Friday, December 10, 2004

Bumiller on the excess of the Inauguration, Shanker & Schmitt on Armor, Gross writes of autism, Lipton looks at Kerik

Elisabeth Bumiller's "At Bush Inauguration, Lunch Will Set You Back $250,000"
( is already resulting in e-mails to this site. "Why is this badly written nonsense on the front page of The New York Times?" wonders Shondra. Matt, Ben, Sally, Maria, Carl, Frank and Ty make similar comments.

If the title was the same as the online title ("It's Inauguration Time Again, and Access Still Has Its Price"), or if it lived up to either title, would it still seem a poor choice for the front page?

My personal opinion is that the topic is worthy of the front page, but the article, as written, isn't.

The only attempt at perspective comes from Fred Wertheimer who is "the president of Democracy 21, an organization that seeks to prevent the influence of big money." His comments are appreciated but where is anyone who can address this historically?

Bumiller attempts to contrast the donation made by Kenneth Lay and Enron in 2001 with what people are donating today -- that's really not enough to provide perspective. Nor is her single sentence citing how much Bill Clinton raised in 1993 and 1997. (According to the article, 1993's figure was $33 million; 1997 was $23.7 million -- for those interested. )

Perhaps a few historians could have offered information that would round out the piece and provide it (and readers) with a sense of perspective?

Bumiller may have intended this as one of her floating op-eds ("White House Letter"). The writing is up to the standard she's set for those. But it's not a front page piece.

If you're hoping to attend Bush's cornation, remember that $250,000 gets you & a guest "an exclusive lunch" with Bush and Cheney -- Cheney's needed to remind Bush to chew? -- plus twenty tickets to a "dinner" featuring "special appearances" by Laura & George and Dick & Lynne. No mention of any Log Republican events but maybe Lynne will throw them a bone and stage a reading from her infamous Sisters?

From the flash and greed needed to pull of the pagentry of crowning Miss America, er Bush, we move on to Thom Shanker & Eric Schmitt's "Armor Scarce for Big Trucks Serving In Iraq"

Think of that juxtaposition for a moment. Think about the fact that "only 10 percent of the 4,814 medium-weight transport trucks have armor, and only 15 percent of the 4,314 heavy transport vehicles."

Then think again of the all the monies being poured in so Bush can be belle of the ball. This while we're seeing "stark shortages in armor for the military transport trucks." (Bumiller does briefly note the conflict in Iraq and the soliders serving there while focusing on the $40 million Bush's inauguration committee attempts "to raise.")

Or look at the story between the two, "For Siblings of the Autistic, a Burdened Youth" ( by Jane Gross. Think about the perspective of Mark and Derek in that story or of their parents. Gross writes, "With rare exceptions, no disability claims more parental time than autism."

Quite a different set of values than the ones involved in planning a second coming out party for the not-so-fresh debutante Bush.

Eric Lipton's "Security Post Would Put Kerik Atop Field That Enriched Him" ( begins:

Just five years ago, Bernard B. Kerik was facing lawsuits from a condominium association and bank over delinquent payments owed on a modest New Jersey condo he owned. Today, he is a multimillionaire as a result of a lucrative partnership with former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and an even more profitable relationship with a stun-gun manufacturer.

If he is confirmed to the post of homeland security secretary, to which President Bush nominated him last week, he will oversee an enormous department that does business with some of the companies that helped make him wealthy.

If that were it, if Lipton's article ended there, it would still be superior to the front page story that the Times ran on Sunday. "For Kerik, a Blunt New Yorker, a Complex Washington Task" ( was thirty-seven (always check my math yourself) paragraphs of gloss and puff. (I count six paragraphs containing any comments that might be construed as negative re: Kerik. That would include a paragraph containing a single sentences that was structured around this type of pattern: "He was terrific about . . . but he was often not very good about . . .").

If I seem overly sarcastic in my comments on the Times today, blame it on an hour's sleep. Or on the fact that Bumiller quotes from a song that will more than likely be performed at Bush's inauguration (it "was the anthem of the 2004 Bush campaign"):

One kid dreams of fame and fortune

One kid helps pay the rent

One could end up going to prison

One just might be president.

Anyone else hearing a first-when-there's-nothing-but-a-slow-glowing-dream "Flashdance"-type feel to that song? Anyone else, remembering Bush shaking his "bon bon" with Ricky Martin in 2001, scared at the thought of what might happen on stage this time?

Do you Yahoo!?

[Note: This post has been edited. Title's been changing and "kids" in the lyric near the end has been changed to "kid." Typos pointed out were fixed.]