Monday, April 2, 2007


Barack Obama, a month ago: Democratic Party savior. Cool, smart, black, great personal story. Barack Obama, this week: All flash, no substance. Fast and loose with facts, Hillary will pummel him,” the Las Vegas Sun said yesterday.

“After a Las Vegas health care forum last week, Obama was deemed a disappointment by a national magazine writer, and the theme multiplied: Los Angeles Times, the Politico, the Associated Press, CNN. Time magazine’s Joe Klein made it official: ‘Even over here in the Middle East, you can feel the zeitgeist gently shifting — Obama ebbing, for the moment, at least in media-land.’ ”

Liberal “new media” are shoving back at Obama detractors with “an alternative story to the one developing among the mainstream media,” the Sun wrote. “Specifically, the counternarrative says: The Beltway types are out to get Obama. That can be deeply beneficial to many candidacies, especially his, given that a theme of the campaign is that Obama is an outsider offering a new kind of politics.”

But it’s just normal campaign coverage, according to Todd Gitlin of the Columbia School of Journalism.

“It’s all too tedious. First we fall in love, and then we throw them overboard,” Mr. Gitlin said.

In Clinton’s corner

The first woman to run on a presidential ticket has promised her friend, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, that she will help her fight Republican “dirty tricks” in the New York Democrat’s race for the White House.

“The only thing that can stop Hillary becoming the next president would be smears and dirty tricks,” said Geraldine Ferraro, the Democrats’ losing 1984 vice-presidential candidate, according to the Sunday Telegraph. “I’ve told her I’ll go anywhere and speak any time to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

She outlined her plans for a display of female solidarity with the Democratic presidential front-runner last week in an interview in her office overlooking ground zero, where the World Trade Center once stood in Manhattan.

Mrs. Ferraro, 71, is the managing director of a large corporate public relations and consultancy firm.

Rangel wrangles

Rep. Charles B. Rangel, New York Democrat and House Ways and Means chairman, is known for his blunt words, and yesterday’s appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” was no different, reports Eric Pfeiffer of The Washington Times.

When asked why Democrats included billions in pork-barrel spending into the House and Senate Iraq war supplemental bills, Mr. Rangel didn’t shy away.

“Because they needed the votes,” he said.

Then, when host Tim Russert asked why Democrats don’t simply present a bill that would cut off funds for the war, Mr. Rangel answered, “Because you don’t have the votes to do it.”

Most Democrats have defended the extra spending in the war supplementals as essential to their constituents, including millions for peanut farmers and other nonmilitary provisions. Mr. Rangel was appearing on the program to promote his new memoir, “And I’ve Haven’t Had a Bad Day Since: From the Streets of Harlem to the Halls of Congress.”

Stop the presses

What? Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. had something nice to say about the White House? It happened on Fox News yesterday.

“Senator Biden, is there something that the U.S., Britain and the rest of the Western world can do to get tougher with Iran?” asked “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace.

“We can all get tougher with them diplomatically and ratchet this up,” the Delaware Democrat replied. “By the way, I would argue that this is a product of the increasing success of the Bush administration’s new strategy on Iran, and I mean that sincerely. They have made Iran the world’s problem. They have gotten the world together and continue to put pressure on Iran, and they have taken the initiative away from the Iranians. And I think this is deliberately planned for the Iranians to try to regain the initiative and appeal to the Arab street, saying, ‘Look, we can take on, we can take on the Americans.’ ”

Reality check

U.S. Ambassador to Australia Robert D. McCallum Jr. yesterday offered an overview of U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in the Age, an Australian newspaper.

“Guantanamo is no resort, but it meets or exceeds standards found in modern prison facilities. Numerous international delegations and foreign government officials from more than 30 countries have visited the facility,” Mr. McCallum said.

“All detainees at Guantanamo are provided with three meals a day that meet cultural dietary requirements. The facility provides sheltered living areas with beds, mattresses, sheets and flush toilets. Detainees receive adequate clothing, including shoes and uniforms, and the normal range of hygiene items, such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap and shampoo.”

“Detainees have broad opportunities to practice their Muslim faith, including the requisite calls to prayer, prayer beads, rugs and copies of the Koran. The facility provides outstanding medical care to every detainee, the same quality U.S. service members receive. In 2005, the U.S. completed a new camp hospital to treat detainees. There have been more than 300 surgeries and 5,000 dental procedures. Detainees have received nearly 3,000 voluntary vaccinations, all detainees are offered at least two hours per day in outside recreation areas.”

Who, what, Ware

During a live press conference in Baghdad, Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina were heckled by CNN reporter Michael Ware, according to the Drudge Report. But that’s modern journalism, according to John Hinderaker of Power Line.

“Ware is an extreme manifestation of an all-too-common phenomenon — the journalist who wants to make the news, not report it. One of the many problems with a reporter who becomes an activist, agitating for a particular side of a public issue, is that he loses any hope of objective. Having publicly committed himself to the proposition that everything that happens in Iraq is a disaster, having publicly ridiculed those who pointed to optimistic developments, how can anyone trust that Ware’s future reporting is giving us anything like the straight story from Iraq?” Mr. Hinderaker asked.

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

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