Companion site:


Google search...


Daily Howler: VandeHei mitigates Kerry's bungle--and he ignores Bush's lies
Daily Howler logo
THIS JUST IN FROM SENATOR MALAPROP! VandeHei mitigates Kerry’s bungle—and he ignores Bush’s lies: // link // print // previous // next //

STEINHAUER IN CHAINS: When will elitist newspaper editors let our brilliant stylists entertain us? Yesterday, we marveled at Jennifer’s Steinhauer’s wit and panache in the following passage about Nancy Pelosi (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 10/31/06). We transcribed the passage as it appeared in our hard-copy New York Times. It still appears this way on Nexis:
STEINHAUER (10/30/06): Her voting record is among the most liberal in Congress. She gets an ''A'' from the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League and an ''F'' from the National Rifle Association. She favors alternative sentencing over prison construction, schools without prayer and death with taxes. She voted against the use of force in Iraq, though after the war started she voted to finance it.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Now that was authentic Steinhauer! Showcasing her masterful wit and panache, Steinhauer amused Times readers with her clever description of the way Pelosi “favors death with taxes.” But wouldn’t you know it! An e-mailer told us that Steinhauer’s brilliance had been reined in by her worm-like editors! Here’s how that passage now appears in the paper’s on-line edition:
STEINHAUER IN CHAINS: Her voting record is among the most liberal in Congress. She gets an ''A'' from the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League and an ''F'' from the National Rifle Association. She favors alternative sentencing over prison construction and opposes prayer in the schools. She voted against the use of force in Iraq, though after the war started she voted to finance it.
Doggone it! The phrase about “favoring schools without prayer” has been turned into pedestrian prose—prose that simply gives information without providing Steinhauer’s “tude.” And the deathless phrase about “death with taxes” has been killed altogether! Steinhauer shared her masterful wit—and the editors have gone back and snuffed it! Isn’t that sad? After all, where are we going to find our amusement if not in our Times “news reports?”

Like Maureen Dowd before her, Steinhauer is willing to showcase her brilliant wit. When will elitist editors get out of the way and let this top stylist amuse us?

AS NOTED: As we noted, Steinhauer’s profile was drowning in RNC spin. She found about a hundred ways to tell us how “rich” and “elitist” Pelosi is. This is bottom-line RNC messaging, as we see again today in the new turmoil about elitist John Kerry. Go ahead—read back through Steinhauer’s profile and see how often she hits this point. Jennifer Steinhauer was shocked—just shocked!—to see that there were wealthy people at a big Dem party fund-raiser!

By the way, when Pelosi “favors death with taxes” (as Teddy Roosevelt did), she favors taxing wealthy people like herself. Does that suggest that she’s an idealist—that she puts the nation’s interest ahead of her own? Funny, isn’t it? The point was sitting right there for the making. But somehow, Steinhauer—the latest script-magnet—stayed away from such unsanctioned thoughts.

THIS JUST IN FROM SENATOR MALAPROP: Here at THE HOWLER, we like John Kerry—but he’s clearly a malaprop machine. Yes, we assume he was trying to tell a joke about dumb old President Bush. But he bungled badly in what he said—and it couldn’t have come at a worse time. Next Tuesday, some Democrats will lose because of his bungle. And no, we won’t know who they are.

That said, the Washington Post is trying hard to soften the blow this morning. Here’s Jim VandeHei’s opening paragraph as he reports the new flap:
VANDEHEI (11/1/06): President Bush last night accused Sen. John F. Kerry of disparaging U.S. troops in Iraq, echoing the 2004 strategy of ridiculing the Massachusetts senator to raise anew questions about Democratic leaders and their commitment to the troops. The highly coordinated White House effort came as Republicans sought to shift the focus away from an unpopular war and GOP scandals that are putting their congressional majorities at risk.
Right there in his opening paragraph, VandeHei offered an assessment about motive—an assessment which tends to undercut the force of the Republican criticism. In paragraph 7, he helped out again:
VANDEHEI: In a statement released only moments after Bush spoke, Kerry said: "I make apologies to no one about my criticism of the President and his broken policy that kills and maims our heroes in Iraq every single day. This pathetic attempt to distort a botched joke about President Bush is a shameful effort to distract from a botched war."

The unusual back-and-forth that has little to do with the 2006 midterm elections comes as Democrats are planning to end the campaign by bashing Bush and GOP candidates for supporting the U.S. war policy. A senior Democratic strategist said the party will run Iraq-focused ads in at least 15 of the most competitive House races between now and Election Day.
That highlighted statement is pure editorial. Under our system, each voter decides if a given event “has something to do with the midterm elections.” VandeHei is entitled to his opinion, of course. But it’s been a long time since we saw a big scribe working this hard to spin for the Dems. But then, tomorrow we’ll show you the comical way Chris Matthews worked to defend Kerry last night. Matthews’ methods of textual analysis have been magically reformed—about seven years too late.

But while this was happening, there was Bush, lying again in the face of the voters. Yesterday, he expressed his outrage about Kerry’s comment during a campaign speech in Georgia. But before he railed about Kerry’s misconduct, the president lied in the voters’ faces. With apologies, we offer a fairly long excerpt. We use the official CQ Transcription, just as it appears on Nexis, including the transcript’s audience reactions. Bush is explaining his masterful reasoning after September 11:
BUSH (10/31/06): This is a different kind of war. This is a war that requires good information in order for this government to do its most important job, which is to protect you. And so therefore, I felt it was important if Al Qaeda or an Al Qaeda affiliate was making a phone call into the United States, we better understand what they're calling about.


In this different kind of war, we pick up people off the battlefield. We capture people like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who our intelligence officers believe was the mastermind of the September 11 attacks. I felt it was important for the Central Intelligence Agency to be in a position to question this person to determine if he knew information that would be necessary to protect you.


Now, when you're out rounding up the vote and people say, "Well, there's no difference between them," or they're saying, "Well, maybe I feel comfortable with the Washington Democrats," I want you to remind them about these three votes we just recently had. There's a clear pattern.

When it came time to renew the Patriot Act, more than 75 percent of the Democrat members in the House of Representatives voted no.When it came time to vote on whether to allow the CIA to continue its program to detain and question captured terrorists, almost 80 percent of the House Democrats voted against it.


And when it came time to vote on whether the National Security Agency should continue to monitor terrorist communications, almost 90 percent of the House Democrats voted against it.


On all these vital measures, measures necessary to protect you, the Democrats in Washington follow a simple philosophy: Just say no!

When it comes to listening in on the terrorists, what's the Democrats' answer? Just say no!

When it comes to detaining terrorists, what's the Democrats’ answer?

AUDIENCE: Just say no!

Ignore Bush’s statements about those votes; as everyone knows (except that cheering audience), it’s the easiest thing in the world to demagogue the meaning of congressional votes. As a measure of this man’s gruesome dishonesty, look at the way he characterizes the Democratic position on the question of “listening in on the terrorists.” Is it true? Did “the Democrats in Washington” conclude that we should “just say no” to this practice? As everyone knows (except that booing audience), “the Democrats in Washington” wanted to “listen in on the terrorists” too—but they wanted to do so with the approval of the FISA court. They have said this again and again and again. Bush’s statement about this is so misleading that it rises to the level of outright lying. But go ahead—try to find the “journalist in Washington” who thinks that’s worth reporting.

That booing audience didn’t know that the president had chosen to lie in their faces. And don’t worry. If “the journalists in Washington” have their way, those cheering, booing, misled rubes will never have to find out.

SAME LIE, DIFFERENT GUY: Yesterday, Kevin Drum challenged Bush’s lie—having found Thomas Sowell reciting it. You know what to do—just click here.

SAMUELSON GETS IT RIGHT: Good timing! “Public opinion is often ignorant,” Robert Samuelson writes in this morning’s Post. He was describing that booing crowd—even before they had done all that booing.

Pundits hate discussing this problem. We recommend Samuelson’s treatment.