In what's so far been a slow news week, bloggers are playing media critics, reacting to Washington Post stories on President Bush's political strategies and the Jack Abramoff saga, as well as poking fun at a newsgathering gaffe by the Los Angeles Times. (Slate is owned by the Washington Post Co.)
Saving President Bush: A piece in today's Washington Post profiles the inside battle to salvage President Bush's scandal-filled second term. While top adviser Karl Rove has advocated a hard-line offense to counter critics, other aides prefer a softer approach.
Pointing out that Democrats are perceived as soft on defense, The Application Blog's Brian Beutler says Rove's strategy is probably the right one for Bush to follow. "So as long as Bush maintains a fierce, belligerent facade, he'll be fine politically. If in 2009 there's a Democratic president who pulls us out of Iraq, then she'll be the one held accountable for whatever goes wrong (or right, I suppose) in the aftermath."
On Takeitpersonally, a blog calling for Bush's impeachment, Profmarcus said "facing reality may become the new bush strategy" and adds that that "oughta be interesting, given how much reality he has yet to face."
Other bloggers are reacting to the Post's story rather than the White House's inner workings. At Wonkette, contributor Dceiver saw the story as a love fest spun to make even ill-conceived Bush efforts appear doomed by outside forces. Dceiver quotes from the Post story: "Overarching initiatives such as restructuring Social Security are unworkable in a time of war" and adds her own translation: "Yeah, or: Unworkable solutions to Social Security are unworkable at any time whatsoever."
On Speakspeak, Eric Jaffa complains that the paper is spewing "right wing rhetoric" in cahoots with the administration. He calls the administration's efforts at tort reform an effort to impede injured citizens looking to sue corporations for defective products. Jaffa says the story's slant falls right in line with the pro-business Bush administration.
Mike Stark at liberal Daily Kos seems to hold the opposite viewpoint, asserting that the Post is not toeing the Republican party line. "I mean, how surreal is it to witness this institutional news source extricate itself from the bowels of the republican noise machine right before our very eyes?" Stark cops to a serious case of "schadenfreude" when it comes to the Bush backtrack.
A post by Jack Ballinger on Bluecollarpolitics.com blasts the Post for using only its own poll numbers to support the assertion that Bush is gaining back some of his lost popularity points among Americans. "So, when the Washington Post states 'Despite the gain in polls,' there's a good reason they ONLY point to their own poll, as it's the only one that fits their headline."
Read more about Bush's strategy here.
"The Enron of lobbying": Bloggers are digging into the Post's profile of Jack Abramoff, which describes him as an "ingenious dealmaker who hatched interlocking schemes that exploited the machinery of government and trampled the norms of doing business in Washington." Friends and associates of the former Washington lobbyist are being indicated for fraud, corruption, and even murder for a series of scandals.
Republican Minnesota is blunt: "This guy is the most unethical person in Washington D.C. and has harmed the GOP cause all in the name of success." Balloon Juice's Tim F. offers this image: "You can just imagine an eleven-year-old Abramoff borrowing against dad's car to swing the sixth-grade class elections."
Liberal Atrios questions the tone of the following Post assertion: "DeLay, a Christian conservative, did not quite know what to make of Abramoff, who wore a beard and a yarmulke. They forged political ties, but the two men never became personally close, according to associates of both men." He wants to know: "What are even to make of this construction? It would be unthinkable that the good and honorable and wonderful conservative Christian DeLay could be friends with big Jewy Jew Abramoff?"
"I liked the line, 'This could be the Enron of lobbying.' I'd hate to think what is if this isn't," said Calvin Ross at The New Normal. And Stevie Stever calls the story "one of the most interesting and frightening reads in recent history."
Read more about the Abramoff scandal here.
Oops: Bloggers are snickering over a correction in the Los Angeles Times. The paper ran an article Tuesday quoting Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal saying that the state "now considers the wolf as a federal dog" that is not worthy of protection. According to Editor and Publisher, the quote was lifted from a fake press release created as an April Fools' Day joke.
Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt claims the Times correction did not do justice to the paper's "front-page pratfall." Eric at Vikingpundit writes: "The L.A. Times gets punk'd... Let's never again hear about the awful quality of fact-checking on the blogosphere. " Dartanyon de Spirito at Connectleft snipes, "Remember when the standard for mainstream journalism was to verify a source two or three times before publishing it? What a quaint idea."
Slate's Mickey Kaus, a frequent LAT critic, says "I almost hate to write this item—the LAT has been getting livelier recently, and if it goes into a fit of fact-checking in response to its latest round of screw-ups that will only put the bloodless twits back in charge."
Read more about the Los Angeles Times' mistake.
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