Thursday, January 20, 2005

The Times must realize how weak they've been all week, they bring out one of the true all stars for this morning's front page: John F. Burns.

Capturing reality, a lost art on the paper's front page this week, Burns easily has the best front page piece all week with "5 Bomb Attacks Kill 26 As Vote By Iraqis Nears."

But Dr. Allawi raised the tantalizing prospect of an eventual American withdrawal while giving little away, insisting that a pullout could not be tied to a fixed timetable, but rather to the Iraqi forces' progress toward standing on their own. That formula is similar to what President Bush and other senior administration officials have spoken about.
Some American military commanders have said privately that with this approach and considering the demoralization, desertion and unwillingness to fight common among Iraqi forces trained so far, American troops could be tied down for years, unless elections or other political developments bring the war to an unexpected end.

I'll also suggest that Mary Williams Walsh's "Talk of Changing Pension Math Raises Concern of Benefit Cuts" appears worth reading. Note the appears. I'm in D.C. for the protests and honoring the "Not a Damn Dime Day" boycott (no spending today). A very nice older woman passed her copy of the paper onto me but part of this article is missing due to something she clipped. Common Ills members would love her -- as she passed the paper on, she noted, "You're welcome to it but honestly it's been useless most of the month."

And useless is Toady S. Purdam. Todd by birth, Toady by choice. "A More Relaxed Laura Bush Shows Complexity Under Calm" doesn't belong on the front page unless it's there to make the writers of Ladies' Home Journal feel like hard hitting journalists. Toady's pretty much useless (obviously angling for an award in next year's review!) but he does pass on that even Laura laughs at Jenna and only finds it more humorous when the laughter humiliates Jenna. Briefly,
Jenna pronounced "Sioux City" as "Sigh-yocks City."

"Don't put that in!" Mrs. Bush said quickly, as her listeners exploded in laughter. "It was so funny. She was totally humiliated."

What a sweet family. And so highly educated. Who knows what other "scoops" sob-sister Toady will unearth in the coming months? Pads or tampons? We all wait breathlessly.

What else is wrong with today's front page?

The Times pushes a poll they were part of. It's November all over again as Adam Nagourney and Janet Elcer once again summarize polling data. Maybe they got it right this time?

It's Thursday morning. The story's on the front page. The polling finished Tuesday night. Which means we're looking at them doing another quick summary.

But even if they got it right this time (don't place any bets), does a New York Times/CBS poll actually make for front page news?

Well, maybe on a day when Toady and the Times think "A More Relaxed Laura Bush . . ." the results of a poll are front page news.

William Glaberson actually brings perspective to the front page of the Times in his "Focus Changes in Terror Case Against Sheik." Make time to read that article.

Martha Stewart fans may be glad to know the company's doing well, but I question "As Martha Stewart Does Time, Flush Times for Her Company" being placed on the front page.

That said, it's the strongest front page all week. And any edition that features the real reporting of John F. Burns on the front page is going to be graded on a curve. The older woman who kindly passed her paper onto me noted Burns and Maureen Dowd as the only things worth reading in this morning's paper.

As a thank you to that woman, we'll note Dowd's op-ed briefly. For those of you who are Dowd fans and always asking that her work be addressed: yes, it's a funny op-ed today. There is a sense of perspective in it sorely missing in the bulk of the paper (as Brad has e-mailed repeatedly). However, how could Dowd (of all people!) miss the most obvious pop cultural ref?
She begins her column by tossing out Lawrence Summer's and his inane (and sexist) remarks that have gotten him in trouble. Dowd using that as a spring board practically demands that she start off with something like: "Sounding like that discontinued talking Barbie ("Math is hard!"), Harvard president Lawrence Summers . . ."

It's the one comparison no one has yet to make and one that I fully expected her to. That said, it's a to-the-point op-ed and one that most of you will enjoy. She's using Summers math comments to explain how the administration's own statements and 'logic' don't add up.

We're not going to now be discussing the op-ed pages but with the strong reporting of John Burns making the front page and the woman who gave me the paper stressing how much she enjoyed Dowd (she quoted a line of the op-ed), I'll break pattern and note the column.

Remember, if you're observing "Not One Damn Dime Day" that means no spending until midnight tonight, your time.