1. Only Time noticed the NAACP ad which features James Byrd’s daughter saying George W. Bush "killed" Byrd "all over again" by vetoing a new "hate crimes" law. Reporter Viveca Novak left that line out.
2. In their last chance to influence the voters, Newsweek tilted readers leftward in their "Voters Panic Guide," and former
U.S. News editor Roger Rosenblatt lectured the undecided: "are you kidding?" Undecided voters "focus on nonsense. They tilt toward Bush in the debates out of some adolescent response to powerlessness and ineptitude."
3. Rush and Ralph are wrong? Time’s Steve Lopez cynically rebutted a passionate Bush voter’s assertion that "Rush is right."
Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter warned Nader voters they could create a Bush presidency, which "will be essentially subcontracted to exactly those corporate interests that Naderites believe are threatening our democracy."
4. In balancing one-page articles on the candidates’ political pasts, Newsweek’s Howard Fineman suggested Bush was rolled by Texas Democrats, while Bill Turque huffed that "not a shred of evidence" shows Al Gore dangled his Gulf War vote for more TV time.
5. Time’s Clintonite columnist Margaret Carlson swooned that between Bill and Hill, "there seemed to be something more than naked ambition at work." In
U.S. News, Roger Simon found Tipper Gore, who told people not to vote as if the election were The Dating Game, is replaying the Kiss at rallies.
For the covers of the November 6 editions, Time and Newsweek each featured both major presidential contenders: Time just presented large faces and the headline "The Choice." Newsweek used sweatier, less favorable faces pasted on hanging men in suits with the headline "Cliffhanger." U.S. News & World Report wallowed in formula with "Career Guide 2001: How to Master the New Workplace." In the opinion columns, a face-off over the future of the Supreme Court: U.S. News man John Leo pleads for "No more stealth candidates like Souter, please. And no more drifting O’Connors, either." Newsweek’s Anna Quindlen hailed "Strange New Respect" judicial picks "who rise to the great occasion of their appointment and who grow during their tenure on the bench. By contrast Scalia and Thomas appear to have ossified, trapped in the amber, and the animus, of unrelenting ideology. Yet these two are what the Republican nominee considers paragons. (He brushes off questions about David Souter, his father’s most collegial and productive nominee, who has disappointed by deciding cases on their merits.)" More of the same odd notion that the ideological bookends of today’s court are the ultraconservatives and the reasonable moderates. She concluded: "We already have two branches of government hopelessly balkanized by political ideology. There is no need to create a third."
Only Time noticed the NAACP ad which features James Byrd’s daughter saying George W. Bush "killed" Byrd "all over again" by vetoing a new "hate crimes" law. Viveca Novak left that line out. She explained: "The music is ominous, the footage grainy: a pickup truck with Texas plates, a chain tied to the bumper, something unseen hooked to the other end as the truck pulls away. The voice is that of James Byrd Jr.'s daughter, recalling her father's 1998 death and George W. Bush's refusal to back a new hate-crimes bill. The kicker: ‘We won't be dragged away from our future.’"
After the 1988 election, Time fulminated that Lee Atwater’s "crypto-racist" Willie Horton ads "fouled the civic atmosphere of politics." He is still the magazine’s poster boy for late hits: "Atwater, the late maestro of hardball politics, had rules about down-and-dirty campaign advertising, chiefly this: If you have to do it, do it late. So right on schedule, gut-punching ads hit the airwaves last week in the handful of ground-zero states as both parties, and their sympathetic special-interest groups, worked to boost turnout among the faithful — or drive it down."
Novak didn’t seem to press the NAACP for comparisons to Willie Horton, or ask whether lumping Bush in with racist murderers was fair: "The Byrd ad, running in 10 states where black voter turnout could make the difference, is part of a $2 million–plus campaign by the NAACP National Voter Fund. The group said it had always planned to replace the ad with a less graphic version. But Heather Booth, the group's executive director, makes no apologies. ‘Sometimes the truth hurts,’ she says."
From there, Novak moved on to the conservative ads, the small-buy "Daisy" ripoff ad and the "Americans Against Hate" ad linking Gore to Al Sharpton. "Not to worry: The other side has something shocking of its own."
In their last chance to influence the voters, Newsweek tilted readers leftward in their "Voters Panic Guide," while the Time and U.S. News voter guides were more carefully balanced. Not all the items were tilted, just three in particular, on foreign intervention, defense, and gun control.
On foreign intervention, Michael Hirsh worried Bush "wants to withdraw from NATO peacekeeping, scrap the Comprehensive Test Ban treaty and install a major missile defense program, moves that would likely estrange Washington from its key allies. Gore, meanwhile, has tried to redefine the entire national-security agenda, stressing the social and economic instability that might come from environmental disaster, AIDS, or the gulf between rich and poor nations. But he sets no clear priorities – perhaps because it may be impossible to do so in the post-cold-war era."
On defense, John Barry insisted "Bush’s charge that the Clinton administration has sent underfinanced divisions to meet overstretched commitments...is largely a myth. Claims of a threefold increase in deployments under Clinton come from a misread congressional report." Barry concluded that "Whoever wins, the military faces cuts....Here Bush appears the radical. Looking to predicted advances in computers, sensors, and communications, he would ‘skip’ a generation of weapons and instead push toward the truly revolutionary generation after next. That, says Gore, would be to gamble on uncertain future technologies."
On guns, Matt Bai continued his string of badly disguised jeremiads for gun control. He focused largely on Bush’s positions and "his cozy relationship with the National Rifle Association. As governor, he signed a law that allows citizens to carry concealed weapons, then expanded it to permit guns in churches and hospitals." Bai concluded with liberal despair that no one could satisfy his itch for progress: "No matter who’s elected, the prospects for any real progress aren’t promising. Congress hasn’t even been able to nail down an agreement on the need for background checks at gun shows. Bush won’t force the issue. And there’s little chance that Gore could wage a fight for gun licensing during a first term, let alone get it passed."
Time featured battling one-page commentaries arguing for Bush and Gore: for Bush, former speechwriter Peggy Noonan; and for Gore, former U.S. News editor Roger Rosenblatt, who oozed contempt for Bush or anyone dumb enough to support him: "I mean no disrespect to the Undecideds or the occasionally Decideds, or to the non-Republican faithful who have come to the conclusion that George W. Bush should be president of the United States. But, are you kidding?" He lectured that undecided voters "focus on nonsense. They tilt toward Bush in the debates out of some adolescent response to powerlessness and ineptitude. They tilt away from Gore because he appears to know that he's intellectually superior to and more civic-minded than his opponent. He is. My fellow Americans: It's not about likability. It's about who keeps the checklist, who flies the plane."
Rosenblatt’s snooty superiority isn’t any more likable than Gore’s.
Rush and Ralph are wrong? Time reporter Steve Lopez visited with undecided voters in central Florida. The only passionate supporter of a candidate he found couldn’t wait to vote for Bush. "I listen to Rush Limbaugh all the time...And Rush is right. Do you know what I mean? Rush is right."
Lopez responded: "No, Matthew. Don Fletcher is right. ‘Kakistocracy. Are you familiar with that word?’ Fletcher asked while nursing his coffee at the Bill O' Fare. ‘It means government by the worst elements. We've got a failed drug war the candidates won't talk about, and we bombed an aspirin factory in Sudan because Bill was [dallying with] Monica. It doesn't matter whether you vote Republican or Democratic. Nothing will change because the government is run by big-money interests.’"
Sounds like a pair of Nader voters.
They better hide from Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter. He mildly suggested St. Ralph was committing ideological suicide. He began with an idea of what attracted Newsweek’s hiring team to him: "When I was 22 years old, I spent the summer of 1980 working for Ralph Nader. My job was to write part of a book about the campaign that year. (I was responsible for chronicling third-party candidate John Anderson.) For all of our lacerations of Jimmy Carter, we understood that a vote for Anderson was a vote for Ronald Reagan. Even then, I disagreed with Nader on several issues (starting with his unshakable faith in lawyers and regulators). But I developed a deep respect for his leadership of the consumer movement. Last year, when several lists were published of the most important Americans of the 20th century, Nader’s name was rightfully included. Bill Clinton’s was not."
That was the end of the nice talk. Alter lays it one the line: "Naderites should have persuaded their man to run in the Democratic primaries...Instead, he risks being marginalized by angry fellow progressives and remembered by history as a spoiler. That would overshadow all he has accomplished."
Alter warned that a Bush presidency would do great damage to liberalism, just as Reagan did: "Nader voters are under the illusion that a Bush era is somehow harmless to them – a mere interlude to rally their cause. Many were in grade school when Reagan was president and forget the consequences for progressive causes. It would be one thing if Bush were brilliant but lazy – thick but hardworking. But he is neither brilliant nor hardworking, which means that the presidency will be essentially subcontracted to exactly those corporate interests that Naderites believe are threatening our democracy. That reminds me of the logic of those who extended the Vietnam War, courtesy of Nixon and his unwitting allies on the left: ‘We had to destroy the village in order to save it.’ America has tried that, Ralph. It doesn’t work."
In balancing one-page articles on the candidates’ political pasts, Newsweek’s Howard Fineman suggested Bush was rolled by Texas Democrats, while Bill Turque huffed that "not a shred of evidence" shows Al Gore dangled his Gulf War vote for more TV time. Fineman explored a tax-cut bill that Bush had to water down: "Bush and Bullock (who died in 1999) remained fond friends. But it was clear to observers who was boss. Visiting the governor’s office on another matter, Bullock smiled and pointed to his allies in the room. ‘Governor, we’re going to screw you on this one,’ he said. Bush chuckled, got up from his chair and walked to the corner of the office. ‘Well, you’re going to have to come over here and kiss me first,’ Bush joked. Bullock laughed, but didn’t move, and got his way in the end.
Fineman’s colleague and Gore biographer Bill Turque played defense for Al Gore with a story on Gore’s thoughtful, hawkish decision to back the Gulf War. There’s no messy focus on his touting "Iraqgate" allegations against President Bush in 1992 as "worse than Watergate," or the gutting of his own 1992 arms-dealing bill in a secret deal with Russian prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. Turque played up Gore’s savvy Gulf War vote, adding late in the piece with a huff: "One thing Gore didn’t look for was a deal with Republicans. Sen. Alan Simpson has long alleged that Gore offered his vote in exchange for a prime speaking slot. But there is not a shred of evidence to support the charge. ‘Scurrilous is the word that comes to mind,’ said
Time’s Clintonite columnist Margaret Carlson is mystified Gore is hiding the Genius of Our Time: "Too bad Al Gore has put his party's most potent weapon in a lockbox. Too bad for Democrats there's a 22nd Amendment that keeps Clinton from running again; in a speech after the debates, Clinton gave a far more lucid rebuttal than Gore, and without the sighing. His job-approval rating surpasses Ronald Reagan's in his final days."
Hold tight on the roller coaster ride in Margaret’s mind. The woman who rhapsodized in 1993 that the Clintons "touch each other more in two hours than the Bushes did in four years" went sour on Bill in 1998, urging Hillary to throw his stuff out on the lawn. Now, it’s back to inklings of Love Story: "Clinton wiped away a tear at the height of the festivities while Hillary feigned surprise with the trademark raised eyebrow and shocked ‘Oooh’ when spotting a familiar face in a room full of them. Yet, against all you think you know, when they hugged, there seemed to be something more than naked ambition at work." Please.
She concluded with very early cheers for President Hillary: "Just as Bush is avenging his father's defeat, Clinton may see his best chance of redeeming himself not with a Gore in the White House, but with a Clinton."
On the subject of marital displays, Tipper Gore announced at a Democratic rally that people shouldn’t vote for Bush because "this isn’t The Dating Game." But it’s the Gore camp that’s gone back to playing the Lovebird Card, discovered U.S. News reporter Roger Simon:
"At most stops, he is introduced by his wife, Tipper, who goes through a list of concerns designed to appeal to women while also raising the fear of what will happen if Republicans gain the White House. ‘We have to protect the right to choose,’ she says. ‘We need more money for breast cancer research. They will take us backward into the Dark Ages.’ She then points out how her husband volunteered for military service in Vietnam and, while running for president, also managed to attend all of their son's football games. At the end, she introduces Gore, who hugs and kisses her. This time, however, as Tipper is speaking, Gore steadily advances on her to the enormous delight of the audience. ‘I'm ready!’ he shouts. Tipper turns around and gives him both a startled and bemused look. ‘Oh, yeah?’ she says. Gore plants an open-mouth kiss on her as the crowd goes wild. Tipper breaks away from his clinch to turn back to the microphone, and Gore shouts, ‘It wasn't long enough!’ Tipper wisely leaves that line alone and says to him, ‘We don't have time! We need every vote!’
At least back in the Dark Ages, we weren’t subject to stage-managed tongue hockey.
– Tim Graham