Richard Stevenson: Bush as Lame Duck, Once Again
Sigh. Another week, another analysis  from White House reporter Richard Stevenson warning Bush is losing influence. Monday's version is titled "Some in G.O.P. Call on Bush to Focus on Governing," a strained effort to portray Republicans as having doubts about Bush's effectiveness: "President Bush and his hard-charging political team, which seemed to make all the right moves in winning re-election last year, have stumbled when it comes to governing in a second term, many Republicans say, leaving the White House scrambling to get back on track."
"Should Mr. Bush have a Supreme Court vacancy to fill - a possibility that could present itself as early as Monday - it could further inflame partisan passions and complicate the prospects for the rest of his agenda, including his push for major new energy and trade legislation this summer, members of each party said."
Later Stevenson says: "The White House dismissed suggestions that Mr. Bush and his team had lost their touch and were struggling."
Again the Times spins comments by Bush adviser Karl Rove about soft liberal reaction to 9-11 as a political gaffe, but apparently have yet to do the same of Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin's explosive remarks comparing a U.S. military prison to Nazi concentration camps and the Soviet Gulag: "Yet [Rove] continues to play his traditional role of tending to Mr. Bush's conservative base, exposing him to Democratic criticism that he too easily subordinates good policy to politics. Last week, he infuriated liberals by suggesting they had been insufficiently aggressive in their response to the Sept. 11 attacks, causing a flare-up in partisan tensions just as Mr. Bush is entering a period in which he needs some Democratic support to get his initiatives through Congress."
After talking at length of Bush's vulnerability, Stevenson switches gears and says that Bush is so powerful people are afraid to criticize him (perhaps to hide the fact that among current and former congressional Republicans, Stevenson could only find former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to criticize Bush on the record): "Mr. Bush still so dominates politics in Washington that there is little open criticism of him, and few Republicans are willing to challenge the strategy of Mr. Rove and other top aides. But behind the scenes there is increasing grumbling about the White House's political style."
To read Stevenson in full, click here: 
When the "Denver Three" Take on Bush, it's Biblical
Elisabeth Bumiller's "White House Letter" Monday focuses on a left-wing Internet cause celebre, the "Denver Three" kicked out of a Bush forum on Social Security in Denver three months ago by a man they thought was a Secret Service agent. Headlined "Evicted 'Denver Three' Gain Support in Quest," it comes with a large flattering, posed photo of the three.
Bumiller frames the confrontation in Biblical terms: "For President Bush, it is bad enough that his campaign to sell Americans on his overhaul of Social Security has not been considered a brilliant success. Now a flap over who got to go to one of the president's recent Social Security events has erupted in a swing state, showing the power of a dogged little anti-Bush group now called the Denver Three to irritate the Goliath of the White House. Three months ago, the three were thrown out of a taxpayer-financed Bush Social Security event in Denver by a person they thought was a Secret Service agent, reportedly because of a 'No More Blood for Oil' bumper sticker on one of their cars. Similar incidents have occurred at other presidential events around the country, and the three have not been silent since."
To read Bumiller, click here: 
Pro-Life Sentiments, Pro-Abortion Headlines
It's rare enough to hear pro-life sentiments in mainstream culture. For a Times writer to praise it is rarer still.
Here's Times music writer Kelefa Sanneh on a new single, "Can I Live?," by hip-hop artist Nick Cannon: "Maybe you can't buy a greeting card to thank your mother for not aborting you, but now there's a hip-hop track expressing that very sentiment.He is no one's idea of a brilliant rhyme-spitter, but sometimes content trumps form, as when he rewinds to his very early years - as a fetus - to declare, 'Mommy, I don't like this clinic/Hopefully you'll make the right decision/And don't go through with the knife decision.' There should be a special Grammy reserved for the first politician (on either side of the aisle) who finds a way to appropriate this strange but not unmoving song. And Mr. Cannon deserves recognition, too, for finding a truly startling way to express a rather simple thought: he's happy to be alive."
National Review Online editor Kathryn Jean Lopez writes  about Cannon: "Nick Cannon wanted to send a supportive word out to scared teen mothers, a grateful word to those 'strong women' who choose life."
Too bad the copy desk can't get into the spirit, judging by the headline it slapped on the story: "An Unborn Fetus With a Message for Mom." A fetus is by definition unborn, but apparently "unborn baby" sounds too pro-life for the Times.
To read the rest of Sanneh's brief review, click here: 
Mayor Bloomberg: Not Gay Enough for the Times
Monday's Metro section reports on New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg at the annual gay pride parade. For reporters Mike McIntire and Robin Shulman it's apparently not enough that the mayor attend the parade, chiding him for his refusal to identify himself as "gay for a day" to a reporter, suggesting to the Times a lack of commitment on gay rights.
"As New York City's master of ceremonies, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg routinely makes the obligatory declaration of solidarity with whatever group is sponsoring a parade - he was an honorary Puerto Rican, for example, on National Puerto Rican Day. But the spirit of the day seemed to elude the mayor at the start of the annual gay pride parade down Fifth Avenue yesterday, and he demurred when asked by a reporter if he would declare himself 'gay for a day.' 'Let me get back to you on that,' Mr. Bloomberg said with a grin, adding that he would have his press secretary prepare 'a very clever but ducking answer.' The moment, while lighthearted, seemed to capture the complexity of Mr. Bloomberg's rocky relationship with gay rights advocates. Like his restrained presence at the parade, the mayor's policies toward same-sex marriage and benefits for domestic partners often seem to express a tempered enthusiasm: He supports both, but with reservations that prevent him from issuing marriage licenses to gay couples or requiring that companies doing business with the city extend benefits to partners of gay employees."
For more from McIntire and Shulman, click here: