Bush on Katrina: Visionless Conservative Hypocrite
Friday's "news analysis" by Richard Stevenson, "The President From 9/11 Has Yet to Reappear," follows in the slanted footsteps of his previous one. The text box reads: "Still looking for vision in the face of national calamity."
"Nine days after the United States was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush stood before a joint session of Congress and rallied the nation to a new mission. On Thursday, nine days after it became apparent that New Orleans and much of the Gulf Coast had been devastated by Hurricane Katrina, Mr. Bush stood in an auditorium across the street from the White House and directed storm victims to a Web site and a toll-free telephone number. There are obvious differences between the situations. But while the first showed Mr. Bush capable of commanding the nation's attention, transcending partisanship and clearly articulating a set of goals, the second has left him groping to find his voice and set out a vision of how the government and the American people should respond."
Stevenson implies Bush is some kind of conservative hypocrite: "But as Thursday's performance made clear, he has remained small bore in addressing the crisis, casting himself more as a manager than a leader. And as someone who regularly cites the virtues of limited government, he has been somewhat out of character in unleashing rather than reining in the kinds of social welfare programs he urged the storm's victims to sign up for on Thursday.But most of the rest of his speech was a guide to government assistance programs, including Medicaid, assistance for needy families, food stamps, housing and job training, many of which he has tried to trim in the name of leaner government."
Stevenson then suggests that waiving a union-backed requirement in order to speed up relief indicates a lack of compassion: "Mr. Bush's effort to strike a compassionate tone were also complicated by his decision to waive a requirement that employers who receive federal government contracts related to the relief effort pay their workers the prevailing wages for that kind of work in the area it is being done. The White House said the change was made to save the government money. John J. Sweeney, the president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O, called it 'unbelievable and outrageous.'"
Speaking of compassion, the corporation Wal-Mart, longattacked  in the Times for being anti-union, donated $15 million to Hurricane Katrina relief. We'll see if the AFL  proves equally generous.
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For the rest of Stevenson, click here. 
Has Sen. Landrieu "Mostly Held Her Fire" From Bush?
Friday's hurricane-related profile of Louisiana Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu is the latest in a long line  of pieces from congressional reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg on Bush-bashing pols.
In "Back From Her Vanquished City, Lawmaker Takes Senate Floor to Denounce the President," Stolberg discovers a new Hurricane Katrina media hero: "Ms. Landrieu, a Democrat who was nearly put out of office in 2002 after Mr. Bush campaigned intensely for her Republican opponent, had mostly held her fire against the president in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. But her tone changed markedly on Thursday, with a 20-minute speech that was at turns poignant and defiant."
Well, if she really did "hold her fire," Landrieu certainly didn't withhold the threat of her fist against President Bush. The Washington Post , which apparently has access to television, included this quote from Landrieu from ABC's "This Week" show last Sunday (Landrieu is defending the response of local officials): "If one person criticizes them or says one more thing, including the president of the United States, he will hear from me. One more word about it after this show airs and I might likely have to punch him. Literally."
For the rest of Stolberg on Sen. Landrieu, click here. 
Gay Marriage a Winner in California?
A Thursday story from San Francisco by Dean Murphy , "Schwarzenegger to Veto Same-Sex Marriage Bill," glosses over the fact that liberal California overwhelmingly rejected a similar measure in 2000.
Notwithstanding the issue's rejection five years ago, Murphy sees those opposed to the bill as a "conservative" minority versus an apparently non-political "coalition": "The bill, which defines marriage as between 'two persons,' won final legislative approval Tuesday night in the State Assembly by only a narrow margin, 41 to 35, after a coalition of gay, Latino and African-American groups successfully fended off conservative opposition to it by framing the issue as one of civil rights, not religious values. It passed by a single vote in the State Senate last week, meaning that neither house had a sufficient majority to override a veto."
The only nod toward the 2000 vote is this sentence, which fails to specify that the ballot measure passed by 61%: "In a written statement, Mr. Schwarzenegger's spokeswoman, Margita Thompson, made a nod to the civil rights arguments, but said the governor believed the bill was unconstitutional because of a ballot measure passed in 2000 that defined marriage as between a man and a woman."
But Murphy again implies that its those opposed to the bill that are in the minority: "Mr. Schwarzenegger, who had 30 days to act on the bill, found himself caught between the conservative pull of his Republican Party and a broad coalition of minorities and leaders who say the governor's personal views on same-sex marriage are probably closer to their own."
For more Murphy on Schwarzenegger's promised veto of a gay-marriage bill, click here. 
North Koreans Allegedly "Starved to Death?"
In his story Friday on the stop-and-start negotiations with the North Korean dictatorship over nukes, Joel Brinkley reports that America's new special envoy on human rights to North Korea will likely "complicate the talks."
"Jay Lefkowitz, an assertive, voluble former White House aide, was appointed last month to be a special envoy on human rights in North Korea, and made his first public appearance on Thursday. He said he planned to publicize whatever he learned about human rights abuses in North Korea, like allegations that the government holds political prisoners in concentration camps where they are 'starved to death,' as he put it."
Why the quote marks around "starved to death"?;
Does "as he put it" imply there is some doubt about what ordinary North  Koreans  are suffering?
For more on the article, click here.