risen and Judith Miller's Friday front-pager, "No Illicit Arms Found in Iraq, U.S. Inspector Tells Congress," quotes Dem. Senator John D. Rockefeller: "I just think it's extraordinary that a decision was made to go to war, and that we were told by our highest policymakers that there was, you know, an imminent threat."

A Friday story by David Sanger ("A Reckoning: Iraq Arms Report Poses Test for Bush") makes that claim even more explicitly, stating: "The preliminary report delivered on Thursday by the chief arms inspector in Iraq forces the Bush administration to come face to face with this reality: that Saddam Hussein's armory appears to have been stuffed with precursors, potential weapons and bluffs, but that nothing found so far backs up administration claims that Mr. Hussein posed an imminent threat to the world."

But as Andrew Sullivan notes, Bush never made the "imminent threat" claim. Sullivan writes: "The administration claimed that Saddam had used WMDs in the past, had hidden materials from the United Nations, was hiding a continued program for weapons of mass destruction, and that we should act before the threat was imminent."

Reporter Sanger continues with a plug for Democratic presidential candidates (most of whom, by the way, voted in favor of this "unjustified" war): "While the report by the arms inspector, David Kay, is not final, and while the inspectors may yet come upon a cache of weapons, the preliminary findings support the claims of critics, including Democratic candidates, that Mr. Bush used dubious intelligence to justify his decision to go to war. At worst, these critics say, the usual caveats and cautions of the underlying intelligence reports were ignored in the rush to war."

The "rush to war?" As Opinion Journal editor James Taranto noted in a speech in March, before the war: "People were saying this six months ago, when President Bush took his case to the United Nations. Since then, the president has done everything asked of him: He's won congressional authorization for military action; he's persuaded the U.N. Security Council to give Saddam a 'final opportunity' to comply with his disarmament and other obligations, and he is even now pursuing yet another Security Council resolution explicitly authorizing force. A six-month diplomatic effort to win support is hardly a 'rush' to war."

Sanger continues: "Dr. Kay paints a picture of a dictator who would be pleased to develop biological and chemical weapons, some complex and others 'small and relatively unsophisticated.' But a similar case could be made about dictators in many other nations, including some that appear to be far ahead of Iraq. Part of Mr. Bush's task now is to explain why he has not raised the alarm about them as vociferously."

Well, partly because it's more difficult to go after a country with robust nuclear capability than it is to stop it from attaining that stage in the first place. That's why the U.S. is negotiating with North Korea.

Sanger grimly concludes: "Ex post facto explanations of war are difficult anytime. They are even more difficult in the midst of an unpopular occupation, more difficult and dangerous than the one the United States led in Japan and Germany in 1945, and fraught with political dangers for Mr. Bush in 2004."

For more of the story by James Risen and Judith Miller, click here.

For more of David Sanger's story, click here.

David Kay | Saddam Hussein | Iraq War | Judith Miller | James Risen | David Sanger | WMD

What Day Was That Again?

Another day, another Alex Berenson fatality update. Berenson writes in Friday's Times on the death of an American soldier in Iraq: "His death brought the number of soldiers killed in Iraq and Kuwait to 316 since the war began March 19. Since President Bush declared major combat operations over on May 1, 177 soldiers have died in Iraq and Kuwait."

Here's Berenson on Thursday: "Six soldiers have died in accidents and ambushes in the last two days, bringing to 315 the total number of troops killed in Iraq and Kuwait since the war began. Of those, 176 have died in the five months since President Bush declared major combat operations over on May 1."

And here's Berenson on Sunday: "More than 300 American troops have been killed since the war in Iraq began. According to Pentagon records, more than 160 have been killed since President Bush declared on May 1 that major combat operations had ended. At least 70 of those deaths have been the result of hostile fire."

Now, what day was that again?

Alex Berenson | Fatalities | Iraq War

Krugman In Wonderland

Paul Krugman's Friday column, "'Slime and Defend,'" predictably dives into the Joseph Wilson/CIA controversy over who leaked information on Wilson's wife, CIA operative Valerie Plame. Krugman's attitude is apparently "Sentence first, verdict afterwards."

He writes: "Someone high in the administration committed a felony and, in the view of the elder Mr. Bush, treason. End of story." Earlier in the piece Krugman makes himself out to be a victim as well: "The right-wing media slime machine, which tries to assassinate the character of anyone who opposes the right's goals-hey, I know all about it-has already swung into action."

For the rest of Krugman in wonderland, click here.

Columnists | Paul Krugman | Valerie Plame | Joseph Wilson.