- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 4, 2011

LABOR DAY, OFFICIAL VERSION

“On this Labor Day, we reaffirm that collective bargaining is a cornerstone of the American dream. From public employees - including teachers, firefighters, police, and others who perform public services - to workers in private industries, these men and women hold the power of our nation in their hands.

“In the last several years, we have pulled our country back from the brink, through a series of tough economic decisions. While we have come far, great challenges still face us. Many Americans are still struggling, and many are unemployed. My administration is working tirelessly each day to promote policies that get Americans back to work. We will always strive to keep our fundamental promise that, in America, anyone who works hard and acts responsibly can provide a better future for their children.” (From President Obama’s official 2011 Labor Day proclamation.)

LABOR DAY, ASIA EDITION

“Labor Day Cancelled: Labor Day, one of America’s most beloved and longest-celebrated holidays, has been officially moved to China, U.S. officials confirmed today. Labor Day celebrations are expected to kick off Monday afternoon in Beijing with a barbecue attended by over seven million people and presided over by former NBA star Yao Ming. The transfer of Labor Day to China represents the first time in American history that an entire holiday has been outsourced, experts said.” (Parody news story from comedian Andy Borowitz.)

THE ISSA MATTER

It’s been exactly three weeks since a New York Times front-page story framed Rep. Darrell E. Issa as an entrepreneurial opportunist and gadfly, prompting the California Republican to strike back, and demand a full retraction. On the front page. In the course of 10 days, Mr. Issa wrenched three factual corrections from the newspaper. The Times backed off on claims about Mr. Issa’s worth, his business profits and the value of his office property in California. But there was no real mea culpa on a story that critics deemed a hit job.

Even after 21 days of thrust and parry, fascination with this duel continues in political and media circles. And no wonder. The 2,700-word account by political reporter Eric Lichtblau on Aug. 15 stated that Mr. Issa had “overlap between his private and business lives, with at least some of the congressman’s government actions helping to make a rich man even richer and raising the potential for conflicts.”

Those were fighting words: In two letters to Times public editor Arthur Brisbane and Washington bureau chief Dean Baquet, Mr. Issa and his communications director Frederick Hill deconstructed the story, citing 13 errors that warranted a full retraction. Mr. Baquet, however, replied that the Times ultimately stood by the story and refused their request.

The match has been covered by mainstream media, insider blogs, muckrakers, think tanks and media watchdogs; none can get enough of big media vs. tough and tenacious Republican. Was the Times story “sanctioned hit piece or sloppy work by a newspaper?” So asked Fox News in a Sunday roundtable that included James Pinkerton. The American Conservative magazine contributor felt that the paper was “happy” to be part of an effort to protect President Obama from Mr. Issa’s investigations of “gangster government” at the White House.

But should New York Times officials approve a retraction of Mr. Lichtblau’s damning story?

“They have it out for Issa, and this reporter obviously wasn’t careful enough. The thrust of the story is that Issa is corrupt, and if you put that on the front page and played it with a big headline, you have the responsibility to take it back,” said National Review editor Rich Lowry.

McCOTTER’S IRONY

Drama about the Republican presidential debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on Wednesday is not over yet. With much ado, President Obama moved his prime-time job-creation speech to Thursday to avoid a conflict. And the debate, fueled by Politico and NBC, boasts star power.

In the cast: Reps. Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman Jr. and Rick Santorum. Each met “eligibility standards” that require that a candidacy be formally announced and that hopefuls win a certain percentage of support in a major public opinion poll.

But there’s no Buddy Roemer, no Gary E. Johnson. And no Rep. Thaddeus G. McCotter - who has words about “being left out” of the event.

“The great irony at work - especially with the Reagan Library debate - is going to be the fact that the two front-runners weren’t even Republicans during the Reagan administration, whereas people like myself at the age of 21 were,” Mr. McCotter observes.

THE DEMINT SHOW

On Monday, here’s where to watch the “American Principles Project Palmetto Freedom Forum” - aka “the DeMint debate.” The event for six Republican presidential hopefuls is intended to be substantial, pundit-free and moderated by Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Rep. Steve King of Iowa. It airs live from 3 to 5 p.m. EDT on CNN or CNN.com, and will be live-streamed at www.townhall. com.

POLL DU JOUR

• 65 percent of Americans say they did not take a summer vacation this year.

• 33 percent took a vacation.

• 48 percent of federal workers and 32 percent of employees in private companies did the same.

• 53 percent overall say Labor Day is “the unofficial end of summer.”

• 34 percent celebrate the “labor” side of the holiday by honoring contributions that workers and organized labor make to society.

• 39 percent rated the summer of 2011 as “good or excellent.”

• 32 percent say the summer was “fair”; 23 percent rated it as “poor.”

• 3 percent said the summer of 2011 was “the best ever.”

Source: A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,00 U.S. adults conducted Aug. 30 and 31.

Vacation reports, debates, retractions to jharper@washingtontimes. com

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