- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Jump, Pinch, jump

Some old alliances are still intact, according to Mickey Kaus of Slate yesterday.

“If you’re Hillary Clinton, and you fear people might interpret a Lieberman loss in Connecticut Senate primary as trouble for other pro-war Dems, what do you do?” Mr. Kaus asked. “Get the credulous New York Times to print your damage-controlling spin on the first page.”

The resulting Times headline? “Clinton Dodges Political Peril for War Vote.”

Mr. Kaus asks: “Oh yeah? Says who? Anne Kornblut (who owed Hillary one after erroneously reporting the former first lady actually said something interesting) claims that ‘skillful repositioning and adaptation to changing circumstances have enabled her to avoid political damage.’ Kornblut outlines Hillary’s attemptsto make up for her war vote (by ‘repositioning’ and criticizing the Bush administration) but she offers zero evidence that this in fact has enabled Hillary to avoid political damage — at least on the national stage on which Hillary aspires to play. Among the anti-war Democrats I know, Hillary has suffered hugepolitical damage. Still, it’s impressive that her ‘advisers’ can still make the New York Times jump.”

Mrs. Clinton declined to speculate, however, on the political fate of Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat.

“Democratic voters in the Connecticut primary are in charge,” she told reporters in Harlem yesterday.

Jump, Hillary, jump

Former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani led Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, 48 percent to 42 percent in a hypothetical 2008 presidential matchup, according to a new survey of registered New York voters. Mr. Giuliani also beat Al Gore, 48 percent to 44 percent, the poll found.

But wait, there’s more. In another possible scenario, Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, was favored by 46 percent of the respondents, compared with 42 percent for Mrs. Clinton. Mr. McCain also topped Mr. Gore, 47 percent to 44 percent.

“Two formidable Republicans have the early edge over two heavyweight Democrats in what has long been seen as one of the ‘bluest’ states in the nation,” said Steven Greenberg of Siena College , which conducted the survey of 623 voters July 31-Aug. 3, with a margin of error offour percentage points.

“The fact that Gore does better than Hillary against either Rudy or McCain will certainly put the pressure on New York’s junior senator to try to run up a big victory in her re-election battle this fall,” Mr. Greenberg added.

Reuters smoked out

“Where there’s smoke, there’s a firing,” quipped James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal Online yesterday. He means Reuters’ smoke, of course.

Hounded by sharp-eyed bloggers, the wire service recalled two suspect photographs altered with computer software by Lebanon freelancer Adnan Hajj — one enhancing the smoke of an Israeli air strike on Beirut, the other adding two extra flares to a payload dropped by an Israeli aircraft. Reuters dispensed with Mr. Hajj’s services all together, but not before canning 920 of his photos. Mea culpas followed.

“Too many news organizations are too willing to turn themselves into propaganda outlets. One hopes the Reuters photo scandal will prompt a wider rethinking of the use of freelancers in places like Lebanon,” Mr. Taranto concluded.

And, yes, the situation has already been dubbed “Reutersgate” by pundits and talk-radio hosts.

“Reuters has been caught red-handed peddling to the world’s media a fake,” wrote Thomas Lifson of the American Thinker. “Karl Marx was right about one thing: history repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce. Just ask Dan Rather.”

Meanwhile, two other photos of a distraught Lebanese woman standing before different bombed properties were also coming under scrutiny by the blogger brigades. The photos were featured by the Associated Press and Reuters in July and August; the woman looks remarkably similar in both.

“Either this woman is the unluckiest multiple homeowner in Beirut, or something is not right,” noted one blog titled “Drinking from Home.”

A Talent contest

Sen. John Thune, who peeved plenty in the Republican Party by suggesting that candidates distance themselves from President Bush on Iraq, has decided not to seek the chairmanship of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

“I’m going to take a pass,” the South Dakota Republican told the Rapid City Journal yesterday. “I still have a daughter at home, and in terms of the stuff I have to focus on for South Dakota, I just don’t think I have the bandwidth to do it all.”

Many think the campaign advice Mr. Thune doled out in July backfired.

“If I were running in the state this year, you obviously don’t embrace the president and his agenda,” Mr. Thune said during a National Press Club speech, though he later said the press took his remarks out of context.

Still, Mr. Thune’s decision to bow out of the committee job is “a blow to the party,” according to Mark Ambinder of Hotline yesterday, who believes another candidate is in wings.

“If Sen. Jim Talent, Missouri Republican, survives his race, he may be a shoo-in. That is, if he wants the job,” Mr. Ambinder noted.

Liberal fairy tale

Peter Galbraith’s new book, “The End of Iraq: How American Incompetence Created A War Without End,” has excited liberals with a story that suggests President Bush was clueless about the Islamic world. Some fact-checking shows otherwise.

Mr. Galbraith, son of liberal economist John Kenneth Galbraith, was appointed ambassador to Croatia by President Clinton. His book describes a 2003 discussion between three Iraqi exile leaders and Mr. Bush, examining the rivalry between Sunnis and Shi’ites. Mr. Galbraith claims Mr. Bush reacted by saying, “I thought the Iraqis were Muslims.”

Once this was reported by Christian Avard at RawStory.com on Friday, 200 liberal bloggers were crowing over this supposedly newfound evidence against Mr. Bush. In reality, the tale was first told by George Packer in the New York Times on March 2, 2003.

Yet in previous speeches, the president showed considerable Iraq savvy. In a Sept. 12, 2002, speech to the U.N. Security Council, Mr. Bush said: “If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will cease persecution of its civilian population, including Shi’a, Sunnis, Kurds, Turkomans and others … as required by Security Council resolutions.”

On Oct. 7, 2002, Mr. Bush told a Cincinnati audience: “Our demands are directed only at the regime that enslaves them and threatens us. When these demands are met, the first and greatest benefit will come to Iraqi men, women and children. The oppression of Kurds, Assyrians, Turkomans, Shi’a, Sunnis and others will be lifted.”

Blogger “Dave E.” of Minneapolis posted those references at his blog (https://fishfearme.blogs.com) Saturday. But no retraction yet by Mr. Galbraith.

Contact Jennifer Harper at jharper@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-3085

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