Tuesday, January 25, 2005

The Times pushes happy talk (and hopefully gets their report on Hillary Clinton's latest speech wrong)

The New York Times front pages happy talk this morning via Edward Wong's "Balking at Vote, Sunnis Seek Role on Constitution":

This talk by prominent Sunnis is the most positive sign yet that there is still a chance they will take part in the political process, potentially bolstering the beleaguered American effort to plant democracy in the Middle East.

Elections are scheduled for the 30th of this month (the Times' editorial board has strongly come out in favor of postponing those elections -- see The Third Estate Sunday Review for commentary on the editorial board's position) and here comes to the Times to stamp a happy face on them. The Sunnis may not particpate in the elections, Wong tells us, but isn't it just dandy that they'd want to participate in the writing of their constitution?

If Christian Parent is to be believed (and I find him trust worthy), the Times reporters are quite aware of realities on the ground in Iraq. Backing up Baghdad Burning's report of a lack of basic services in Baghdad, Dahr Jamail reports:

This morning as we’re driving under clear, crisp skies on the harrowing streets Abu Talat tells me, “We have had neither water nor electricity at our house since 9am yesterday morning. It is as if we are camping in our house!”

The gloss over continues with Neil Lewis's
"A.C.L.U. Presents Accusations of Serious Abuse of Iraqi Civilians" which is front paged but provides far less detail and perspective than the segment on NPR's Morning Edition that's airing right now.

On the subject of NPR, Seymour Hersh was on The Diane Rehm Show yesterday addressing Porter Goss' dwindling power at the CIA and the administration's attempts to circumvent the CIA.

Patrick Healy's "Clinton Seeking Shared Ground Over Abortions" is troubling. One can't read it without taking into account the paper's long attack on the Clintons (Gene Lyons has documented the paper's gross mistakes in covering Whitewater in Fools for Scandal: How the Media Invented Whitewater) and, therefore, wondering how reality-based Healy's statements are.
Taking them at face value, if Hillary Clinton is moving to 'shared ground' on reproductive rights, she'd do well to realize that she's not setting herself up well for a run for president in 2008 (if she indeed wants that).

Talk to her constituents and it's not hard to find some who are against the war/occupation and feel she has dismissed/ignored their concerns. In late 2002, two prominent international feminists shared with me their disgust over what they saw as her lack of her assistance and attention to the continued problems of women in Afghanistan. They spoke carefully using terms like "grave disappointment" to describe their reactions in attempting to address the issue with her.

Now the Times is reporting that Hillary's attempting to accommodate the "values" crowd.
And yes, Healy actually uses that language in his report:

Mrs. Clinton's address came as the Democratic Party itself engages in its own re-examination of its handling of the issue in the wake of Senator John Kerry's loss in the presidential race.
Democratic senators such as Harry Reid of Nevada and Dianne Feinstein of California have also pressed for a greater focus on reducing unintended pregnancies, and some Democratic consultants have urged that party leaders mint new language to reach voters who identified moral values as a top issue for them in last November's election.

Healy apparently missed Adam Nagourney's "last word" on the "values" myth at the start of this month:

The urge to explain immediately why Mr. Kerry lost was aggravated by what many pollsters viewed as flawed exit polling that led analysists initially to overstate factors like the role of values and the number of Hispanic voters who fled Mr. Kerry for Mr. Bush.

(To see an examination of Nagourney's own role in pushing that "values" nonsense originally see "Yo, Nagourney, Check Your Fly.")

Healy's missed Nagourney's 'reassessment.' But then, no one at the paper seems to know from one day to another what's been reported (which goes to the paper's inability to connect dots and offer perspective). But what's the excuse of Hillary Clinton and the people surrounding her?

The whole thing recalls her work on "welfare reform" as first lady. That's not the image she needs to be taking to the base. Could she, if she wanted to run, be elected in president in 2008?
Yes, she could. She does have the votes if she can count on the base. She's never going to sway the people who've made hating her a cottage industry. If in attempting to sway them or "swing voters," she turns off the base (continues to turn off the base), she'll flame out in the primaries quicker than Jerry Brown.

E-mails to this site ask where is she? Where was she on the Ohio vote? Where was she in opposing Condi Rice?

Barbara Boxer has energized the base. If Hillary Clinton's not the most slammed Democrat in e-mails to this site, that's only because Diane Feinstein has been even more disappointing to members. This isn't how you lay ground work for a campaign in 2008.

On Morning Edition today, Julia King just gave a commentary about some Democrats rush to distance themselves from abortion. As she noted, if the long support for reprodutive rights is going to be dropped, they're going to lose some women voters. (Reproductive rights, as King noted, is "one reason so many women vote Democrat.")

This "moderate" stance based on the false notion that "values" decided the election is distressing. And when Hillary Clinton falls for this nonsense, it's even more troubling. (Clinton's more than smart enough to ask "Did the polling i.d. 'values?'") People are looking for leaders and this isn't the time for her to attempt to moderate her stances. It would be bad for a run in 2008, but it's even worse for her already shaky image with the base.

[Disclosure, I have met Hillary Clinton.]