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NY Times Hypes Boast: Obama Strongest Foreign-Policy Democrat 'In Recent Memory'

Michael Haltman at The Political Commentator blog plucked out this Saturday New York Times article as an example of how the Times serves as an Obama bulletin board instead of a newspaper: "Obama Seizes National Security as An Issue."  Reporter Helene Cooper "spends 1,000 words discussing Obama national security policy and how his campaign is chafing at the bit to take Mitt Romney on in this arena."

Romney's team gets a tiny rebuttal at story's end, but Cooper highlighted David Rothkopf of the Foreign Policy Group (without explaining he worked in the Clinton administration) to unleash the hounds: “Barack Obama’s position in foreign policy is substantively stronger than that of any other Democratic candidate in recent memory,” he boasted. “The general Romney refrain of ‘I can do better’ is easily defused with one word: ‘How?’ ”

Last month, Times columnist Thomas Friedman began a column by oozing: "David Rothkopf, the chief executive and editor-at-large of Foreign Policy magazine, has a smart new book out." Capitalism, of course, needs to "evolve" and "adapt" to more socialism, to "grand bargains" on health care and labor....like in Germany.

As usual, the Times is trying to promote the Democrats as much tougher on foreign policy than their reputation as peaceniks and apologizers, and trying to paper over Obama's reputation as "leading from behind" and kicking the can down the road. This was the paragraph setting up Rothkopf, listing him not as a Democrat, but as part of a gaggle of nonpartisan experts who praise Obama after he was mocked in 2008 for his naivete:

Mr. Obama’s victory that year over Senator John McCain, a Vietnam War hero, was in part a result of an electorate weary from years of combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now, with a record that includes winding down the Iraq war and killing Bin Laden, coupled with the success of the military strikes in Libya and the removal of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, political and national security experts have embraced the Obama campaign’s belief that this could be the year when national security issues actually help a Democrat.

Typically, Cooper describes the battle as between the "conservative magazine" National Review and the Obama team of "mostly Democratic-leaning" experts writing for the (no label here) Foreign Policy magazine, owned by The Washington Post:

Mr. Rothkopf’s description of the Obama counteroffense played out late last month, when Mr. Romney’s national security advisers sent an open letter to Mr. Obama via the conservative magazine National Review. The letter took the president to task over a host of issues, from Israel -- which the Romney team said Mr. Obama had not done enough to support -- to Iran, Afghanistan and Venezuela, where President Hugo Chávez, Mr. Romney’s advisers said, is growing in influence under Mr. Obama’s lax watch.

Within 24 hours, the Obama campaign struck back, this time choosing Foreign Policy magazine for its counterpunch. Beyond taking on each of the Romney letter’s accusations point by point, the Obama letter, signed by 18 mostly Democratic-leaning national security experts, demanded that Mr. Romney say what he would do instead.

The people quoted in the story around Rothkopf were all on Team Obama: press flack Ben LaBolt, defense spokesman Michelle Flournoy, and Richard Danzig, one of the signatures on the Obama campaign letter. Notice there was no actual quote from the National Review piece by Romney advisers. Cooper picked a very weak 72 words from Team Romney to end the piece:

Mr. Romney, of course, has his own national security surrogates. Richard S. Williamson, who was Mr. Bush’s special envoy to Sudan, said Mr. Obama’s national security record left plenty of room for Mr. Romney to attack.

“The world is better off because Osama bin Laden is dead. The world is better off because Muammar Qaddafi is dead,” Mr. Williamson said in an interview. “But two deaths do not a foreign policy make.”