Saddam's Capture: OK, But What About Those Funerals? - January 2, 2004 -

Times Watch for January 2, 2004

Saddam's Capture: OK, But What About Those Funerals?

On the December 26 Washington Week in Review, Washington Editor Richard Berke puts the best anti-Bush spin on the recent good news out of Iraq: "But haven't we learned how perilous foreign policy is for this president? I mean, right now, the way you're describing it, it's pretty rosy, and things are looking good for the president, for the country. But before Saddam was caught, not long ago, we were talking about casualties. We were talking about a situation where the president did not want to go to the funerals of a lot of the killed soldiers in Iraq, because why bring attention to the tragedy of-that was going on day after day there. So it seems like things have switched back and forth and up and down. It's been a real roller coaster, and who's to say that couldn't change again?"

The Times has hurled itself headlong in carping at Bush for not attending soldiers' funerals. But the History News Network points out it's almost unheard of for sitting presidents to attend soldiers' funerals during wartime.

" Richard Berke | George W. Bush | Saddam Hussein | Iraq War | Funerals

Krugman Warns Dems: Don't Be Mean to Dean

The title of Friday's Krugman column, "Who's Nader Now?" is a misnomer; it's not about Nader's threat to again run a third-party candidacy in 2004. Rather, in Krugland, left-wing consumer activist Ralph Nader is a metaphor for all Democrats who would dare criticize Vermont Gov. Howard Dean as unelectable.

A few days after lecturing journalists to go easy on Al Gore and to "center" Howard Dean, Krugman gives pro-Dean advice to the other Democratic candidates for president.

Krugman may be annoying in his callow, anti-Bush anger mode, but he's just plain creepy when he tries to moderate his tone and pose as expert observer. His advice has the clammy feel of an indoctrination session: "Let me suggest a couple of ground rules. First, while it's O.K. for a candidate to say he's more electable than his rival, someone who really cares about ousting Mr. Bush shouldn't pre-emptively surrender the cause by claiming that his rival has no chance".More important, a Democrat shouldn't say anything that could be construed as a statement that Mr. Bush is preferable to his rival".(Mr. Lieberman's remark about Mr. Dean's "spider hole" was completely beyond the pale.)"

Krugman doesn't bring up actions by Dean himself that strike some Democrats as disloyal, such as Dean complaining that DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe wasn't stopping other Democrats from picking on him, or the candidate's petulant threat to take his votes and go home (by warning that his supporters might defect if another Democrat was nominated).

Krugman concludes by encouraging Democrats to fight the real enemy, those scary Republicans, and plugs Dean's campaign slogan: "Most Democrats feel, with justification, that we're facing a national crisis-that the right, ruthlessly exploiting 9/11, is making a grab for total political dominance. The party's rank and file want a candidate who is running, as the Dean slogan puts it, to take our country back."

For the rest of Krugman's advice to Democratic candidates (go easy on Dean!), click here.

" George W. Bush | Campaign 2004 | Columnists | Howard Dean | Paul Krugman

Tolerance Takes the Subway; Pro-Bush Prejudice Hits the Road

A Friday feature story by art critic Roberta Smith, "The Rush-Hour Revelations Of an Underground Museum," takes a look at the real "artistic underground"-the subterranean art found on the walls of the NYC subway system. But she opens the interesting story with this snarky putdown of those narrow-minded Bush-voting denizens of the so-called Red states: "I grew up in Kansas and fell in love with the subways on the first day of my adult life in New York. After years of untold subway time-spent watching, listening, reading-I would say that large, active systems of mass transit are the main difference between the red and the blue states of the 2000 electoral map (California excepted). People who travel only by private car-most of America-can too easily stick to their own kind and cling to their prejudices and misconceptions without the threat of contradictory experiences."

As Smith unwittingly demonstrates, Times writers stuck in the liberal cocoon of elite Manhattanites can fall victim to snooty insularity as well.

For the rest of Smith on subway art, click here.

" Arts | Campaign 2000 | Roberta Smith

Putting the Onus on Israel

When outlining the Middle East mess, the Times typically puts the onus for "peace" on Israel, not the Palestinian terrorists trying to kill Israelis. Friday's piece by Craig Smith, datelined from the Palestinian-controlled West Bank, joins the Palestinians' chief negotiator Saeb Erekat in pushing Israel to make a move and lets him assert, without opposing views, that Israel is willy-nilly killing Palestinian civilians: "[Erekat] complained that Israel's expanding settlements, its barrier, its killing of Palestinian civilians and its continued efforts to assassinate senior Hamas and Islamic Jihad members makes an agreement increasingly difficult. 'The growing settlements and building the wall are two things that are burying the road map to peace,' he said. The anticipated journey plotted by the road map is already far behind schedule. Phase II should have ended in December with the creation of a provisional Palestinian state. That remains a distant prospect."

Smith seems convinced Israel can pave the way toward peace by letting up on terrorist enclaves: "On Thursday there was a glimmer of progress toward peace when Israel announced that it would lift the blockade of the West Bank town of Jenin, the home of many of the suicide bombers who have attacked Israel in the past three years."

For the rest of Smith on the Middle East mess, click here.

" Israel | Palestinians | Middle East | Craig Smith

The U.S. vs. the U.N-Guess Which Side the Times Takes?

The Times enters the year pretty much where it spent all last year, defending the United Nations against the "unilateral" United States: "These are difficult times for the United Nations. The Bush administration's taste for unilateral action and its doctrine of preventive war pose a profound challenge to the U.N.'s founding principle of collective security and threaten the organization's continued relevance. Since the day the administration took office, it has been chipping away at the multinational diplomatic system that America did so much to build in the past two generations. It has walked away from the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, waged war against the International Criminal Court and disparaged international arms control agencies and weapons inspectors."

But, as the Times again fails to mention (and as Times Watch has noted ad nauseum), the U.S. Senate also rejected the pact in 1997, during the Clinton administration, by a margin of 95-0, via the Byrd-Hagel resolution.

(David Sanger's Wednesday also omits the inconvenient fact in the course of a news analysis on Bush's election-time embrace of regulation: "Mr. Bush very publicly rejected the Kyoto protocol on global warming, and environmental regulations like the one that sharply restricted commercial activity in roadless areas of national forests.")

As for the International Criminal Court, one would think the avowedly liberal editorial page would express qualms against suborning the U.S. Constitution (a document the paper honors mostly in the breach) to the whims of an international legal body. Gary Dempsey of the Cato Institute notes: "It appears that many of the legal safeguards American citizens enjoy under the U.S. Constitution would be suspended if they were brought before the court. Endangered constitutional protections include the prohibition against double jeopardy, the right to trial by an impartial jury, and the right of the accused to confront the witnesses against him."

The Times editorial then insists: "The war in Iraq brought these conflicts to a new height. Washington's rush to invade split the Security Council in ways that have still not healed."

The "rush to invade?" When was this? As the Wall Street Journal's James Taranto noted in a March speech: "People were saying this six months ago, when President Bush took his case to the United Nations. Since then, the president has done everything asked of him: He's won congressional authorization for military action; he's persuaded the U.N. Security Council to give Saddam a 'final opportunity' to comply with his disarmament and other obligations, and he is even now pursuing yet another Security Council resolution explicitly authorizing force. A six-month diplomatic effort to win support is hardly a 'rush' to war."

For the rest of the Times first editorial of the year, click here.

" Editorial | Environment | Global Warming | International Criminal Court | Iraq War | Kyoto