Price Caps Will Increase Supply?; Sympathy for Casey Martin's Cause; News Weeklies Used Jeffords to Push Bush to Center
1) Dan Rather came at California's energy problems from
the point of view of Governor Gray Davis, stressing George Bush's
"refusal to consider any price controls."
2) The Washington Bureau Chief of Fortune magazine argued
Tuesday night on FNC that price caps on California electricity prices
"might help the blackouts through this summer," contending caps
would somehow lead to the availability of more electricity.
3) The networks aired balanced stories on the Supreme
Court's decision to force the PGA to change its rules for golfer Casey
Martin, but reporters betrayed their sympathies. CBS's Diana Olick noted
the ruling does not give "every disabled athlete a place on the
team" because it was "not about playing the game, but about
getting to the starting line."
4) Time's Margaret Carlson bizarrely worried that in ten
years the tax cut will mean "there's not going to be money to pay
for basic services."
5) Newsweek proclaimed beside a cover picture of Jim
Jeffords: "A Quiet Yankee Sends a Loud Message to the Republican
Right." The other news weeklies also approached from the left,
rebuking the GOP as too conservative and urging Bush left. Time's Karen
Tumulty complained Bush's "compassionate rhetoric masked his
conservatism" and concluded by gushing: "Thanks to a stern,
quiet man named Jeffords, Bush may finally have the opportunity to create
the kind of Washington he promised last fall."
Rather on Tuesday night came at California's energy problems from the
point of view of California Governor Gray Davis, focusing on President
Bush's "refusal to consider any price controls." In the
subsequent story, John Roberts showcased a single woman: "The
rejection of price caps sparked howls of protest from one woman in the
Rather set up the May 29 CBS Evening News
story: "It was a politically-charged meeting in California today
between Republican President Bush and Democratic Governor Gray Davis. But
there was no meeting of the minds about Bush help for energy-short
California, especially the President's refusal to consider any price
Roberts ran through Bush's day in
California, noting: "The rejection of price caps sparked howls of
protest from one woman in the audience and threats of legal action from
Illiteracy 101. The Washington Bureau Chief of a major business magazine
argued Tuesday night on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume that price
caps on California electricity prices "might help the blackouts
through this summer."
When fellow panelist Morton Kondracke of Roll
Call pointed out, "If energy is cheaper, then you're going to use
more of it. Therefore, you're going to have blackouts," Jeff
Birnbaum of Fortune magazine held his ground: "Yeah, but you may also
have a chance of having more of it, it's also possible."
Birnbaum's rationale might be explained by
his admittance to Hume that he didn't take any economics courses in
MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth took down this
exchange in the roundtable portion of the May 29 FNC show:
Jeff Birnbaum: "I think that the Republican
strategists in the White House should worry that if there really are a lot
of blackouts and very high prices in California, there's nowhere for
them to go. I mean, they have really boxed themselves out and said, no, we
cannot do price [caps]-"
Brit Hume: "I know, but price caps are not
going to stop the blackouts."
Birnbaum: "Yeah, but what can he do? Right
now, what can he do to help California? And he'll be blamed because
he's President." Hume: "But the only thing he's being asked
for is price caps. Price caps, would you agree, do you think price caps
will help or hurt the blackouts?"
Birnbaum: "I think that that might, I think
that that might help the blackouts through this summer-"
Hume: "How could price caps-?"
Morton Kondracke: "No, no, no!"
Birnbaum: "It's perfectly possible."
Kondracke: "If energy is cheaper, then
you're going to use more of it. Therefore, you're going to have
Birnbaum: "Yeah, but you may also have a
chance of having more of it, it's also possible."
Hume: "How is that?"
Hume: "How do price caps make that
Birnbaum: "Well, because people might be
able to, to pay for energy. It's possible. I think, wait, as a political
matter, wait, as a political matter-"
Hume: "Jeff, did you ever have any economics
Birnbaum: "In college, no. High school, it
was excellent, actually. No, I'm teasing."
Hume: "There are books, we can, that could
Birnbaum certainly needs some help. His way
has already been tried and blackouts occurred anyway. Under the regulatory
scheme of the last few years the state mandated caps on the price
utilities could charge customers.
night's ABC, CBS and NBC stories on the Supreme Court ruling which
decided that under the Americans with Disabilities Act golfer Casey
Martin, who suffers from a degenerative circulatory condition, must be
allowed by the Professional Golfers Association to use a cart between
holes, generated largely balanced stories. All three included comments
from either Jack Nicklaus or a PGA official lamenting the intrusion into
the rules of a private organization.
But, network reporters betrayed their feelings
in their conclusions as all three ended with spins in favor of Martin and
the ruling and not by reflecting on the negative consequences of the
pandora's box the ruling may have opened by letting a court decide which
disability a sport must change its rules to accommodate:
-- ABC's Jackie Judd on World News Tonight:
"He is now part of a second-tier golfing circuit, but the court
decision gives up the opportunity to compete and that, he says, is all he
-- Diana Olick on the CBS Evening News:
"The high court has now opened the door for many more challenges to
professional sports, but it did not by any means give every disabled
athlete a place on the team. That's because the Martin case is a narrow
one -- not about playing the game, but about getting to the starting
-- Tom Brokaw introduced the NBC Nightly News
story with a more expansive take: "At the U.S. Supreme Court tonight
a huge victory for one professional golfer that ultimately could have a
big impact on millions of other disabled Americans."
NBC reporter Fred Francis concluded by quoting
from Antonin Scalia's dissent, the only story to mention it, noting how
Scalia had quoted "Mark Twain's classic barb that golf is quote,
'a good walk spoiled.' For Casey Martin there are no good walks and
the high court agreed."
federal government spends over $2 trillion every year and is projected to
continue hiking spending by more than the inflation rate, but Time's
Margaret Carlson still bizarrely maintains that in ten years, because of
the tax cut, "there's not going to be money to pay for basic
On Saturday's Capital Gang on CNN guest
panelist Jack Kemp reminded the panel how "last week I watched her
and she said 'oh, this is the end of government as we know it.'"
Indeed, that was the "Howler of the Weekend" in the May 21
CyberAlert as Carlson claimed that because of the tax cut "government
is going to end as we know it....Government will be drastically
On the May 26 show Carlson defended herself:
"What we don't know yet is which parts of government will suffer
most. The only parts that Bob Novak, or perhaps you Jack, would care about
is like air traffic control or beach erosion, but if air traffic control
doesn't grow over the next ten years-"
Kemp: "What's that have to do with tax
Carlson: "But there's no money, there's
going to be no money."
Kemp: "There's a $6 trillion
Carlson: "In ten years, when the bill comes
due, there's not going to be money to pay for basic services. We don't
know where it's going to come from."
like the television networks, the weekly news magazines approached the
defection of Senator Jim Jeffords from the left, assuming his decision
means President Bush has gone too far to the right and should move to the
middle. Even after listing Jeffords liberal votes over the years going
back to voting against Reagan's tax cut in 1981 -- though of course not
calling them liberal -- Newsweek and Time explicitly rejected the notion
that Jeffords was out for himself and only made the switch at a time when
he could achieve maximum self-aggrandizement.
Below are some highlight quotes from the
magazines followed by lengthier excerpts, gathered by the MRC's newest
analyst, Ken Shepherd.
Newsweek blared its bias on its cover, which
proclaimed beside a picture of Jeffords: "A Quiet Yankee Sends a Loud
Message to the Republican Right."
Inside, Jonathan Alter called it "an act
of political conscience" and stressed how it caused "sleepless
nights" for Jeffords. Alter rebutted the idea that "the
unassuming Vermonter [was] a craven usurper." Alter, whose piece also
carried the byline of Eleanor Clift (remember that the next time anyone
claims she no longer writes news stories), argued: "Another way to
view it is that Jeffords is restoring the true message sent by the evenly
divided electorate last November, which is that the parties must share
power." Alter concluded by implying Republicans should have been more
accommodating of Jeffords: "'Jeezum Jim' should stand as a
warning to his old party: in politics, everybody can win, too. But only
when they work together."
In Time, Washington reporter Karen Tumulty
scolded Bush: "Having run as a centrist who could forge a new
bipartisan middle, Bush __ like Clinton __ started governing in a way that
seemed rather to cater to his party's extreme. Where Clinton had gays in
the military and Hillarycare, Bush had Arctic drilling, global warming, a
Vice President who scoffs at conservation and a hard_right Attorney
General, John Ashcroft."
Do you recall Time criticizing Clinton in 1993
for being too "extreme"?
After noting how White House operatives point
out how Jeffords stuck with the GOP when Reagan tried to kill the
Department of Education but abandoned he party as Bush pushed for more
funding of it, Tumulty countered that Bush had perpetrated a fraud:
"Those arguments ignore the fact that many of Bush's most
conservative agenda items were hidden away in the campaign's fine print
and covered over by his big messages about moderation and helping the
little guy. His compassionate rhetoric masked his conservatism."
In another Time piece, Washington reporter
Douglass Waller, a one-time aide to Massachusetts Democratic Congressman
Ed Markey, lamented how Jeffords' dream of Bush being a "closet
progressive" was shattered:
"When Bush was elected President, Jeffords
hoped that this 'new kind of Republican,' as the Texan liked to call
himself, was actually an old kind of Republican -- a closet progressive in
the mold of Nelson Rockefeller. Jeffords soon realized Bush was nothing of
the kind, as the President catered to his Republican base by appointing
such right-wingers as John Ashcroft as Attorney General and Gale Norton as
A few paragraphs later, Waller relayed how
Jeffords had urged Senator Hillary Clinton "to fight harder" for
more spending. So just who is out of touch with mainstream Republicans?
U.S. News & World Report also saw Bush
moving to the middle as an upside to the Jeffords switch: "The
president will be forced to give voice to the oft stated theme of his
presidential campaign, that he is a 'uniter, not a divider.' That, in
turn, is likely to lead to more moderate positions on a lot of issues and
may have the unexpected benefit of putting Bush more in line with the
votes of the vast swath in the middle of the American electorate."
Now, excerpts from the above quoted articles
in the June 4 editions.
-- Newsweek's subhead over the cover story
by Jonathan Alter with Daniel McGinn, Martha Brant, Eleanor Clift and Alan
Wirzbicki: "For years Jim Jeffords watched the GOP drift to the
right, and now he's had enough. The unlikely rebel whose socks don't
match -- but who's rocking the capital."
He woke up screaming in the middle of the night, yelling to his wife:
"Watch out! The machine guns are firing!" Jim Jeffords's
nightmare then was about impeachment. As a friend of Bill Clinton's, he
was tormented by his duty to sit in judgment of the president, voting
first with his GOP colleagues to move ahead with the trial, then with
Democrats against Clinton's conviction and removal from office.
Two years later the senator's sleepless nights were back. In anguish,
he informed a group of longtime Republican colleagues last week that his
differences with his party on fundamentals were so great that he was
leaning toward leaving the GOP. "It was the most moving meeting
I've ever had with anyone," Jeffords told NEWSWEEK. "There
were tears from me and tears from them because we'd worked so hard on so
many things together. And to know they had dreamed of chairmanships and
now they wouldn't keep them..." Here his already-soft, docile and
unsenatorial voice trails off further....
Independence is increasingly the American way, a growing political
preference among voters weary of simple-minded partisanship. Only inside
the capital is it viewed as disloyal or aberrant to think for oneself. But
rarely has an act of political conscience carried such myriad
Like everything else in hype-addled America, the political
ramifications have been overstated. "Not everyone gets to wake up one
morning and decide an inner voice has told him to overturn the results of
a national election, an unprecedented legal struggle and a decisive
Supreme Court decision to form a government," The Wall Street Journal
editorial page opined, as if the unassuming Vermonter were a craven
Another way to view it is that Jeffords is restoring the true message
sent by the evenly divided electorate last November, which is that the
parties must share power. For the past four months George W. Bush has been
acting as if he had won a Ronald Reagan-style landslide -- a shrewd
political strategy, perhaps, but out of sync with the actual election
returns. Last week's midcourse mandate correction comes early in
Bush's presidency, but late in the key policy struggle that will shape
the future: the 11-year, $1.35 trillion tax cut headed for approval may
well prevent the Democratic Senate from boosting spending beyond the
margins for years to come. Even so, the days of Bush's catering
exclusively to conservatives are apparently over. Every part of his agenda
will now be subject to compromise....
Now comes the fallout. The White House is spreading the word that
Jeffords's decision was about committee perks. That spin wasn't
playing, because it doesn't square with the senator's reputation.
Right-wingers cried betrayal (the New York Post called him "Benedict
Jeffords" on the front page), though that characterization was
conveniently missing from their analysis a few years ago when Sens.
Richard Shelby and Ben Nighthorse Campbell deserted the Democrats. (Sen.
Zell Miller has promised the Democratic leadership that he won't follow
them.) Sen. John McCain, a more vocal maverick than Jeffords, used the
occasion to rebuke his own party for "abusing" his colleague:
"Tolerance of dissent is the hallmark of a mature party, and it is
well past time for the Republican Party to grow up."
But will it? One day each week Jim Jeffords spends his lunch hour
reading aloud to a third grader at a Capitol Hill school. Thanks in part
to the senator, who introduced the program in the Washington area, there
are now hundreds of professionals who do the same, including a half_dozen
other senators. The program is called Everybody Wins. When he resumes his
Senate career on the other side of the aisle this month, "Jeezum
Jim" should stand as a warning to his old party: in politics,
everybody can win, too. But only when they work together.
END Newsweek excerpt
For the complete story, go to: http://www.msnbc.com/news/578808.asp
-- Time's Karen Tumulty in her cover story,
titled, "One Man Earthquake":
How did this happen? Bush was determined not to make his father's fatal
mistake of neglecting the conservative Republican base. Instead, he may
have repeated the near fatal one Bill Clinton made in his first two years
in office. Having run as a centrist who could forge a new bipartisan
middle, Bush -- like Clinton -- started governing in a way that seemed
rather to cater to his party's extreme. Where Clinton had gays in the
military and Hillarycare, Bush had Arctic drilling, global warming, a Vice
President who scoffs at conservation and a hard_right Attorney General,
John Ashcroft. As Jeffords announced his decision to become an
independent, the Senator who traces his family's Republican roots back to
the days of Lincoln said, "Looking ahead, I see more and more
instances where I will disagree with the President on very fundamental
issues -- the issues of choice, the direction of the judiciary, tax and
spending decisions, missile defense, energy and the environment and a host
of other issues, large and small."...
This was no national referendum, Administration officials say, just one
wobbly liberal who decided to walk off the end of the pier -- perhaps,
they suggest, to salvage a chairmanship he was slated to lose in 18 months
under Senate rules. "This is a guy who said he found it impossible to
support an agenda that the President has spent two years talking
about," says Bush strategist Karl Rove. And it is true that on the
issue that Jeffords cares most about -- education -- Bush has moved to the
left, cutting deals with Ted Kennedy and abandoning vouchers. White House
communications director Karen Hughes says Jeffords "was quite
comfortable remaining in the Republican Party when the leaders talked
about abolishing the Department of Education, but he's not comfortable
with a President committed to education."
Those arguments ignore the fact that many of Bush's most conservative
agenda items were hidden away in the campaign's fine print and covered
over by his big messages about moderation and helping the little guy. His
compassionate rhetoric masked his conservatism, but five months of
decision making have pulled off the mask.
If all that has just dawned on Jeffords, he has plenty of company. The
TIME/CNN poll shows public disapproval of the job Bush is doing has
climbed 14 points since early February, to 38%; nearly half of those
polled say they are somewhat or very unlikely to vote for him next time --
about the same percentage that felt that way about Clinton at this point
in his first term....
Though all it took was one Senator to fracture the landscape in the
capital, it will take everyone to put it back together. On Wednesday,
Daschle called Bush, and the two men spoke for the first time since March.
"He expressed his congratulations, and we talked about attempting to
set a new tone and attempting to work together constructively,"
Daschle said. "It was a very nice conversation." And it may have
been a start. Thanks to a stern, quiet man named Jeffords, Bush may
finally have the opportunity to create the kind of Washington he promised
END excerpt of Time's Tumulty.
To read all of her article, go to: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1101010604-128086,00.html
In a second piece, Douglass Waller wrote, in
Moderates don't survive in the Republican Party without a thick skin.
Over the years, the proud, laconic Jeffords had endured countless arm
twistings, cold shoulders and petty slights for taking stands at odds with
his party -- against Ronald Reagan's 1981 tax cut and Clarence Thomas'
Supreme Court nomination, for the Clintons' health-care reform,
minimum-wage hikes and more money for the National Endowment for the Arts.
But by last year, the hostility had begun to wear him down. He was
chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, a post
that could be powerful in promoting his passion for schools, but
conservative G.O.P. upstarts on the panel, such as New Hampshire Senator
Judd Gregg, were constantly maneuvering to undercut Jeffords' authority,
doing things like convening private meetings of the committee's
Republicans and not inviting him. Jeffords complained to Lott, but the
majority leader didn't rein in the right-wingers.
When Bush was elected President, Jeffords hoped that this "new
kind of Republican," as the Texan liked to call himself, was actually
an old kind of Republican -- a closet progressive in the mold of Nelson
Rockefeller. Jeffords soon realized Bush was nothing of the kind, as the
President catered to his Republican base by appointing such right-wingers
as John Ashcroft as Attorney General and Gale Norton as Interior
Secretary. By January, Jeffords was no longer ignoring the casual
entreaties that came from the other side. At that point, Daschle, Reid and
other Democrats made them half jokingly to keep things low key, even
though they were hungry for a defector to break the fifty-fifty split in
Jeffords began withdrawing from his Republican colleagues and finding
Democratic friends more appealing. Some of the "Mod Squad" --
moderate G.O.P. Senators Olympia Snowe, Lincoln Chafee, Susan Collins and
Arlen Specter -- found Jeffords increasingly quiet at the private lunches
they held each week. After Senator Hillary Clinton sat down from
delivering an impassioned floor speech about education funding, Jeffords
stopped at her desk. "I really agree with you," he said.
"We've got to fight harder, so don't get discouraged." But
Jeffords was becoming gloomy....
END excerpt of Time's Waller.
For the entire piece, go to: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1101010604-128085,00.html
-- U.S. News and World Report. An excerpt of a
story by Kenneth T. Walsh, Terence Samuel and Angie Cannon:
The move by the heretofore unassuming -- that being a truly relative
term in the Senate -- James Jeffords, to wrest control from his own party
by declaring himself an independent, was many things. But perhaps a fellow
GOP moderate, Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, labeled it most aptly:
"pure repudiation." Repudiation of a new president, George W.
Bush, who narrowly won the Oval Office but tried to govern as though he
had Ronald Reagan's landslide margins. Rejection of a more conservative
tilt on education funding, the environment, even tax and budget policy.
Rebuff to strong-arm politics and petty indignities....
[Jeffords] predicted that the White House would blame him for its own
lapses. "They've got to spin it somehow," he says. "We're
getting into that, where they're going to come up with all sorts of
rationales that are going to make it look like a selfish-type thing."
He was right. Senior Bush advisers are suggesting that Jeffords simply
got a better deal from the Democrats, that his talk of principle was cover
for the real reasons: power and influence. They advised reporters to
ponder the fact that Jeffords, for example, had remained in the GOP when
party leaders wanted to abolish the Department of Education. The
president, they counter, wants to increase education spending. "You
can draw your own conclusions," says a senior Bush aide.
Bush also insists that he hasn't lurched to the right. "I was
elected to get things done on behalf of the American people," Bush
says, "and to work with both Republicans and Democrats. And we're
doing just that."
Move to the middle. He'll certainly have to now. The president will be
forced to give voice to the oft stated theme of his presidential campaign,
that he is a "uniter, not a divider." That, in turn, is likely
to lead to more moderate positions on a lot of issues and may have the
unexpected benefit of putting Bush more in line with the votes of the vast
swath in the middle of the American electorate.
END U.S. News excerpt
For the whole piece, go to: http://www.usnews.com/usnews/issue/010604/usnews/senate.htm
-- Brent Baker
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