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Preview: RealClearPolitics - Articles - Noel Sheppard

RealClearPolitics - Articles - Noel Sheppard

Last Build Date: Wed, 13 Dec 2006 21:45:45 -0600

Copyright: Copyright 2007

Rahm Emanuel's Unholy Foley Folly

Wed, 13 Dec 2006 21:45:45 -0600

Well, if the situation was reversed, and the misbehaving Congressman was a Republican, the answer appears to be "No," and such information would go largely ignored by the media. O C'mon, O C'mon, Emanuel As amazing as it might seem, the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct released its report concerning the Mark Foley scandal on Friday. The panel determined that the offensive e-mail messages between Foley and male pages were leaked to the media by the communications director for the House Democratic Caucus. Also, high-ranking Democrat Rahm Emanuel of Illinois might have been aware of these electronic transmissions even though he told ABC News on October 8 that he hadn't heard anything about them until the story broke. As disclosed by Newsweek Friday at the blog of reporter Holly Bailey: But on page 46 of the new House Ethics Committee report on the scandal is testimony that at least one senior member of Emanuel's staff did know about them. The report reveals that the so-called "overly friendly" e-mails between Foley and a former House page from Louisiana had been given to a top Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee staffer in the fall of 2005--more than a year before Foley resigned. At that time, Emanuel was the DCCC chairman. Bailey's blog posting extraordinarily continued: Matt Miller, who was communications director for the House Democratic Caucus in 2005, testified before the ethics committee that he gave the e-mails to the DCCC. Miller was also the source who gave the e-mails to reporters from The Miami Herald and the St. Petersburg Times, and later, to a reporter for Harper's magazine. Seem newsworthy to you? Well, there was more: As a part of a "gut check," Miller testified, he shared the e-mails with the "communications director at the DCCC." While the DCCC staffer is not named in the report, Bill Burton was (and is now) the DCCC communications director and a top aide to Emanuel. (Burton did not respond to phone calls and e-mails from NEWSWEEK. DCCC spokesperson Sarah Feinberg confirmed that Miller provided Burton with copies of the e-mails.) Miller, who got the e-mails through a chain of social and political acquaintances, wanted the press to pick up the story at the time, in 2005. He thought Burton might be able to help. "I gave them to him not with any direct expectation but with the understanding that [Burton] is someone who talks to reporters all day," Miller testified, according to the report. "If there's something I'm missing, maybe - you know, that he could give them to a reporter." O C'mon, Thou Feed Too Many Lies So, the communications director for the House Democrat Caucus gave these e-mail messages to the Miami Herald, the St. Petersburg Times, Harper's magazine, and a top aide of Rahm Emanuel's. Yet, this wasn't close to what Emanuel told George Stephanopoulos on the October 8 This Week. In fact, try to count how many times Emanuel claimed that he and his staff had no idea about these e-mail messages until Brian Ross of ABC broke the story. Also, pay attention to Emanuel saying the leak came from a Republican source: GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (ABC NEWS) (Off-camera): All week long there have been suggestions by - on talk radio and by Republicans and their allies that this was perhaps a Democratic dirty trick. And I just want to ask you plainly, did you or your staff know anything... REP RAHM EMANUEL (CHAIR DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSIONAL CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE): No. STEPHANOPOULOS (Off-camera): About these e-mails or instant messages before they came out? EMANUEL: George, never saw them. And I'm going to say one thing, let's go through the facts right here. REP ADAM PUTNAM (CHAIRMAN OF HOUSE REPUBLICAN POLICY COMMITTEE): But were you aware of them? You said you didn't see them. EMANUEL: Never saw them. Let me just go right through the facts, one Brian Ross, who broke this story on your network said it came from a Republican source. Very unusual to do that. Fact two, the Hill paper said it came from a Republican source. All the Republicans and s[...]

Misreading the Election Tea Leaves

Tue, 14 Nov 2006 16:57:20 -0600

But we may be seeing the downfall of movement conservatism--the potent alliance of wealthy individuals, corporate interests and the religious right that took shape in the 1960s and 1970s. This alliance may once have had something to do with ideas, but it has become mainly a corrupt political machine, and America will be a better place if that machine breaks down. [emphasis added] As people familiar with Krugman's work know, facts are not his strong point, or even necessary if fabrications better support the position he's striving to advance. Despite his groundless assertions, or Klein's, the results last Tuesday were actually quite in keeping with what typically happens in the midterm elections, especially during a president's second term. Just the Facts, Ma'am To get an idea of just how bad Congressional elections can be after a president gets re-elected, one needn't look further than 1938, for in the midst of multi-decade Democrat control, Franklin Delano Roosevelt had his worst showing at the polls during the sixth year of his presidency. In fairness, his Party easily retained Congress. However, in the 1938 elections, the Democrats lost seven seats in the Senate, and an astounding 81 seats in the House. Bear in mind that this followed Roosevelt's historic victory in 1936 when he became one of the few presidents to be re-elected while gaining seats in both chambers. This is significant inasmuch as George W. Bush accomplished this same feat in 2004, leading some to suggest that this was a realigning election giving the Republicans huge momentum for future domination at the polls - much as the Democrats enjoyed after 1932. It is therefore noteworthy that both the Democrats and the Republicans did quite poorly in the elections immediately following the most recent instances of this rare political phenomenon. Another interesting year to look at is 1946, when the Republicans picked up an amazing 20 seats in the Senate and 55 in the House, to give the G.O.P. their first control of Congress since 1932. Harry S Truman's first midterms were a disaster for his party, but their significance was how short-lived. The Democrats picked up nine seats in the Senate and 75 in the House two years later to wrest Congressional control right back. Harry Truman famously campaigned for re-election to fight a "do-nothing Congress" and it worked. The 1938 and 1946 midterms therefore effectively demonstrated that it is not at all uncommon after a realigning election for there to be several cycles when the momentum party does poorly at the polls. And, as is particulary germane given what transpired on Tuesday, such failures don't necessarily indicate a shift in the nation's ethos. Moving forward, in Truman's second midterm elections in 1950, the Democrats lost five seats in the Senate and 28 in the House. Dwight Eisenhower's Republicans in his second midterm in 1958 lost eight seats in the Senate and 48 in the House. Though certainly Watergate-related, Richard Nixon's Republicans in 1974 lost four seats in the Senate, and 48 in the House in what would have been his second midterm if he hadn't resigned. Ronald Reagan's Republicans in 1986 lost five seats in the House and an astounding eight in the Senate during his second midterm. And, Bill Clinton's Democrats in 1998 gained five seats in the House, while losing three in the Senate during his. As such, in the modern era, these second term elections have typically been quite hard on the Party in the White House. With that in mind, for last Tuesday's results to become anything more significant than the normal sixth-year jinx, the Democrats are probably going to have to keep the Congress in 2008, and at the same time take over 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Anything short of that, and 2006 will probably be seen by history as just a bump in the road for a conservative revolution that began in 1980 when Ronald Reagan was first elected. Facts are a Stupid Thing Klein and Krugman had no trouble forecasting the longer term significance of a president's second midter[...]

Someone's Dying for Your Vote

Mon, 30 Oct 2006 16:30:47 -0600

Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.--Thomas Paine As amazing as it might seem, due to Republican failures to curtail spending, solve illegal immigration, cure Social Security, and police corruption, many Party members are forgetting the more than a million Americans that have died in battle for the precious right to vote. Should we forsake that right now because this Congress has failed to address such issues? What does that say to the 3,090 soldiers that have died to give Iraqis and Afghanis such a right, or to the 170,000 Americans still at risk to protect it? Maybe more importantly, would any of the fallen abstain from voting as result of these other issues if they were still alive today? If the people fail to vote, a government will be developed which is not their government.... The whole system of American Government rests on the ballot box. Unless citizens perform their duties there, such a system of government is doomed to failure.--Calvin Coolidge As the elections draw near, I find myself getting angrier and angrier. On a daily basis, I receive e-mail messages from conservative readers explaining why they're not going to vote on November 7. Fellow conservative bloggers have elucidated their views on this subject supporting the abstainers, and explaining why a Democrat victory in eight days isn't such a bad thing. Every morning as I drive to work, I hear callers tell Rush Limbaugh why they're not going to vote; every afternoon I hear the same on Sean Hannity's program. The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all. --John F. Kennedy So I grow angrier, because I'm saddened for the state of the Republican Party, and wonder how we have so fallen from the exhilaration we felt on November 2, 2004, when President Bush was reelected, and we miraculously added to our majorities in both chambers of Congress. We were going to accomplish so much in the next two years. In particular, finally reform Social Security, and extend the president's tax cuts. Alas, as 2005 rolled on, such lofty goals were replaced by scandals surrounding former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, the Vice President's former Chief of Staff I. Lewis Libby, and a terrible hurricane in the Gulf Coast. The future of this republic is in the hands of the American voter.--Dwight D. Eisenhower 2006 wasn't any better, as a proposed sale of American ports to an Arabic company hit the front pages, along with illegal immigrant protests, and a disgraceful scandal involving Congressional pages just weeks before Election Day. Nice two years, folks. Nice job taking advantage of the mandate we gave you on November 2, 2004. Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual--or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.--Samuel Adams Like many of my fellow countrymen, I'm ashamed of the performance of this Congress, and my Party. However, that shame does not extend to ignoring the most sacred right bestowed upon us by our Founding Fathers. Forsaking that right as a form of protest is un-American and unthinkable for a true conservative. The ballot is stronger than the bullet.--Abraham Lincoln Folks that are unhappy with what the Republicans have done in the past 22 months should consider voting for the Democrat in their state or district. Or the Independent. Or the Libertarian. Or write in their grandmother Mabel. But don't stay home, for that dishonors all that have died to give you this precious right. Such are certainly the sentiments of great Americans past and present: If the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted; laws will be made not for the public good so much as for the selfish or local purposes.--Daniel Webster [...]

Bill Clinton, Bin Laden, and Hysterical Revisions

Mon, 25 Sep 2006 15:30:31 -0600

On the other hand, maybe asking the former president anything of consequence these days will elicit such volatility, as the fireworks started as soon as Wallace brought up historically factual statements made in a new book, The Looming Tower. In it, author Lawrence Wright addressed how Osama bin Laden had indicated that when American troops pulled out of Somalia in 1993, he and his al Qaeda buddies saw this as an indication of American weakness. Although this certainly couldn't have been the first time he had heard this, it didn't sit very well with Mr. Clinton, who lashed out in a fury akin to a president that had just been accused of having sexual relations with an intern: I think it's very interesting that all the conservative Republicans who now say that I didn't do enough, claimed that I was obsessed with Bin Laden. All of President Bush's neocons claimed that I was too obsessed with finding Bin Laden when they didn't have a single meeting about Bin Laden for the nine months after I left office. All the right wingers who now say that I didn't do enough said that I did too much. Republicans claimed that Clinton was obsessed with bin Laden? He did too much to try to capture the infamous terrorist leader? Do the facts support such assertions, or is this the typical Clinton modus operandi: when questioned about your own mistakes, bring up Republicans, neocons, and conservatives - the liberal equivalent of lions and tigers and bears...oh my - and how it's all some kind of a conspiracy the complexities of which only Oliver Stone fully grasps. Historically this line of attack has worked quite well with an adoring interviewer that buys such drivel hook, line, and sinker. However, what Mr. Clinton and his ilk seem to forget regularly is a recent invention known as the Internet. It is indeed odd the former president is unaware of this, inasmuch as his vice president created it. Regardless, this tool - with the assistance of search engines and services such as LexisNexis - allows folks to go back in the past to accurately identify the truth. Sadly, as has often been the case with the rantings of the Clintons, their grasp of the past is as hazy as their understanding of what the word "is" means. At least that is the charitable interpretation. Nothing but GOP support for getting bin Laden With that in mind, a thorough LexisNexis search identified absolutely no instances of high-ranking Republicans ever suggesting that Mr. Clinton was obsessed with bin Laden, or did too much to apprehend him prior to the bombing of the USS Cole in October 2000. Quite the contrary, Republicans were typically highly supportive of Clinton's efforts in this regard. As a little background, prior to the August 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Africa, there is hardly any mention of bin Laden by President Clinton in American news transcripts. For the most part, the first real discussion of the terrorist leader by the former president - or by any U.S. politicians or pundits for that matter - began after these bombings, and escalated after the American retaliation in Afghanistan a few weeks later. At the time, the former president was knee-deep in the Monica Lewinsky scandal, so much so that the press was abuzz with the possibility that Clinton had performed these attacks to distract the American people from his extracurricular activities much as in the movie Wag the Dog. Were there high-ranking Republicans that piled on this assertion? Hardly. As the Associated Press reported on the day of the attacks, Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-Georgia) said the following on August 20, 1998: Well, I think the United States did exactly the right thing. We cannot allow a terrorist group to attack American embassies and do nothing. And I think we have to recognize that we are now committed to engaging this organization and breaking it apart and doing whatever we have to to suppress it, because we cannot afford to have people who think that they can kill Americans w[...]

Is the Daily Kos About to Implode?

Tue, 11 Jul 2006 17:05:40 -0600

As reported here on June 30, revelations about Kos's friend and former business partner Jerome Armstrong - from stock fraud allegations to accepting consulting fees from not so liberal candidates - have cast a cloud over the blog and its leader. This pall has also undermined the stellar relationship Kos has had with the traditional media up to this point. Yet, maybe more important, these revelations - along with the way Markos and his Kossacks reacted to them - have caused some prominent DKos bloggers to question the behavior of Zuniga and his devotees. Such a civil war within the liberal blogosphere certainly has the potential to further discredit it, while likely making the mainstream media as well as the candidates they revere less apt to associate with this developing train wreck. The most prominent disgruntlement came in a "diary" written and posted Saturday by Maryscott O'Connor, who describes herself as a "contented and fulfilled...denizen of the Daily Kos community," and is now the proprietor of My Left Wing, "a spin-off of Daily Kos." O'Connor, who was actually the subject of a 2,181-word front-page Washington Post article about the liberal blogosphere published in April, began her July 8 diary entitled "Something is Rotten in Blogmark": Sometimes I am embarrassed to call myself a member of DKos. This is one of those times. There is a sort of groupthink, Lord of the Flies kind of behaviour at DKos over certain issues that absolutely makes me nauseated. O'Connor was referring to a diary by another Kossack, Richard Silverstein, published at DKos on June 26. It openly addressed some of the issues raised by The New Republic's Jason Zengerle as well as the New York Times' David Brooks. In short, Silverstein was concerned about the propriety of a blogger accepting funds from a political candidate. His honesty was not well received by the Kossacks, and it appears their response has been eating at O'Connor ever since: Increasingly, I have begun to feel intimidated or wary about writing my thoughts and doubts about these issues, lest I be set upon by a pack of Defenders of the Kos. O'Connor then shared her concerns about recent hypocrisies demonstrated by Kos and his devotees: I was bowled over when Markos mentioned Paul Hackett in his keynote speech at YKos as an example of the power of the "netroots"--not least because when Rahm Emanuel et al threw Hackett under the bus, Markos almost immediately declared that while he was loath to say it, Brown stood a far better chance at winning than did Hackett--mostly because Brown had the support of the powers that be in the Democratic Party. Hypocrisy in an organization is an awful thing for a devoted team member to recognize, but even harder to admit. To her credit, O'Connor expanded on another obvious contradiction - Kos's support for the seemingly moderate former governor of Virginia, Mark Warner, implicitly due to Armstrong's consulting arrangement with the presumptive 2008 presidential candidate - while elaborating on the Hackett affair: [A]bandoning Hackett, signing on with the candidate anointed by the DLC, seemed in complete contradiction to the ideas and ideals behind Markos's book. Sounds like real world Machiavellian politics have crashed the gates, doesn't it? Yet, O'Connor is not the only Kossack having such doubts. The day before she posted her personal revelations, Richard Silverstein wrote another blog - this one conspicuously not posted at DKos - entitled "Don't Cross the 'Cult of Kos' or You'll Live to Regret It." In it, Silverstein raised a very important question: [H]ow does a political blogger who endorses candidates at his site create a transparent environment when he may also be consulting for-or have some other undisclosed relationship with-some of these same candidates? Silverstein also voiced his displeasure with how his June 26 blog on this subject was received by the Kossacks: In short, I expected[...]

The Deflating Democrats

Thu, 22 Jun 2006 14:59:26 -0600

For most of 2006, as energy prices climbed, news out of Iraq (as reported by those with an agenda) worsened, and virtually every bad thing that happened in America got blamed on President Bush or his administration. As a result, a media consensus formed that the Democrats were in a great position to win back one if not both chambers of Congress in the upcoming elections. Such a view has become so pervasive that even Republican media members and pundits are buying into it. In fact, you can't turn on talk radio or Fox News without hearing some expert discuss his or her fears over how bad things could be for the right in November. Yet, what all this conservative hand wringing ignores is that the Democrats have been able to hide in the fruit cellar much like Norman Bates' mother most of this year and allow events to favorably control the agenda without their input. However, as we get closer to November 7, these folks are actually going to have to speak to the American people. And when they do, the bubble will burst. Pssssssssssssssssss. Of late, we've begun to see evidence of the first molecules of air starting to escape. The most prominent such seepage has to be Congressman William Jefferson's disgraceful freezer act, and his removal from the all-important House Ways and Means committee. This one incident by itself deflated the Democrat Bubble by at least several pounds per square inch, for it makes it impossible for the left to claim that corruption in the nation's capital is exclusively a Republican problem. Pssssssssssssssssss. Following this up a week later was the revelation about Senate minority leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) accepting tickets to boxing matches in Las Vegas from the Nevada Athletic Commission while in the middle of crafting laws to regulate the sport. Even though three weeks have passed, it is still delicious to review the excuse for this behavior as offered up by the Associated Press on May 30. See if you can read the following without spitting coffee all over your keyboard: "He defended the gifts, saying that they would never influence his position on the bill and he was simply trying to learn how his legislation might affect an important home state industry." Pssssssssssssssssss. A few weeks later, prohibitive 2008 Democrat presidential favorite Hillary Clinton (D-NY) was booed at a liberal gathering called the Take Back America Conference held in Washington, D.C., on June 13. The attendees weren't thrilled by the senator's declaration that there shouldn't be a specific date set when troops must be withdrawn from Iraq. So much for taking back America. Pssssssssssssssssss. Moving from one presidential wannabe to another, after three weeks in movie theaters, Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" has actually sold less than $7 million worth of tickets. This suggests that despite an almost unprecedented media exposure for one politician's Hollywood exploits, Americans either aren't buying into his vision of doom and gloom, or just aren't buying into him. Go figure. Pssssssssssssssssss. Moving from one failed Democrat presidential nominee to another, a front-page New York Times article about Sen. John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) on June 21 indicated a huge rift between Lurch and his own party: "[Democrats] fear the latest evolution of Mr. Kerry's views on Iraq may now complicate their hopes of taking back a majority in Congress in 2006." What's this all about? Well, much as the aforementioned expedient political position of the moment expressed by Madame Hillary, the Democrats - always looking to straddle fences and be noncommittal - want to advocate a reduction of troops in Iraq, but without a certain fixed date for a complete withdrawal. But: "Mr. Kerry has insisted on setting a date, for American combat troops to pull out in 12 months, saying anything less is too cautious." When is the junior senator from Massachusetts going to learn from the se[...]

Media's Conveniently Changing View of Zarqawi

Tue, 13 Jun 2006 10:48:03 -0600

According to NewsBusters, CNN's senior editor for Arab affairs Octavia Nasr said the following about Zarqawi's death on "American Morning" Thursday: "Some people say it will enrage the insurgency, others say it will hurt it pretty bad. But if you think about the different groups in Iraq, you have to think that Zarqawi's death is not going to be a big deal for them." However, CNN didn't always feel that Zarqawi's death or capture would be so inconsequential. Just days after Saddam Hussein was found in his spider hole, Paula Zahn brought CNN national correspondent Mike Boettcher on to discuss a new threat in Iraq. Zahn began the December 15, 2003 segment: "The capture of Saddam Hussein may lead to renewed attention on the search for Osama bin Laden and other terrorists, and next to bin Laden, there is one man emerging as a major threat. He is believed to be the leader of a group much like al Qaeda, and the U.S. wants to catch him before he strikes again." Boettcher entered the discussion: "The reward for his capture is only a fifth of that offered for Saddam Hussein, $5 million to Saddam's $25 million, but abu-Mus'ab al- Zarqawi, say Middle East intelligence analysts, is emerging as the most dangerous terrorist conducting operations in Iraq, the surrounding region, and perhaps the world." Subsequent to this report, Zarqawi's reward was raised to $25 million, meaning that the importance of his capture increased fivefold. Mysteriously, CNN didn't see it that way, as in its view, the death of what it once described as "the most dangerous terrorist" in "perhaps the world" somehow became "no big deal." At roughly the same time as Nasr was downplaying Zarqawi's death on CNN, ABC's Diane Sawyer invited perennial Bush-basher Richard Clarke on "Good Morning America" to solicit his opinion on the subject. As reported by NewsBusters, Sawyer asked, "[Is] it any safer in Iraq and will the war end any sooner?" Clarke responded: "Well, unfortunately the answer is no. This man was a terrible man. He was a symbol of terrorism. He was the face of terrorism, the only real name we knew of an insurgent leader in Iraq. But he commanded only a few hundred people out of tens of thousands involved in the insurgency. And so, unfortunately for the loved ones of troops over in Iraq, this is not going to mean a big difference." Sawyer incredulously concluded the segment: "So for overall terrorism against the U.S., it's, again, not a major effect." Yet, on November 21, 2005, Sawyer and the Good Morning America team weren't so blasé about capturing or killing Zarqawi. Quite the contrary, Sawyer began her report that morning: "Right now intelligence officials are pouring over information trying to decide if it's possible that public enemy number one in Iraq, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, has, in fact, been killed over the weekend. ABC's chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross tells us what he learned." Ross answered: "If it's true it'd be major victory for the US in Iraq." This raises a rather obvious question: how could what would have been a "major victory" if it had occurred in November 2005 not have "a major effect" when it actually transpires less than seven months later? Regardless of the answer, it wasn't just the morning shows experiencing a convenient change of heart towards Zarqawi. A drastically similar conversion occurred on the CBS Evening News Thursday. And, in this instance, it took less than five weeks for the story to change. Anchor Bob Schieffer invited former CIA member and current CBS News analyst Michael Scheuer on to discuss Zarqawi's death. Schieffer began the interview: "Michael, I want to ask you, it's my understanding you believe this might actually increase danger for US troops." Yes, you read that right: on a day when America should have been celebrating the death of one of her greatest enemies, a top CBS anch[...]

Deriding Ms. Pelosi to Republican Victory in November

Mon, 05 Jun 2006 17:27:41 -0600

But before we get to that, one of the popular conventional wisdoms emanating from the usual suspects is Americans are just as fed up with Congress as they were in 1994, and that this will lead to a similar reshuffling of the deck that culminated in a surprising Republican landslide that November. Predictably, such comparisons conveniently ignore the differences in the political ethos between then and now. To best understand what occurred in November 1994, one first has to look at the 1992 presidential elections which, though responsible for forcing a Republican out of the White House, laid the groundwork for a conservative revolution two years later. The catalyst for both was named Ross Perot, who in 1992 set off a groundswell for a fiscally responsible government that almost 20 percent of voters immediately identified with. His Reform Party ideologies quickly gained such respectability and notoriety that they spawned a political ethos for smaller government and budgetary restraint amongst a large enough percentage of the population to be a force in upcoming elections. Enter Newt Gingrich and the "Contract With America" two years later. To be sure, the tenets expressed in this Republican call to arms resounded with many conservatives across the country. However, Reform Party members were not just right-wingers; this platform also appealed to most moderate Perotistas. As a result, the "Contract With America" not only energized Republicans displeased with two years of Clintonomics - fully adorned with tax-hikes and HillaryCare as opposed to campaign-promised tax cuts - but also many Reform Party members as well. Moving forward, does any identifiable ethos exist today within a significant percentage of voters disenchanted with America's two major parties? No. Have the Democrats introduced any set of tenets to tap into such an ethos even if it did exist? No. Finally, is our political condition today really akin to 1994 as the Democrats and the drive-by media have been claiming? Not even close. Instead, what we have is an admittedly high level of disgust for members of Congress. However, neither side as yet appears to be benefiting from it, or even attempting to capitalize. According to a recent ABC News poll on the subject, 33 percent of respondents approved of the job Republicans are doing in Congress versus 39 percent for Democrats; disapproval numbers in this poll were 64 percent and 58 percent respectively. This is no indication that Americans are any more pleased with Democrats than they are with Republicans, and somewhat controverts polling data by many organizations suggesting that voters are more likely to swing left in November than right. Quite the contrary, it suggests a strong disenchantment with both parties that might create a condition in five months wherein many Americans vote almost exclusively for the lesser of the two evils on the ballot in front of them as they tightly hold their noses. Assuming this will indeed be the case in November, with the controversial Tom DeLay and Randy Cunningham both out of the picture, Republicans actually have the stronger hand to be played in depicting their opponents as less palatable. Why? Because Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and John Conyers are potentially the three easiest targets for negative campaign attacks the Republicans have had since Michael Dukakis in 1988. For those that don't recall, the defining moment in George H.W. Bush's victorious presidential campaign was negative ads depicting Democrat candidate Dukakis as being weak on crime due to his convict furlough program and its release of Willie Horton. This same strategy appears to be the perfect answer for today's Republicans to compensate for their currently weak position with the electorate as well as the dismal polling numbers of their president. For example, take any district or state where the Republicans hav[...]

Ignoring Growth, Eyeing Gas Gauge

Sat, 06 May 2006 00:28:06 -0600

None of this should come as a surprise. It's actually a trend the Free Market Project has followed, which has shown the media downplaying strong numbers while playing up weaker reports. Despite the negative media coverage, the economic news was striking. As reported by Bloomberg: "The U.S. economy expanded in the first quarter at an annual pace of 4.8 percent, the fastest in more than two years, led by resurgent consumer spending and the biggest jump in business investment since 2000." Coming after the disappointment of hurricane-impacted low growth at the end of 2005, this should have been welcome news. Unfortunately, the media didn't see it that way. The worst offender was CBS, which chose not to report the GDP announcement at all on its April 28 "Evening News" program, even though Hannah Storm had warned on the "Early Show" that day that "soaring energy costs [are] threatening economic growth." But CBS didn't share with its viewers that in the first quarter this clearly wasn't the case. Instead, the "Evening News" did reports on how Iranians are buying gold on Tehran's version of a commodities exchange, a Spanish version of "The Star Spangled Banner," a sixth-grader with Cystic Fibrosis who helped keep a school open in Philadelphia, and Limbaugh's settlement in his Florida drug case. CBS apparently considered all of those issues more important to its viewers than economic news. Yet, this wasn't the case on January 27 when the news wasn't so good. During an interview with President George W. Bush on the "Evening News," Bob Schieffer specifically addressed the slower-than-expected fourth-quarter numbers that came out that morning: "A report came out today that shows there was a sharp slowdown at the end of last year as consumers facing high energy prices cut back on their spending. The numbers show the GDP was growing in the fourth quarter at an annual rate of just 1.1 percent." Gas Prices, Rush and Inflation, Oh My! But in the present, good economic news wasn't even as important as the legal issues of a conservative talk show host. ABC literally postponed its discussion of the strong economic news on "World News Tonight" April 28, as Elizabeth Vargas began the show: "Good evening. We'll get to news about the economy in just a moment, but we begin this evening with breaking news from south Florida." When the network moved into a GDP discussion, a large pail of cold water was thrown on the data. Reporter Betsy Stark ended the segment with a flood of negatives: "The economy overall remains healthy, but the outlook has become clouded by rising interest rates, a slowdown in housing, and of course, rising gas prices. Most economists are forecasting slower growth for the rest of the year." From there, Vargas moved the discussion to oil, and how rising energy prices could derail the current economic expansion: "As you mentioned, rising gas and oil prices perhaps the biggest risk to the economy." Correspondent David Herley then enumerated all of the various products that could see higher prices in the months ahead due to rising fuel costs, including tires, airfares, diapers, carpets and crayons. Yet none of those reports told viewers that inflation was lower in the first quarter than in the fourth quarter, even as gasoline prices increased by almost 40 cents per gallon - an 18-percent jump. Again, Bloomberg cut through the rhetoric: "The government's personal consumption expenditures index, a measure of prices tied to consumer spending, rose 2.0 percent after a 2.9 percent rise in the fourth quarter. The index excluding food and energy, a measure favored by Fed policy makers, rose at a 2.0 percent annual rate after a 2.4 percent rise the previous quarter." Another measure of inflation in this GDP report also showed a decline: "The GDP price index, a me[...]