Washington Awash With Conservative Hubris

January 28, 2005

"Washington Awash With Conservative Hubris"

"The Bush family omert demands silence and loyalty from all the president's retinue, so Mrs. Whitman's decision to speak out is in itself an outrage.The bitterness of the reaction is all the more surprising because Mrs. Whitman's book, like her public record, performs some astounding contortions to avoid criticizing the president himself. Mr. Bush's decision to break his campaign promise to curb carbon emissions from power plants? A reasonable choice, Mrs. Whitman argues, marred by poor public relations. She asserts, without irony, that Mr. Bush is a closet environmentalist, forced to hide his inner tree hugger for fear of riling Republican extremists.What Mrs. Whitman will find out in the coming months is this: With Republicans ascendant, and Washington awash with conservative hubris, is anyone in power willing to listen?" - From a January 26 profile of "moderate" Republican Christie Whitman, whose new book "It's My Party, Too" is critical of conservative Republicans.

Blaming Bush for What He Doesnt Say

"President Bush's opening statement at his news conference on Wednesday was striking for what it left out: any mention of the 31 Americans who died overnight in the crash of a Marine helicopter in Iraq, the largest number of American deaths in a single incident since the war began.More recently the president was criticized for not publicly speaking out about the tsunami victims in southeast Asia and for being slow to pledge aid." - White House reporter Elisabeth Bumiller, January 27.

"Far-Right" Scholarship

"It is tempting to dismiss the book as fringe scholarship, not worth worrying about, but the numbers say otherwise. It is being snapped up on college campuses and, helped along by plugs from Fox News and other conservative media, it recently soared to No. 8 on the New York Times paperback best-seller list. It is part of a boomlet in far-right attacks on mainstream history that includes books like Jim Powell's 'FDR's Folly,' which argues that Franklin Roosevelt made the Depression worse, and Michelle Malkin's 'In Defense of Internment,' a warm look back on the mass internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.The book reads less like history than a call to action, since so many of its historical arguments track the current political agenda of the far right." - Editorial board member Adam Cohen's description of "The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History," January 26.

Are Iraqis Really Reluctant to Vote?

"Iraqis Abroad Seem Reluctant To Vote, Too, Sign-Up Shows." - Headline to a January 26 story from Hassan Fattah.

Reality Check:

A recent survey of Iraqis in 16 of the country's 18 provinces by the National Endowment for Democracy found "over 80 percent stating that they are very likely or somewhat likely to vote on Jan. 30."

The GOP: Losing Through Winning

"President Bush begins his second term with the Republican Party in its strongest position in over 50 years, but his clout is already being tested by Republican doubts about his domestic agenda, rising national unease about Iraq and the threat of second-term overreaching, officials in both parties say.The critical question for Mr. Bush, his advisers and Democrats say, is the success or failure of his agenda, both in terms of getting it through Congress and winning support for it from the public. Recent polls show apprehension about important aspects of his Social Security plan, and an overwhelming sentiment that Mr. Bush does not know how to end the war in Iraq, which is increasingly unpopular." - From a January 24 story by Adam Nagourney and Richard Stevenson.

More of The "Looted Museum" Myth

"This was, after all, the museum from which an estimated 14,000 objects were looted following the American invasion of Iraq." - Fred Bernstein on the refurbished Iraq Museum in Baghdad, in the January 23 Arts section.

Reality Check:

"A different picture is emerging of the looting of the National Museum in Baghdad. Only a few dozen significant pieces, not thousands as originally reported, were stolen. And many, a new investigation has found, may have gone missing long before the Americans arrived in the Iraqi capital. US officials revealed yesterday that several of the most important pieces that were thought to have been stolen have now turned up safe.Staff there now say that only 33 major items and around 2,000 minor works have gone." - From a June 2003 account in the left-wing British newspaper The Guardian.

Bush Inauguration "InappropriateEven Unpatriotic"

"To many Democrats, images of Republicans in sequined gowns and designer tuxedos nibbling roast quail and twirling the Texas two-step in last week's $40 million-plus inaugural extravaganza seemed inappropriate, unseemly, even unpatriotic, when American soldiers are dying in Iraq." - James Dao in a January 23 Week in Review story headlined " 'Don't They Know There's a War On?' "

Warming Up the Image of Dick Cheney, AKA "Dr. No"

"So is this a new Dick Cheney? Or at least a new Cheney media strategy to warm up Dr. No?" - Elisabeth Bumiller's January 24 "White House Letter'" on Dick Cheney's appearance on the Don Imus radio program.

Republicans Won't "Blindly Follow" Bush on Social Security

"But over the last few weeks, it has become clear that his party is not going to blindly follow him on his proposal to overhaul Social Security, and that Democrats, while trying to regain their footing after their electoral defeat in November, are inclined to fight rather than compromise on many fronts." - White House reporters Elisabeth Bumiller and Richard Stevenson, January 21.

More of "Black and White" Bush

"Mr. Bush has seldom shied from seeing the world, or himself, in black and white. His ways and means are debatable, but his sincerity is hard to doubt." - Todd Purdum, January 21.