More "Parallels" Between Vietnam and Iraq - October 13, 2003

Times Watch for October 13, 2003

More "Parallels" Between Vietnam and Iraq

"Revisiting McNamara and the War He Headed" is Stephen Holden's Saturday review of the documentary film "The Fog of War." Knowing the Times, one looks for the comparison of Vietnam to the Iraq war-and one won't be disappointed:

Holden writes: "It was our lack of empathy, [Vietnam-era Defense Secretary Robert] McNamara asserts, that also caused the United States to get so deeply embroiled in Vietnam. What the United States viewed as an extension of the cold war the Vietnamese regarded as a civil war. Parallels can be found between Vietnam and the current war in Iraq. Then, as now, the United States acted without the support of most of its allies."

For the rest of Holden's predictable review, click here.

Stephen Holden | Iraq War | Robert McNamara | Movies | Vietnam

Lieberman: Your Average "Centrist" Joe?

Edward Wyatt's front-page story for Monday (misleadingly headlined "Lieberman, the Centrist in the Middle of the Pack,") claims: "Many Democrats say Mr. Lieberman's prospects are diminished by the same factors that help him stand out from others in the field: he is a centrist, but his middle-ground stands, while advantageous in a general election, are not helpful in winning over the hard-core Democrats who are critical to winning primaries.Mr. Lieberman's strategy is to turn his centrist credentials into an asset in states where Democrats are generally more conservative than they are in Iowa and New Hampshire."

This pattern of labeling the liberal-leaning Lieberman a centrist is an old one. As the MRC reported in 2000 when Lieberman was introduced as Al Gore's vice presidential candidate: "He may not be a left-wing liberal, but hes certainly no centrist either. Just look at the ratings. Hes earned a lifetime 'Liberal Quotient' of 77 from the Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) for his votes since 1989. As a way of comparison, House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt has received 71 percent approval from the liberal group over his congressional tenure. In 1999, Lieberman was assessed 95 percent from ADA while the American Conservative Union (ACU) gave him a zero for that year, making him one of the Senates eight most liberal Senators in 1999. His lifetime ACU rating: 19 percent."

For more of Edward Wyatt's profile of the "centrist" Lieberman's campaign, click here:

Campaign 2004 | Labeling Bias | Sen. Joseph Lieberman

Adam Cohen's Charming Conservative Assumptions

In his Sunday editorial, "A New Kind of Minority Is Challenging Louisiana's Racial Conventions." Times editorialist Adam Cohen implies that Republicans must either change their policies to appeal more to blacks, or else be eternally suspect on racial issues.

Writing about Indian-American Republican Bobby Jindal's first-round win in the Louisiana governor's race, Cohen makes the charming assumption that conservative racism could cost Jindal: "Mr. Jindal's ethnicity, which has drawn little attention so far, could be a factor in the runoff.To win, he will need overwhelming white support. If even a small percentage of white conservatives hold his ethnicity against him, it could cost him the election."

The opening to Cohen's editorial is no less insulting: "The election-night blowout at the Astor Crowne Plaza in the French Quarter last weekend was something rare in Republican politics: a truly biracial event. But even though 33 percent of Louisiana-and 67 percent of New Orleans-is black, there was scarcely a black reveler there." (Sounds like the Ralph Nader rally Times Watch attended a couple of years ago at Madison Square Garden-but that's another story.)

Cohen stacks the deck, seeming to imply that even if the Indian-American Jindal wins as a Republican, it will just mean that Asians are acting white: "Blacks who have run for governor in recent years got less than 35 percent of the vote. It may be that they were too liberal, but it may also be that the state remains resistant to a black governor. If Mr. Jindal wins, it may mean not that race no longer matters in Louisiana, but simply thatAsian-Americans now fall on the white side of the racial divide." Is Cohen's world really so black-and-white that he can only visualize a single racial divide? What ever happened to diversity?

Cohen concludes that the Republicans' only hope for redemption is to become more like Democrats: "If Mr. Jindal is Louisiana's next governor, he will be hailed by national Republicans as a symbol of inclusion, a new Colin Powell or J. C. Watts. But he will be a hollow symbol if he ends the white lock on the governor's mansion despite overwhelming opposition from the state's blacks. If the Republican Party really wants to be inclusive, in Louisiana and nationally, it needs to start finding nonwhite candidates that nonwhites want to vote for."

For the rest of Adam Cohen's story on Republicans and race, click here.

Campaign 2003 | Adam Cohen | Editorials | Indian-Americans | Bobby Jindal | Louisiana | Racism

Nagourney's Non-Story on Conservative California Worries

Political reporter Adam Nagourney files another evidence-thin non-story on how Schwarzenegger's win could be bad news for Republicans. In Saturday's "Republicans Debate Merits of Following Schwarzenegger to the Center," Nagourney again strains to fit his hypothesis into an inconvenient matrix of facts: "Mr. Schwarzenegger's sweeping victory stirred anxiety among some conservatives, as much as it has cheered moderate Republicans, who have seized on it as evidence of how the party should position itself to fortify its standing, even at a time when it has proved increasingly dominant in American politics."

Later he repeats the charge: "Yet many have expressed hesitation about this new symbol of the party, questioning his ideological bona fides and wondering how the party could embrace someone who was confronted with accusations that he groped and made lewd comments to more than a dozen women."

But of the "many" conservatives and Republicans who Nagourney says have showed concern, the only name he comes up with is columnist George Will, who is influential but just one columnist.

For more of Nagourney on Schwarzenegger, click here.

California | Conservatives | George Will | Adam Nagourney | Arnold Schwarzenegger

Cheney Lashes Out

Saturday's front-page features a story by Eric Schmitt on a speech by Vice President Dick Cheney with the leading title, "Cheney Lashes Out at Critics of Policy on Iraq."

Schmitt positions Cheney as a heavy on Bush's political team: "Vice President Dick Cheney lashed out on Friday at critics of the Bush administration's Iraq policy, ridiculing their arguments against the war as nave and dangerous in a speech that was a culmination of a campaign by the White House to regain support for the postwar effort."

Cheney was speaking to a group at what Schmitt predictably calls the "conservative Heritage Foundation" (perhaps Heritage should just change its name so the Times won't have to keep adding that ideological description). Schmitt inexplicably elides some words from Cheney's speech that show him quoting President Bush. The Times version of Cheney's speech: "'Some claim we should not have acted because the threat from Saddam Hussein was not imminent,' Mr. Cheney said. 'Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike?'"

Here is what Cheney actually said, according to the Heritage transcript: "Some claim we should not have acted because the threat from Saddam Hussein was not imminent. Yet, as the president has said, 'Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intention, politely putting us on notice before they strike?'" This is hardly an obscure quote from Bush; it's from his last State of the Union address.

Schmitt concludes with the bad news from Iraq: "Just as notable on Friday was what Mr. Cheney did not say. There was no mention of the 94 Americans killed in Iraq since Mr. Bush declared the end of major combat on May 1. Nor did he discuss the uphill efforts to persuade allies to contribute troops and funds for the occupation, or the growing tensions with the Iraqi Governing Council over security. Democrats said on Friday that Mr. Cheney had used disingenuous arguments and false choices out of growing desperation to prop up his speech." The article concludes with a quote from anti-war Democratic Sen. Jack Reed.

For the rest of Eric Schmitt's on Cheney's Heritage speech, click here.

George W. Bush | Dick Cheney | Gaffes | Heritage Foundation | Iraq War | Labeling Bias