Times Watch for September 23, 2003
The Times Marks Its Own May Day
From Mondays front-page piece by David Sanger on Bushs imminent trip to the UN: Since Mr. Bush declared an end to active military operations on May 1, more than 70 American troops in Iraq have been killed by hostile fire.
From Mondays dispatch from Iraq by Alex Berenson on more U.S. fatalities: The deaths brought to 304 the number of American troops killed since the Iraq war began, including 165 since President Bush declared on May 1 that major American combat operations had ended, according to Pentagon records.
Columnist Ann Coulter, whos noticed the pattern, says sarcastically: Hey-does anyone know when Bush declared major combat operations had ended? Because I think there may have been one article in the sports section of the Times last week that didn't mention it.
Alex Berenson | George W. Bush | Casualties | Iraq War | David Sanger
Backhanded Bush Compliment: Hes Now Less Misleading
Sundays story by Richard Stevenson, A Change of Tone: Pitfalls Emerge in Iraq, has some backhanded compliments for what Stevenson calls the Bush administrations recent increase in straight talk.
Stevenson writes: By the standards of a White House that insists that nearly everything at all times is proceeding precisely according to plan, and where misjudgment is typically held to be a stranger, the last few weeks have brought a new, unvarnished tone.
Stevenson writes that the straight talk only goes so far: In any case, it has its limits. The appearance by Mr. Cheney on Meet the Press last Sunday was a detailed and unwavering defense of the administration's Iraq policies. On the domestic front, Mr. Bush remains unyielding in his assertion that his tax cuts will create a rebound in employment, despite nearly three years of steady job losses.
Stevenson passes on Democratic concerns that Bush has been misleading the public: To Democrats who have been saying since the 2000 campaign that Mr. Bush has misled the American people, any increase in straight talk from the White House now seems meaningless or self-serving. If they said with a straight face that the world was flat or the sky was orange, they would expect people to accept it, and would question the patriotism of those who didn't, said David Sirota, spokesman for the Center for American Progress, a liberal research and advocacy group. To some political strategists, the White House's more nuanced new stance on some issues reflects concern about Mr. Bush's credibility with voters, Congress and the rest of the world.
To press home the image of a struggling Bush, Stevenson quotes negative polling data and a passel of professors who accuse the administration of damage control and of seeking to climb down without admitting defeat.
For the rest of Richard Stevensons story on Bushs new openness, click here.
George W. Bush | Dick Cheney | Iraq War | Richard Stevenson
Kate Michelman, the Grande Dame of Abortion
The Times tops a mostly fawning story on abortion-rights advocate Kate Michelmans resignation as president of Naral Pro-Choice America (known in happier times for the abortion-rights movement as the National Abortion Rights Action League) with the headline: Head of Group Backing Right To Abortion Is to Resign.
An alternate headline, Head of Abortion-Rights Group to Resign would have been shorter and snappier, two big pluses in a headline. Instead, the Times goes the long way around in its Monday story, using up four lines in the hard copy of the Times. Is the Times trying to soft-pedal NARALs pro-abortion activism by delinking it from the charged term abortion?
A similar tactic crops up in the text itself, by reporter Elizabeth Becker: Kate Michelman said today that she would step down as president of Naral Pro-Choice America, ending 18 years at the helm of the country's most vocal group advocating abortion as a legal right for women. Again, why not just say advocating abortion rights?
Becker then issues this blush-worthy description: Ms. Michelman, 61, became one of the grandes dames of the reproductive rights debate by interpreting her mandate broadly. She campaigned for state and national politicians who supported abortion rights, testified at Congressional hearings, started national advertising campaigns, worked to expand access to clinics providing abortions, and protested and marched in the streets.Her activism also has roots in her teenage years in Defiance, Ohio, where she became involved in civil rights protests to help immigrants.
For the rest of Elizabeth Beckers story on grande dame Kate Michelman, click here.
Abortion | Headlines | Kate Michelman | NARAL
Exoneration Sweeping the Nation?
Tuesdays story by Pam Belluck reports on the push by Massachusetts for the death penalty, noting the state is bucking a trend: As more than 100 people sentenced to death have been exonerated across the nation, other states have abridged or considered abridging the use of the death penalty.
Belluck makes exoneration sound like a movement sweeping the nation. But what shes actually referring to is somewhat less dramatic: A list compiled by anti-death penalty advocates noting the number of people released from death row for all reasons since 1973.
The loaded term exonerated also fails to show the difference (as discussed by Ramesh Ponnuru on National Review Online) between people on death row found factually innocent (as in being innocent of the crime of which theyre accused) and those found legally innocent (those who get off death row on technicalities).
For the rest of Pam Bellucks story on the death penalty debate in Massachusetts, click here.
Pam Belluck | Crime | Death Penalty | Massachusetts
More Government = More Efficient
Reporter Jennifer Lee offers a suggestion on making health care simpler and less expensive: Get the federal government a lot more involved.
On Tuesday, Lee profiles former Senator Carol Moseley Brauns formal declaration as a candidate for president. Near the end of a generally fair (if overlong, considering Brauns low standing in the polls) profile of Brauns run for president, Lee lauds the efficiencies that far more federal involvement could bring to the health care system. Using her candidacy as a national platform, Lee writes, Ms. Braun has chosen a single-payer health care system as her signature issue. Under such a system, one centralized player, usually a government agency, reimburses medical providers. The United States now has a relatively complex multipayer system with hundreds of insurance companies and a Byzantine choice of plans. Nonprofit advocacy groups have long argued that the efficiencies gained in having one centralized payer would help provide comprehensive health coverage for everyone.
Next on the Times agenda: Fixing the complex problem of privately owned supermarkets, where consumers suffer under the burden of hundreds of outlets and a Byzantine choice of things to eat.
For the rest of Lees story on Braun for president, click here.
Campaign 2004 | Carol Moseley Braun | Health Care | Jennifer Lee | Socialized Medicine