October 15, 2004
The "Radical Right" vs. Michael Moore
"Also on the ReganBooks list are both 'Stupid White Men' by Michael Moore, the arch-nemesis of the radical right, and 'Michael Moore Is a Big Fat Stupid White Man,' by David T. Hardy and Jason Clarke, a less-than-flattering account of Mr. Moore." - From Edward Wyatt's October 13 profile of ReganBooks, an imprint of the Rupert Murdoch-owned Harper Collins. The left-wing filmmaker Moore was not labeled.
"It is a characterization of Mr. Bush's foreign policy style often heard around the world: bullying, unreceptive, brazen. The result, critics of this administration contend, has been a disastrous loss of international support, damage to American credibility, the sullying of America's image and a devastating war that has already taken more than 1,000 American lives. But the complaint often heard around the world is that from the outset the Bush administration's dismissive attitude set a pattern of take-it-or-leave-it policies that needlessly alienated friends. The Iraq war accelerated that process. Then, the acknowledgment that there were no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction and no proven links between Mr. Hussein and Al Qaeda cemented the view in Paris, Berlin and elsewhere that Mr. Bush governed from ideology first, facts second." - From an October 12 story by Roger Cohen, David Sanger and Steven Weisman.
Bill Clinton, Abortion Moderate
"When it came to answering questions on potentially divisive subjects like homosexuality and abortion, Mr. Bush skirted the rock-hard positions favored by his base to plant his flag deep in the mushy middle ground once held by President Bill Clinton." - James Bennet, October 14. Clinton twice vetoed a ban on partial-birth abortion.
Bush's "Far-Right" Domestic Agenda
"By exploiting the emotions around 9/11, Mr. Bush took a far-right agenda on taxes, the environment and social issues - for which he had no electoral mandate - and drove it into a 9/12 world. In doing so, Mr. Bush made himself the most divisive and polarizing president in modern history." - Columnist Thomas Friedman, October 14.
Polls Are Meaningful, Except When They're Not
"President Bush and Senator John Kerry meet in their final presidential debate on Wednesday night after two encounters that polls suggest weakened Mr. Bush and fortified Mr. Kerry, leaving some Republicans concerned that the final 20 days of the contest would be more competitive than they had expected. Republicans who had been confident of victory before the debates said they were uneasy as Mr. Bush returns to a format - 90 minutes of questions from one moderator - that has seemed to play to the strength of Mr. Kerry, a 20-year senator and former prosecutor. Mr. Kerry burnished his credentials in the first two debates, averting an early collapse that Republicans had sought, and Mr. Bush has lost some or all of the lead he had before their first debate in Florida on Sept. 30, a series of recent polls suggests. Republicans are also concerned that the debate, at 9 p.m. Eastern time in Tempe, Ariz., is the only one devoted to domestic policy, and polls show Mr. Kerry has an edge on many of those issues." - Political reporter Adam Nagourney, October 13.
"First of all, most polls suggest that Bush has a lead, but not a large one and not a solid one. And there's so much sort of variation in polls these days, that I think no one is really quite sure what's going on out there." - Nagourney, on a September 30 NYTimes.com interactive feature before the first presidential debate when most polls showed Bush with a lead.
Ugly Americans in Afghanistan
"A century or so ago, American missionaries fanned out across the globe to spread not just their religion but Western ways to the 'uncivilized' masses. Then came the Peace Corps, which sent idealistic young Americans to build schools and dig wells and show the world how good the United States could be. These days, though, belligerent men with sunglasses and guns are America's most visible civilian representatives in some parts of the world.Contractors do not live by the same constraints as active-duty soldiers. At best, they reinforce the stereotype of Americans as brawny and boorish. At worst, their blurring of the military-civilian line serves as a reminder that military discipline not only keeps up morale, but encourages moral behavior." - Craig Smith reporting from Kabul, October 13.
Frank Rich's Anti-Fox Rant
"But those who live by Fox News can die by Fox News. If you limit your diet to Fox and its talk-radio and blogging satellites, you may think that the only pressing non-Laci Peterson, non-Kobe, non-hurricane stories are 'Rathergate' and the antics of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Your diet of bad news from Iraq is restricted, and Abu Ghraib becomes an over-the-top frat hazing. You are certain that John Kerry can't score in the debates because everyone knows he's an overtanned, overmanicured metrosexual. You reside in such an isolated echo chamber that you aren't aware that even the third-rated network news broadcast, that anchored by the boogeyman Dan Rather, draws 50 percent more viewers on a bad night than 'The O'Reilly Factor' does on a great one (the Bush interview)." - Arts columnist Frank Rich, October 10.
Iraq as Vietnam, Part XXIII
"Mr. Bush's decision to hang tough has echoes of the strategy used by another president from Texas. In the 1968 campaign, Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey began edging back from the Johnson Administration's plan to admit no fault with its policy in Vietnam. He got an angry call from his boss, who threatened to 'dry up every Democratic dollar from Maine to California.'" - David Sanger on Iraq, from the October 10 Week in Review.
The NYT's Pro-Kerry "Truth" Squad
"In his new speech, Mr. Bush read a virtual indictment of what he described as Mr. Kerry's record on taxes: 'He voted in the United States Senate to increase taxes 98 times.' 'He voted for higher taxes on Social Security benefits.' And, not least: 'My opponent was against all of our middle-class tax relief.' (In truth, Mr. Kerry essentially voted for one large tax increase, the Clinton tax bill of 1993, which mostly imposed additional income taxes on the wealthy but did include an increase in taxes on Social Security benefits for middle-income retirees. Mr. Kerry also supports middle-class tax breaks, but voted against them in 2001 as part of an overall tax bill that he opposed.)" - Elisabeth Bumiller, October 11.
An Odd Museum Piece
"The United States Army has a lot on its plate these days. In Iraq, costs and casualties are mounting; back home, recruitment is dwindling. So the oldest branch of the armed forces might be forgiven for putting off new ventures. Nevertheless, it is about to announce a bold new experiment in multimedia entertainment - and brand-name architecture." - The off-topic opening paragraph of an article on a new Army museum, by Julie Iovine, October 10.