1. Newsweek’s "Conventional Wisdom" box praised David Letterman’s tough questioning of George W. Bush when he appeared on the
Late Show. "Shames press corps with grilling of Dubya. He should have been debate moderator."
2. Time’s Margaret Carlson equated more government spending with love as she slammed Bush’s feel-good politics and his record in Texas: "when he’s not falsely claiming credit, he is glossing over the details of what it would really take to deliver love – say, in the form of prescription drugs – to ordinary Americans."
3. Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter kept claiming Bush lies are far more serious than Al Gore’s. "In fact, Bush vetoed such a bill, and the right to sue HMOs passed without his help or signature. All in all, a much more serious fib than anything Gore has said."
4. In the "Washington Whispers" section of U.S. News, Senator John Kerry assaulted Bush’s intelligence by using the Miss America pageant. "On the one hand, he was shocked to find out there are 50 states. On the other hand, he loves the fact that America still prizes looks over brains." But how did candidate Kerry do on his own Boston reporter quiz?
On the covers of this week’s newsmagazines: Time investigated "Early Puberty: Why Girls Are Growing Up Faster." Newsweek plugged the Subway Series between the Yankees and Mets. U.S. News asked "Do Animals Have Feelings?"
Newsweek’s "Conventional Wisdom" awarded Bush a half-hearted up arrow with the caption, "Now a master at clearing low hurdles. But presidents don’t get marked on a curve." Gore receives a sideways arrow while receiving this helpful advice from CW: "Afraid to run on the past, he downplays achievements. It’s the economy, stupid." President Clinton also receives an up arrow with Newsweek engaging in a bit of Clinton nostalgia: "With every debate it’s clear these guys don’t measure up. Let him help you, Al..." David Letterman received an up arrow for his tough questioning of George W. Bush’s appearance on the Late Show. With a backhanded slap at Jim Lehrer, the caption reads "Shames press corps with grilling of Dubya. He should have been debate moderator." CW didn’t mention Letterman’s softballs to Gore over his "moments of joy" as Vice President.
Time’s "Winners & Losers" typically found liberal Winners and conservative Losers. The "loser" was William Archer: "Texas health commissioner blasted for race remarks. Never got the compassion memo, pal?" Winners were Martin Sheen – "West Wing Prex sees ratings soar. But can liberal show survive a W. administration? – and Richard Gephardt – "Mr. Speaker? House takeover looks good for Dems as GOP stalls on end-of-session work."
The specter of a Gore defeat is continuing to haunt Time’s Margaret Carlson. In her latest article, Carlson keeps up her act as a Gore campaign megaphone with attacks on Bush’s promise to end partisan bickering in Washington. The article reveals what Margaret’s concept of love is and, just for fun, she includes another gratuitous swipe at Ronald Reagan. She whined: "In the last debate, Bush took credit for passing a bill allowing patients to sue HMOs, when he actually fought it. But when he’s not falsely claiming credit, he is glossing over the details of what it would really take to deliver love – say, in the form of prescription drugs – to ordinary Americans. He seeks refuge in the mantra, ‘I trust the people, not the government.’ This sounds harmless, but in Texas it translates into trusting corporate solutions. So far, this has resulted in record-breaking dirty air in Houston and children uninsured at an alarmingly high rate. (At the federal level, in the Reagan Administration, eschewing mandatory government standards for voluntary ones led to Firestone tires flying off
Carlson was matched by Lance Morrow, who’s been largely confined to the Time Web site. Morrow declared of Gore, "He should be well ahead of George W. Bush by now. He should be on cruise control, barreling down the interstate toward an electoral inevitability. He should have won all three debates by knockout or unanimous decision, exercising his famous command of fact and argument. He should be the unarguable favorite in this race--the Expected One. Instead ... he remains locked in a too-close-to-call race against a nice enough fellow from Texas and Yale whose mind, even in the midst of a presidential debate, seems to behave like a marathon runner at the 24-mile mark--struggling, panting for coherence."
Morrow thinks Gore lacks the President’s talent, and compares them to classical composers: "there in the Oval Office sits the Mozart from Arkansas, the natural, the casually smutty debaucher of interns who is also the political genius of our time. So, the dilemma: Does Salieri, seeing that he is losing the audience, invite Mozart to join the tour?"
Morrow insisted: Americans have demonstrated an interesting maturity (or a disgusting moral slackness, depending on your point of view) in their willingness to separate Clinton's squalid personal behavior from his official stewardship. Right now, their biggest fear is that the Clinton years are going to go away; they suffer from abandonment anxiety. Therefore: Brag on the Clinton years! Promise more of the same! Bring Clinton out to brag on you! He's a narcissist, to be sure, but the smartest one in America. He knows what has to be done."
Reporters John Dickerson and Tamala Edwards are also mystified by Gore’s lack of Bubba-boosting: "Strangely, Gore has not been able to parry this charge that Washington under the Clinton-Gore years has become a do-nothing bickerfest, in large part because he refuses to highlight the administration's litany of achievements."
Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter must be sharing notes with Margaret Carlson because he too debunks Bush’s claim to have pushed for a patient’s right to sue their HMO in his continuing role as Gore defender. "Gore, meanwhile, managed to turn what was supposed to be his strongest suit–debating–into a liability. Even the St. Louis debate, his best, was not so great. For instance, early on, Bush told a whopper, ‘I brought Republicans and Democrats together (in Texas) to get a patients’ bill of rights through.’ In fact, Bush vetoed such a bill, and the right to sue HMOs passed without his help or signature. All in all, a much more serious fib than anything Gore has said."
Matt Bai devoted a Web exclusive to how all politicians exaggerate, but most of the article still focused on Gore. He found one phony Bill Bradley story, a carefully attributed John McCain story, and a replay of Alter’s claim that Reagan "confused his war movies with the real thing." Newsweek advertised this in the print addition with a picture of Reagan, not Bill Bradley.
In the "Washington Whispers" section of U.S. News, Senator John Kerry assaulted Bush’s intelligence by using the Miss America pageant. Paul Bedard wrote: "Call it the Boston Massacre Part II: Revenge of the Nerds. From the get-go, the Harvard Yard set has called into question the smarts of Gov. George W. Bush. Who can forget the Boston TV guy who stumped Bush with a foreign-policy pop quiz? And now certified Bay State brainiacs are building on that theme with hopes of planting seeds of doubt about Bush in the minds of undecided voters, they tell Whispers. It's dubbed the ‘10-second voter’ theory: Once inside the booth, when the significance of the election overtakes voters, they'll choose the valedictorian over the class cutup. One Minuteman promoter is Sen. John Kerry, who uses humor to make his point that Bush is more like Homer than Lisa Simpson. For example, on the night of the Miss America pageant, he told a North Carolina crowd: ‘The entire Miss America contest is a dilemma for the Republican nominee. On the one hand, he was shocked to find out there are 50 states. On the other hand, he loves the fact that America still prizes looks over brains."
(By the way, this isn’t new for Kerry: In November of 1988, the Boston Globe noted Kerry joked "The Secret Service is under orders that if Bush is shot, to shoot Quayle.")
But Bedard missed what the MRC’s Rich Noyes remembered: Kerry had Boston quiz trouble of his own, from Andy Hiller, the same "Boston TV guy" who quizzed Bush. An April 4, 1984 Associated Press story reported: "None of the seven candidates for the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Paul Tsongas came up Tuesday night with the correct answers during the quiz on Boston station WBZ. Reporter Andy Hiller asked if they knew the amount of the U.S. defense budget and the countries in which cruise missiles were being deployed. Hiller said the correct answers were $258 billion and Great Britain, Italy and West Germany." The previous night, Rep. Ed Markey couldn’t name the prime minister of Israel.
There’s a good reason voters shouldn’t take Democrats complaining about dumb Republicans too seriously.
– Paul Smith