"Moderates" Opposed Tax Cut; Conservatives the "Abusers" of Moderates; Jeffords Switch Praised; Brokaw's Conservation Advocacy
1) CBS's Eric Engberg maintained that
"moderate" Democrats opposed the "massive tax cut,"
before he highlighted comments from Charles Rangel and Chris Dodd.
2) NPR's Nina Totenberg claimed Republicans have an
"abusive relationship" with moderates as "the enables"
and conservatives as "the abusers." Time's Margaret Carlson
praised Jeffords as "a man of principle" who spoke for her as
"he gave word to what some of us have not been able to."
3) Two Washington Post reporters praised Jim Jeffords for
dumping the GOP. E.J Dionne claimed his "departure may have been a
profound act of loyalty toward his fellow embattled moderates." David
Ignatius expressed relief at how Democrats can now "help" Bush:
"An administration that managed the amazing feat of getting kicked
off the U.N. Human Rights Commission this month clearly needs some help.
And now the Democrats, thanks to Sen. Jeffords, are in a position to
provide some advice and consent."
4) A Washington Post front page news story on Saturday
echoed the liberal themes expressed by Dionne and Ignatius. Thomas Edsall
and David Broder used the switch to argue that the Jeffords split "is
the most glaring example of the difficulties facing the Republican Party
in its struggle to hold together a fragile coalition under a party
leadership dominated by conservative white southern men."
5) NBC's Matt Lauer suggested to Karen Hughes: "Is
this a chance for the party to look at itself and perhaps move more to the
center, become more moderate in the wake of his defection?" ABC and
CBS on Friday morning took a similar approach toward Hughes Friday
6) "Vt. Moderate Might Leave Republican Party, But
Rightward-Marching GOP Left Him First," announced a USA Today
headline. In the story reporter Kathy Kiely more accurately dubbed
Jeffords a "northeastern liberal." Pre-1990 Jeffords earned the
same liberal rating, 87 percent, as Pat Leahy.
7) Tom Brokaw bemoaned, on the Late Show, how there's
"only kind of a rhetorical homage to conservation" in Bush's
energy plan. Brokaw thought the plan should have had more for wind and
solar power, scolded people for buying too many SUVs and blamed cars for
8) A couple of million buck is not a lot enough money,
certainly not enough spending of taxpayer money to satisfy Peter Jennings.
9) Letterman's "Top Ten Signs Your Senator Has Lost
Democrats against the "massive tax cut." From the opening of
Eric Engberg's Saturday, May 26 CBS Evening News story on House and
Senate passage of the tax cut:
"The massive tax cut had sliced through the Congress with such speed
and ease that in today's final debate liberal and moderate Democrats
were largely left complaining on the sidelines."
Viewers then saw two soundbites. First,
Congressman Charles Rangel on the House floor: "I've never heard
such poppycock in my life."
Second, Senator Chris Dodd on the Senate floor:
"This proposal is going to cause a train wreck."
So who is the "moderate," Rangel or
Dodd? And notice that despite how the original Bush tax cut package was
reduced by a fourth, from $1.7 to $1.35 trillion, Engberg still labeled it
Jeffords' defection as another excuse to repudiate conservatism and urge
the GOP to move left. On Inside Washington over the weekend NPR's Nina
Totenberg claimed Republicans have an "abusive relationship,"
with moderates as "the enables" and conservatives as "the
abusers"; Time's Jack White called Jeffords a "profile in
courage"; and Time's Margaret Carlson praised Jeffords as "a
man of principle" who spoke for her.
-- NPR's Nina Totenberg on Inside
Washington: "The message from Jeffords is not a new one. Jack Germond
has been reiterating it from the seat that he is missing from today for
the last year, and that is that Republicans, when they govern from the
right and castigate their moderate members, do so at their peril."
And: "It seems to me that the modern
Republican Party and its moderate wing are in a sort of, to use the
psychobabble of the era, in an abusive relationship...and the moderate are
the enables and the conservatives are the abusers and they just got used
to doing it that way and suddenly one member said I'm not going to take
-- Time national correspondent Jack White on
Inside Washington: "Well anybody who can make sure Trent Lott is less
on television deserves to be commended, so I classify him as a profile in
-- Time magazine reporter and columnist
Margaret Carlson on the May 26 CNN Capital Gang: "He is a man of
principle. He switched parties but not identities. He is a man who is a
rare breed now, a moderate Republican and he gave word to what some of us
have not been able to, which is that Bush campaigned as a moderate but
he's been governing as an arch-conservative."
veteran Washington Post newspaper reporters, who now write columns, took
to the Post on Sunday to sympathize with and praise the decision by
Senator Jim Jeffords to abandon the Republican Party and thus turn over
the Senate to Democrats.
"This Is Not Mutiny. It's a Different
Kind of Loyalty," argued the headline over an "Outlook"
section piece by E.J Dionne Jr., a New York Times political reporter
during the 1980s before he switched loyalties and moved to the Washington
Post. Dionne contended that "Jeffords's departure may have been a
profound act of loyalty toward his fellow embattled moderates."
Dionne admitted: "Personally, I feel for Jeffords -- and not just
because my political opinions are closer to his than to those of his
Post colleague David Ignatius, a one-time
foreign editor for the paper who, I believe, until recently was its
"Business" section editor, expressed relief in a column from
Paris on how the Democrats would now be able to check Bush's "right
wing" policies: "They can challenge judicial nominations that
don't reflect mainstream opinion; they can oversee federal agencies to
make sure they're doing the public's business, rather than pursuing a
right-wing special agenda."
Ignatius condescendingly concluded: "An
administration that managed the amazing feat of getting kicked off the
U.N. Human Rights Commission this month clearly needs some help. And now
the Democrats, thanks to Sen. Jeffords, are in a position to provide some
advice and consent."
-- An excerpt from Dionne's May 27 piece:
....Vermont Republican officials are very unhappy with Jeffords, and so
are the U.S. senators who are about to lose their committee chairmanships.
But -- and this is significant -- not all Republicans are choosing to
denounce him. In fact, Jeffords's departure may have been a profound act
of loyalty toward his fellow embattled moderates. By quitting, he
strengthened their position in the party and their ability to make demands
on its leadership. As soon as Jeffords made his announcement, such
mavericks as Maine's Olympia Snowe and Arizona's John McCain began
pressing the case that Republicans needed to be, well, kinder and gentler
toward those who depart from party orthodoxy. In their telling, Jeffords
emerges more as hero than traitor.
Personally, I feel for Jeffords -- and not just because my political
opinions are closer to his than to those of his critics. I, too, grew up
in a staunch Republican family. My views have strayed some over the years,
but because I revere my late parents, I want to insist that in all the
fundamentals I'm true to the tradition in which I was raised. You don't
have to be a politician to protest that, really and truly, you're being
loyal even when you change horses.
But politicians are accountable to voters, so their claims get much
more scrutiny. Invariably, those who decide they no longer want to dance
with the ones who brung 'em insist it's the ones who brung 'em who done
wrong. As one of history's most important party-switchers, Ronald Reagan,
said when he left the Democrats, "I didn't leave my party. My party
left me." That makes one Reagan statement, at least, with which
Jeffords wholeheartedly agrees....
To read the entirety of Dionne's treatise,
go to: http://washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A80305-2001May26.html
-- An excerpt from the May 27 column by
PARIS -- It has been annoying these past few months to hear Europeans
complain about American arrogance and isolation -- as if the conservatives
who were steering George W. Bush's presidency somehow stood for the
country as a whole. So what a pleasure to see Sen. James Jeffords puncture
those presumptions at a stroke and remind the world of the vitality and
unpredictability of American democracy.
This past week showed that there remains a mysterious balance wheel in
the American political system that frustrates attempts at unilateral,
partisan solutions. You would think that after Newt Gingrich's failed
"revolution" in Congress during the 1990s, the Republicans would
have learned that lesson. But no, they had to learn it again last week.
Jeffords's defection turned the United States momentarily into a
parliamentary democracy. It was the equivalent of a vote of no confidence,
and it shattered the conservative "mandate" the Republicans had
imagined for themselves -- oblivious to the fact that their candidate had
actually lost the popular vote in last November's elections.
Now that the Democrats control the Senate, they'll have many
opportunities to exercise the "checks and balances" of the
American system. They can challenge judicial nominations that don't
reflect mainstream opinion; they can oversee federal agencies to make sure
they're doing the public's business, rather than pursuing a right-wing
One especially useful task for the newly Democratic Senate will be to
examine the qualifications of some of the Bush administration's nominees
for ambassadorial posts in Europe. This list is so weighted toward
political cronies and campaign contributors that it seems almost like a
calculated insult to the Europeans....
The Senate's careful scrutiny of Bush administration ambassadorial
nominees will help focus the larger issue: How can the United States
connect better with the world? That's becoming a serious problem, as
anyone living abroad can testify. Years of conservative GOP repudiation of
arms treaties, environmental treaties and U.N. funding have taken their
An administration that managed the amazing feat of getting kicked off
the U.N. Human Rights Commission this month clearly needs some help. And
now the Democrats, thanks to Sen. Jeffords, are in a position to provide
some advice and consent.
To read of the Ignatius column, go to: http://washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A80285-2001May26.html
Washington Post front page news story on Saturday echoed the liberal
themes expressed by Dionne and Ignatius the next day. Instead of seeing
the Jeffords departure as conservatives do, as the act of a liberal, well
to the left of true Republican moderates, taking advantage of an
opportunity for self-aggrandizement, Post reporters Thomas Edsall and
David Broder used the switch to argue, as do liberals, that "the
Jeffords split is not an isolated incident" and that "Republican
critics have charged that what they see as intolerance of dissident views
could significantly endanger the GOP's ability to reach beyond its
An excerpt from the May 26 front page
"analysis" headlined "A Defection Highlights GOP's Fragile
Coalition," by Thomas B. Edsall and David S. Broder:
For 35 years, the Republican Party reaped huge gains among Sun Belt
whites, evangelicals and social conservatives, enough to put the GOP
within reach of becoming the nation's majority party. Now, with unexpected
abruptness, this success has begun to impose major costs.
The defection of Sen. James M. Jeffords, the Vermont Republican who
announced Thursday he was becoming an independent, is the most glaring
example of the difficulties facing the Republican Party in its struggle to
hold together a fragile coalition under a party leadership dominated by
conservative white southern men.
The Jeffords split is not an isolated incident. Although Republicans
emerged from the 2000 election in control of the White House, Senate and
House for the first time in almost 50 years, there were signs of
shakiness. President Bush did not win a plurality, trailing his opponent,
Al Gore, in the popular vote. The GOP nearly lost control of the Senate,
with Vice President Cheney available to salvage a 50-50 split in its
membership. Republicans showed conspicuous weaknesses in the nation's
suburbs, the crucial battleground. And the northern Atlantic seaboard and
the entire West Coast emerged as Democratic bastions.
"The problem for the Republicans is that we risk becoming a
regional rather than a national party," Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine)
said yesterday. "And any party that becomes regional has difficulty
winning a national election."
Last December, in a meeting with Republican senators, pollster Bill
McInturff warned: "It is clear that when Republicans think about
electoral strategy and about 'turning out our base,' we must understand
that the Democratic base coalition is expanding as a percent of the
In other words, the voters attracted to the GOP by its stands on lower
taxes, opposition to abortion and a strong military -- the coalition that
powered Ronald Reagan into the White House twice and George H.W. Bush once
in the 1980s -- are no longer a reliable majority.
Now, Jeffords's defection has cost the GOP control of the Senate,
posing new problems for the president. And in the aftermath of Jeffords's
departure, Republican critics have charged that what they see as
intolerance of dissident views could significantly endanger the GOP's
ability to reach beyond its base....
The shift in the regional base of the GOP shows clearly in the makeup
of Congress. In 1980, when Ronald Reagan's election boosted Republican
strength in both the House and Senate, the South and the border states
sent 49 Republicans to the House; the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states,
46. By 1994, when Republicans recaptured the House, there were twice as
many from the South and border states as from the Northeast and
Mid-Atlantic -- 80 and 41, respectively.
The pattern was similar in the Senate: near-parity, 13-10, in 1980;
almost double, 18-10 in 1994.
Of those 10 Senate seats from the Chesapeake Bay up to the Canadian
border held by Republicans after the 1994 election, three are now gone:
Incumbents lost in Delaware and New York, and Jeffords has abandoned the
But in 1980 when moderates from the Northeast
and Mid-Atlantic had parity with Southerners the GOP did not win a
majority of House seats.
To read this Washington Post story in full, go
this a chance for the party to look at itself and perhaps move more to the
center, become more moderate in the wake of his defection?" So asked
NBC's Matt Lauer Friday morning in a leading question to White House
counselor Karen Hughes. Lauer's suggestion on Today matched the theme
conveyed to Hughes on ABC's Good Morning America and CBS's The Early
Show which all concentrated on White House errors and argued that the GOP
must do more to "incorporate moderates into the party." Not one
morning show interviewer raised the possibility Jeffords was just out for
himself or was himself too liberal for the party.
ABC's Elizabeth Vargas inquired, as noted by
MRC analyst Jessica Anderson: "He did say yesterday, though, that
since President Bush's election, he felt that moderate Republicans no
longer had a voice in the party and warned that if President Bush didn't
incorporate moderates into the party, he would be a one-term
CBS's Jane Clayson opened her interview, as
taken down by MRC analyst Brian Boyd: "In his meeting with the
President this week Senator Jeffords says he told Mr. Bush, quote, you
will be a one term president if you don't listen to moderates. I hope he
got the message. With this defection did the President get the
Clayson followed up: "But even top
Republicans are acknowledging that some soul searching is necessary now
regarding how dissenting voices are treated within the Republican Party.
Even Senator Arlen Specter said Jeffords defection is a very loud wake up
call. Isn't it?"
misleading "moderate" labeling of Senator Jeffords whose ratings
put him 73 points below a perfect conservative score, but just 39 points
below a perfect liberal score.
In addition to the "moderate" labels
quoted in items above, on Friday's Good Morning America, Linda Douglass
reported: "Senator Jeffords was blunt about why he's leaving the
Republican Party. He said with President Bush in the White House,
conservatives no longer feel that they have to welcome moderate
Republicans like himself."
Last Wednesday a Washington Post headline
declared: "Moderate Republican Sets His Own Course: Jeffords Is Often
at Odds With Party."
"Vt. Moderate Might Leave Republican
Party, But Rightward-Marching GOP Left Him First," argued a front
page headline in Thursday's USA Today. In the story below, however,
reporter Kathy Kiely managed to tag Jeffords as both a
"moderate" and a liberal. In one sentence she maintained:
"If Sen. Jim Jeffords was feeling neglected, marginalized, even
ignored as a moderate in a party dominated by conservatives from places
such as Texas, Mississippi and Oklahoma, that is definitely not the case
But five paragraphs later she wrote: "One
of the last of his party's once-thriving branch of Northeastern
That last description is closer to the mark.
Last week I had some confusion in reading the Americans for Democratic
Action's liberal ratings. A CyberAlert reader pointed out that I just
had to scroll down the ADA ratings page several more feet to locate their
"lifetime" ratings which can be compared to those of the
American Conservative Union (ACU).
Doing so, I learned Jeffords voted the liberal
way 61 percent of the time over his career, and an incredible 87 percent
of the time before 1990. That pre-1990 rating is identical to the record
of his Democratic Senate colleague from Vermont, Pat Leahy. In contrast,
Jeffords' lifetime rating from the ACU is a piddling 27 percent.
Compare Jeffords to real northeastern
"moderate Republicans," Maine Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan
Collins. Snowe earned a lifetime 40 from the ADA and Collins a 34.
That's 21 and 27 points less liberal than Jeffords.
ACU assessed Snowe's lifetime voting record
at 51 percent, 56 percent for Collins. That makes Jeffords 24 and 29
points less conservative than the two moderates.
Brokaw expressed his dissatisfaction to David Letterman about Bush's
energy plan. On Thursday's Late Show he bemoaned how there's
"only kind of a rhetorical homage to conservation for example and
doing something about that." Brokaw agreed the plan should have had
more for wind and solar power, scolded people for buying too many SUVs and
declared that "global warming is affected a lot more by the cars we
drive than by industry at this point."
Brokaw appeared on Letterman's show the
night the May 24 USA Today reported that he attended a fundraiser at New
York's American Museum of Natural History for Conservation
International, which featured actor Harrison Ford, director Sydney
Pollack, and Saturday Night Live Bush and Gore impersonators Will Ferrell
and Darrell Hammond. USA Today's Jeannie Williams relayed: "Tom
Brokaw was also on hand; wife Meredith is on the CI board. Meredith noted,
'Our parents were products of the Depression. Of course we turned off
the lights. You wouldn't think not to. I'm feeling like a failed
parent because our children don't have the concept.'"
When Letterman asked Tom Brokaw about Bush
plan, Brokaw responded, as transcribed by MRC intern Lindsay Welter:
"The enormous emphasis here is on increasing
production and a big reliance on fossil fuels and probably trying to kick
start nuclear energy again as a, as a component of the energy package in
America. Only I think it's fair to say, only kind of a rhetorical homage
to conservation for example and doing something about that. Both the
President and the Vice President feel very strongly that we have to have
more independence. We are relying more on foreign oil than we were even
during the energy crisis of Jimmy Carter, but, and and they do say that
you can't conserve your way to independence, the fact is that we've
made great strides when it comes to conservation. Most cars in America,
not your cars, are a lot more fuel efficient, are a lot more fuel
efficient now when you buy those."
A bit later, Letterman contended: "I
think we all recognize the fact that with more people and the way of life
that we love and hold dear we're going to need, energy. But why isn't,
or maybe there were, provisions for let's explore and exploit
alternative energies. What about solar power, what about wind power was
there any of that in this?"
Brokaw: "Not very much."
Letterman: "But shouldn't there be?"
Brokaw: "Yes, I think that."
Letterman: "I mean, haven't we reached
that point now?"
Brokaw: "Well I believe that there should
be. I'm, you know I can't claim that I'm an absolute expert on
Brokaw: "I've spent a lot of time covering
it over the years."
Letterman: "I understand."
Brokaw: "And I do think that all of us have
a role in this. You know, we stand back and say, 'oh my God, gasoline
prices are too high and what are we going to do about rolling
blackouts?' and then we go out and buy the world's largest SUV."
Brokaw: "You know, and pump it up, $50 to
fill up the tank and think nothing about it. The country, we have a great
quality of life here, we can continue to have that. We've made enormous
strides, industry actually is doing quite well when it comes to
conservation because it's cost efficient for them to do that. Consumers
are not doing so well. The global warming is affected a lot more by the
cars we drive than by industry at this point."
of million buck is not a lot enough money, or certainly not enough
spending of taxpayer money to satisfy Peter Jennings.
During his "Medical File" briefs on
Friday's World News Tonight, Jennings intoned: "The Environmental
Protection Agency's going to spend $2 million trying to make some of the
nation's beaches less of a health risk. Doesn't sound like a lot of
May 24 Late Show with David Letterman, prompted by the Senator James
Jeffords party switch, the "Top Ten Signs Your Senator Has Lost
It." Copyright 2001 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.
10. Only voting he does is on MTV's "Total Request Live"
9. Claims to be senator from the great state of Margaritaville
8. During debates, speaks only through a hand puppet made of his hairpiece
7. Instead of voting "Yay" or "Nay," often voted
6. Publicly fights with wife about his mistress (Sorry, that's a sign your
mayor has lost it)
5. Supports "dress down Fridays" by showing up to work naked
4. Describes George W. Bush as the "greatest president in the history
of the United States of America"
3. Only interested in capturing the "monkey man vote"
2. During TV interviews, says things like... (Video of Sen. Lieberman,
"I'm going to raise your taxes so I can buy myself a sweet Camaro")
1. Asks the floor to recognize the "junior senator" in his pants
-- Brent Baker
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