A Three-Week Old "Spotlight" on GOP Senator's Anti-War Speech

Catching up from lastThursday,here's reporter James Risen, co-author of the Times #1 Lowlight story of the year for 2006, with"Senator in Spotlight After a Critical Iraq Speech."

That would be Republican Sen. Gordon Smith.

"At the close of the Senate's lame-duck session, in between formulaic tributes to senators departing voluntarily or otherwise, a Republican backbencher suddenly rose to give one of the most passionate and surprising speeches about the war in Iraq yet delivered in Congress.

"For a solid Republican who had originally voted for the war, the words spoken by the senator, Gordon H. Smith of Oregon, on the evening of Dec. 7 were incendiary and marked a stunning break with the president.

"'I, for one, am at the end of my rope when it comes to supporting a policy that has our soldiers patrolling the same streets in the same way, being blown up by the same bombs day after day,' Mr. Smith said. 'That is absurd. It may even be criminal.'"

Dan Riehl at NewsBusters has Risen's piece pegged: "There is no spotlight as the headline suggests. There is no new news at all. There isn't even really any new angle. The Times simply held onto what they obviously perceive as a real anti-war gem that was already copiously reported," including in the Times on December 8.

Risen descends into lazy liberal cliches: "But within days of the Iraq speech, Mr. Smith emerged as a new spokesman for an endangered political species: the moderate Republican.

"In the process, Mr. Smith may have signaled that some moderate Republicans in the Senate are poised to break openly with the White House on the war, just as President Bush is seeking a new strategy to deal with the bloody stalemate in Iraq."

On October 31, Times Watch found the Times has referred to "moderate Republicans" as an "endangered species" seven times sine Bush's election, a high number for such an arcane description. There were no references to "moderate Democrats" as endangered.