Times Watch for July 28, 2004
Selling John Kerry's Foreign Policy
Roger Cohen's front-page story Wednesday on what Kerry must do to win is headlined "Kerry Must-Sell: A Tough Foreign Policy." And Cohen helps sell it.
He writes: "".advisers to the Democratic candidate believe that even a change of tone, with a limited change in substance, will have a dramatic effect on the nation's international standing. This now suffers from the wide perception of American arrogance, dishonesty and ineptitude in the preparation and conduct of the war in Iraq."
Then Cohen warns: "Of course, nothing, not even good intentions, is more vulnerable to events than a foreign-policy platform. Mr. Bush came to office dismissing the notion of nation-building; he is now an advocate of building democratic nations in an entire region, the Middle East."
So "good intentions" can no longer include the idea of "building democratic nations" in the Middle East?
Cohen later outlines: "For now, the Kerry strategy seems clear. He has chosen to give his acceptance speech under the slogan 'Stronger at Home, Respected in the World.' The second clause reflects a conviction that Mr. Bush has destroyed the nation's moral authority through a might-is-right mixture of hubris, carelessness, bullying and incompetence. 'We have lost the good will of the world,' Mr. Kerry said late last year. There are signs that more Americans now share this view. Support for the war in Iraq, where more than 900 Americans have died, has eroded sharply. Mr. Bush's clear lead on national security issues has gone with it."
Then Cohen contrasts Kerry's cosmopolitanism to Bush's parochialism: "By instinct and upbringing Mr. Kerry dislikes broken bridges. Raised partly in Europe, speaking French and German, he is an internationalist who tends to seek coalitions in the belief that they best preserve and extend American power. Mr. Bush, by contrast, did little to reach out to allies early in his presidency and has given the impression that his favorite trips are to Texas".Rather than a system of fealty and punishment, Mr. Kerry hopes to emphasize cooperation even when there are differences."
For more of Cohen on Kerry (and Bush's "hubris"), click here.
" George W. Bush | Campaign 2004 | Roger Cohen | Democratic Convention | Iraq War | Sen. John Kerry
Howell Raines' Anti-Republican Rage
Now that former Executive Editor Howell Raines is off his NYT leash, his pompously written excoriations of Republicans and hosannas to old-style economic liberalism have become even more entertaining and screed-like.
The op-ed page of Tuesday's Washington Post featured Raines' essay, "Winning the Populism PR War," a benign title that doesn't hint of the rather paranoid views lurking within. In his piece on what the Kerry-Edwards ticket must do to win back the middle class, Raines goes so far as to attack another media outlet, the Weekly Standard: "In times gone by, Democrats were regarded as the master panderers of American presidential elections on the basis of their supposed belief in generous benefits for the working class. But as Democrats gather in Boston, they do so as a party that has surrendered the title. The Republicans are now the champion panderers in American politics and have been since they discovered the demagogic value of what Rupert Murdoch's Weekly Standard disingenuously calls 'cultural populism.'"
Raines derides social conservatism as a fa"ade that hides prejudice: "Various reporters have written incisively this year about the egalitarian roots of economic populism and mutant populism's darker legacy as a vehicle for nativist prejudices. These discussions were occasioned in large part by the impact on the Democratic primaries of John Edwards's message about 'two Americas'-George W. Bush's country of tax breaks for the rich and war contracts for Halliburton, and the poorer outback America that has lost 2 million to 3 million jobs under Bush, lacks health insurance, and has buried nearly a thousand of its sons and daughters killed in Iraq."
He continues berating "cultural populism": "What will not change, unless Kerry forces the issue, is the shell game by which the GOP uses 'cultural populism' to get millions of Middle Americans to vote against their financial, medical and educational interests. How was cultural populism-which had its roots in Barry Goldwater's opposition to civil rights legislation and Richard Nixon's racially divisive 'Southern strategy'-turned into a political positive in the public relations sense?"
Then Raines really unloads: "Rupert Murdoch's kept journalists at the Weekly Standard deserve much of the credit. The journal attacks economic populism as 'condescending' and 'patronizing,' because it implies that the masses require government protection from the military-industrial, investment banking and petroleum complexes. But 'social,' or 'cultural,' populism is praised as a genuine expression of national values. Thus acceptance of the agenda of Bush social policy-abortion, gay marriage, school prayer, guns-is required, even by people who know better".As long as affluent, educated Republicans are allowed to control wealth in this country, they're willing for the rednecks to pray in the public schools that rich Republicans don't attend, to buy guns at Wal-Marts they don't patronize, to ban safe abortions that are always available to the affluent, and to oppose marriage for gays who don't vote Republican anyway."
Raines whines: "Liberal intellectuals, journalists and candidates have been trying to explain the class interests inherent in the tale of America's true and aberrant populism for a long time now. It's a hard job made harder these days by the Republicans' success in convincing the political press that a rational appeal to voters' economic self-interest amounts to what the Republicans, and Democratic cooperationists such as Sen. Joe Lieberman, mislabel as 'class warfare.' In Bush's America, it seems only the rich are allowed to invoke self-interest as a valid voting motivation."
He concludes by likening the Republicans to modern-day robber barons, while patronizing Republican middle-class voters as being "political prisoners" who don't know where their real interests lie: "The system has never been more thoroughly gamed than by Bush and his minders. For that matter, the class warfare has not been so intense in the United States since the days of the robber barons. But so far only one class is fighting, and the ever-widening income gap in America shows who has been winning. At the Democratic convention, there'll be a lot to watch for by way of a predictor of the November election. One I'll have my eye on is whether Kerry-Edwards seem to have a plan for freeing the political prisoners of George W. Bush's brand of cultural populism."
For Raines in full rant, click here.
" Campaign 2004 | Class War | Democratic Convention | Editorial | Howell Raines
Neil Lewis and Bill Carter report on declining ratings for the Democratic Convention in "TV Networks See Decline In Viewers; Cable Gains." Near the end they point out: "Among cable news channels, CNN, which now routinely loses to Fox News on normal nights, had more viewers for the Democratic convention on Monday night, a result almost certainly to be reversed when the Republicans, Fox's natural constituency, take the stage next month." So Fox is the clear home for Republicans, yet liberal Democrats aren't a natural constituency for CNN?
For the full story on declining ratings for the convention, click here.
" Campaign 2004 | Bill Carter | Democratic Convention | Fox News | Neil Lewis | Television
Celebrating Barack Obama
From the front page of Wednesday's convention special edition, Katharine Seelye (with reporting from Brian Wingfield and Jonathan Hicks) celebrates the Democrat's young new hope Barack Obama, black Senate candidate from Illinois and keynote speaker for the convention: "Barack Obama took the dais as the keynote speaker at the Democratic convention here on Tuesday and told a classic American story of immigration, hope, striving and opportunity. He did not speak of race or civil rights or a struggle for equality".He drew rousing applause, and tears in some cases, for lines like, 'There's not a liberal America and a conservative America. There's the United States of America.'"
Seelye doesn"t challenge liberal conspiracy theories of black disenfranchisement in Florida: "Representative Charles B. Rangel, Democrat of New York, said that many blacks were motivated by the disputed vote in Florida in 2000. 'Black folks started campaigning against Bush right after the last election was stolen,' Mr. Rangel said. 'You put out the word to the black man and say 'Don't forget Florida,' you are putting out the most powerful message that we can put out politically.'"
Then Seelye contrasts Kerry with Bush on racial issues. Predictably, Bush comes off worse: "Mr. Kerry chose Mr. Obama to deliver the keynote address long before Mr. Bush asked black voters last week to consider voting Republican. Some said they were insulted by Mr. Bush's pitch. 'African-Americans are smart,' said Mayor Douglas Palmer of Trenton, the president of the National Conference of Mayors. 'They realize that we have given the Republican Party a chance going all the way back to Abraham Lincoln.'"
For the full Seelye on Barack Obama, click here.
" Campaign 2000 | Campaign 2004 | Democratic Convention | Barack Obama | Katharine Seelye | Voting Rights
Nagourney Spots Liberal Views When Cameras Are Off
Reporter Adam Nagourney picks up on a little ideological massaging in the DNC speaker line up on Tuesday night, in his Wednesday filing, "A Convention Shaped for Different Audiences."
Tuesday night is the one night the broadcast networks all chose not to cover live, and Nagourney points out how the Democrats made it a liberal celebration: "The show was different on Tuesday. It was a night to cheer Howard Dean and Edward M. Kennedy, two liberal icons in the Democratic Party, to listen to Teresa Heinz Kerry talk about her husband and to sing along with Peter Paul and Mary as they once again performed 'Blowin' in the Wind.'".For anyone watching Mr. Clinton on Monday night-or who will tune in Wednesday or Thursday in what one senior Kerry aide described as the 'gold standard of prime time, from 10 to 11'-the campaign is moving to convey the image that Mr. Kerry said he wanted to show this week: of the forward-looking, positive campaign.
But when the attention of the networks slipped away, this has in many ways been a familiar kind of Democratic convention, providing a forum to the groups and interests that have long been central to the Democratic coalition, and more than a few lines that Mr. Kerry might consider a tad over the top. The stage on Tuesday and early Monday was opened to speeches from representatives of the Teamsters, teachers and groups favoring abortion rights."
For the rest of Nagourney on what the Democrats were up to when no one was watching, click here.
" Campaign 2004 | Democratic Convention | Liberals | Adam Nagourney
Democratic Party's "Proud" Civil Rights Legacy?
Robin Toner and Todd Purdum tell of the Democrats efforts to close ranks against Bush in their front-page story, "On 2nd Night, Unity Is Theme For Democrats."
They insist: "It was a night when the party not only paid tribute to its proud legacy as the advocate of Social Security and civil rights but also showed its striking unity and discipline in the face of the fall challenge to Mr. Bush."
But there's also a far less cheery view of the Democratic party's "proud legacy" as the "advocate"of civil rights," especially the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protected the rights of blacks to vote.
As R.D. Davis of Project 21 notes: "The Congressional Quarterly of June 26, 1964 (p. 1323) recorded that, in the Senate, only 69% of Democrats (46 for, 21 against) voted for the Civil Rights Act as compared to 82% of Republicans (27 for, 6 against)".In the House of Representatives, 61% of Democrats (152 for, 96 against) voted for the Civil Rights Act; 92 of the 103 southern Democrats voted against it. Among Republicans, 80% (138 for, 34 against) voted for it."
For the rest of the Times on the Democrats' "proud legacy" on civil rights, click here.
" Campaign 2004 | Civil Rights | Democratic Convention | Todd Purdum | Ron Reagan | Stem-Cell | Robin Toner
John Kerry's Photo Flop
Wednesday's "Political Points" sidebar column, compiled by Sheryl Gay Stolberg and John Tierney, has an amusing take on John Kerry's embarrassing photo-op from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, in which Kerry was caught clambering out of a space shuttle hatch in something resembling a blue bunny suit.
They write: "If there was anything Senator John Kerry's strategists were hoping to avoid this week, it was the image of a Massachusetts liberal in funny headgear. This is Boston, after all, the home of Michael Dukakis, whose presidential aspirations ended not long after he was photographed in a tank wearing a helmet that made him look like Rocky - as in Rocky and Bullwinkle. So what went wrong in Cape Canaveral? Mr. Kerry's aides say privately that they had no idea anyone would be photographing him when he visited NASA in Florida on Monday and donned a special suit to tour the space shuttle Discovery. But someone was, and the resulting photo made him look like the sperm played by Woody Allen in 'Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex but Were Afraid to Ask.'"
(Of course, as the poses in the pictures indicate, Kerry knew perfectly well he was being photographed in his spiffy aqua-blue "clean environment suit.")
For the full story on the Kerry photos, click here.
" Campaign 2004 | Democratic Convention | Sen. John Kerry | Sheryl Gay Stolberg | John Tierney
"Feisty" Teresa Heinz Kerry
Tuesday's online "Morning Briefing" from reporter Katharine Seelye previewed last night's speech by Teresa Heinz Kerry, but soft-pedals the controversy over the would-be first lady's "feisty comments."
Seelye says: "Mrs. Heinz Kerry is the outspoken, unpretentious (though very wealthy) wife of the man who is to be nominated for president on Thursday. The country first got a glimpse of her in a series of disconnected snippets from the primaries, when her partly cloudy countenance seemed disconnected from her husbands growing success. The country is now seeing her self-confidently making a series of feisty comments. On Sunday, she told a conservative editorial writer to 'shove it.'"
In their daily "Political Points" column for Wednesday, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and John Tierney deal with Heinz Kerry's "shove it" comment, but don't bring up what prompted the confrontation in the first place: Her use of the phrase "un-American traits" to describe opponents of her husband John Kerry.
That's a particularly odd omission, given the paper's hypersensitivity to Republican's (usually non-existent) questioning of Democrats' "patriotism."
Credit Times TV reporter Alessandra Stanley for digging deeper into the "un-American" issue Wednesday: "[NBC anchor Tom] Brokaw was the only one to ask Mrs. Heinz Kerry what she meant by 'un-American' in describing Republicans, the same question she pounced on so fiercely when it was posed by the Pittsburgh newspaperman. Plainspoken she was not. 'Un-American, to me American politics means the art of the possible, it means discussion, it means, for lack of a better word, a Socratic behavior,' she began."
Yet even Stanley points out that the object of Heinz Kerry's contempt was a "conservative Pittsburgh newspaper."
In each case, the Times makes a point of identifying the conservative politics of the newspaper in question, as if that somehow is a partial excuse for Heinz Kerry's outburst.
" Democratic Convention | Teresa Heinz Kerry | Sen. John Kerry | Labeling Bias | Sheryl Gay Stolberg | John Tierney
NYT Abortion Cheerleading: Been There, Done That, Bought the T-Shirt
Wednesday's Corrections box brings an embarrassing and revealing Editors' Note, prompted by public outcry over a notorious pro-abortion first-person essay that appeared July 18 on the back page of the Times Sunday magazine. And further probing shows that when it comes to pro-abortion cheerleading, the Times has not only been there, done that, they bought the T-shirt, too.
The note reads: "The Lives column in The Times Magazine on July 18 gave a first-person account of the experience of Amy Richards, who had been pregnant with triplets and decided to abort two of the fetuses. Ms. Richards, who told her story to a freelance Times Magazine contributor, Amy Barrett, discussed her anxiety about having triplets, the procedure to terminate two of the pregnancies and the healthy baby she eventually delivered; she expressed no regret about her decision. The column identified Ms. Richards as a freelancer at the time of her pregnancy but should have also disclosed that she is an abortion rights advocate who has worked with Planned Parenthood, as well as a co-founder of a feminist organization, the Third Wave Foundation, which has financed abortions. That background, which would have shed light on her mind-set, was incorporated in an early draft, but it was omitted when an editor condensed the article."
Blogger Dawn Eden argues: "New revelations make it increasingly probable that the New York Times not only knew Amy Richards was an abortion-rights activist, but even timed its article to coincide with Planned Parenthood's mass-marketing of her 'I had an abortion' T-shirt."
Eden discovered that Richards herself wore the T-shirt on the cover of a Connecticut newspaper.
For an image of Times' contributor Richards wearing the "I had an abortion" t-shirt, click here.
For Amy Richards' proudly pro-abortion essay, "When One Is Enough," click here.
To read the Editors' Note in full, click here.
" Abortion | Editors | Gaffes | Planned Parenthood | Amy Richards