Kiss All Guns Goodbye; Democrats Fight for the Left; Ignoring Clinton Scandal News
1. Time’s cover story package on the Atlanta shootings featured Roger Rosenblatt’s call for the abolition of guns in America. "I think the country has long been ready to restrict the use of guns, except for hunting rifles and shotguns, and now I think we're prepared to get rid of the damned things entirely -- the handguns, the semis and the automatics."
2. Campaign 2000 Roundup: Time advised Bush to keep tax cuts focused on the poor;
U.S. News contrasted strait-laced young Al Gore to young drunk George W.; and
Newsweek found Gore and Bradley fighting over the Democrats’ left-wing base.
3. Newsweek puffed House Speaker Denny Hastert -- revealing he "still has coffee with buddies at the auto-body shop and slurps strawberry shakes after dinner" -- and suspected nuclear spy Wen Ho Lee, who "spends his days listening to Mozart and reading 19th-century French novels."
4. New Clinton scandal details were mostly ignored, including Judge Susan Webber Wright’s $90,000 fine for Clinton’s lying under oath, and the indictment of Linda Tripp. Only
U.S. News devoted an article to Tripp, and mentioned the $90,000 fine in that story: "Judge Wright reflected the zeitgeist. She declared that ‘[t]he court...no doubt like many others, grows weary of this matter.’"
Despite the cable-news frenzy, only Time led with "The Atlanta Massacre" on its August 9 cover. Newsweek featured "The New Age of Cosmetic Surgery." Over at U.S. News & World Report, the cover story was "Inside the Teen Brain." Apparently, adult deaths are much less newsworthy than kids shooting kids.
Time’s cover story package on the Atlanta shootings featured essayist Roger Rosenblatt’s call for the abolition of guns in America. Rosenblatt, the former top editor at U.S. News and current commentator on the (Who us? Liberal?) PBS NewsHour, called not for more gun control, but for the abrogation of the Second Amendment in "Get Rid of the Damn Things."
Rosenblatt averred: "As terrible as last week's shooting in Atlanta was, as terrible as all the gun killings of the past few months have been, one has the almost satisfying feeling that the country is going through the literal death throes of a barbaric era and that mercifully soon, one of these monstrous episodes will be the last. High time. My guess, in fact, is that the hour has come and gone -- that the great majority of Americans are saying they favor gun control when they really mean gun banishment...I think the country has long been ready to restrict the use of guns, except for hunting rifles and shotguns, and now I think we're prepared to get rid of the damned things entirely -- the handguns, the semis and the automatics. "
So much for the Second Amendment. As for that particularly meddlesome part of the Constitution, Rosenblatt does concede: "As for the Second Amendment, it may pose an inconvenience for gun-control advocates, but no more an inconvenience than the First Amendment offers those who blame violence on movies and television."
Rosenblatt thought that while conservative Republicans like Tom DeLay remain hopelessly out of touch on the gun issue, "A more representative representative of public feeling on this issue is New York's Carolyn McCarthy, whom gun violence brought into politics when her husband was killed and her son grievously wounded by a crazed shooter on a Long Island Rail Road train in 1993. McCarthy made an emotional, sensible and ultimately ineffectual speech in the House in an effort to get a stronger measure passed."
Rosenblatt wrapped up by comparing gun-banners to the civil rights movement: "Lasting social change usually occurs when people decide to do something they know they ought to have done long ago but have kept the knowledge private. This, I believe, is what happened with civil rights, and it is happening with guns. I doubt that it will be 25 years before we're rid of the things. In 10 years, even five, we could be looking back on the past three decades of gun violence in America the way one once looked back upon 18th century madhouses. I think we are already doing so but not saying so."
Campaign 2000 Roundup. Time White House correspondent James Carney highlighted George W. Bush’s economic policy in an article titled "Bush’s Tax Tango: He wants to please rich Republicans and keep his pledge to be compassionate. Can he pull it off?" Carney asserted distancing Bush from congressional Republicans was crucial: "At 10 A.M. E.T. last Thursday, nine of the nation's top conservative economists stopped what they were doing, placed a call to the same telephone number and spent the next 90 minutes debating how to save George W. Bush from his own party."
Carney described the economists’ task: "to satisfy the Republican Party faithful's lust for tax cuts while making good on Bush's promise to be a ‘compassionate conservative.’ That means a plan that does more than bestow a huge tax rebate on the wealthiest Americans." Carney suggested that unlike congressional Republicans, Bush actually seems to care about tax relief for middle income Americans and even -- sit down for this -- the poor! Carney concluded Bush could remain compassionate only if he eschewed being too conservative: "A tax plan that helps low-income Americans goes deep into Democratic territory and sounds like the perfect policy component to fit Bush's centrist rhetoric."
U.S. News reporter Kenneth T. Walsh looked at Bush and Gore’s relationships with their fathers. While Walsh relayed that "Friends in Tennessee blame young Albert’s current remoteness from voters on his strait-laced upbringing in the capital," Bush was known as something of wild man in his day: "He spent his young adulthood in a rather aimless stroll, known as a good-time drinker and skirt chaser who was neither a big success nor a total failure." While Gore, "the young enlisted man appeared -- in uniform -- with his father at campaign events," Bush, "in his mid-20s, showed up at his parents’ house drunk, and when his father complained, he balled his hands into fists and challenge his dad to ‘go mano a mano’ (a fight that never materialized)."
Gore’s father, defeated in 1970, was a good man done in by voters opposed to his stand against the Vietnam war and his courageous stands on race. Walsh conspicuously forgot to mention he once voted against the Civil Rights Act: "[Al Gore Sr.’s] character seemed beyond reproach; he never descended, for example, into the racial demagoguery prevalent in the South during his heyday."
In "A War Over Who Controls the Left," Newsweek’s Howard Fineman examined Al Gore’s efforts to lock up the liberal base of the Democratic Party in lieu of a spirited challenge by Bill Bradley. Unlike 1992, there will likely be no Sister Souljah moment in the Democratic Party although there could be one on the Republican side: "Rather than moving away from what's left of the Democratic left, he's [Gore’s] being forced to embrace it, conspicuously. The AFL-CIO and Jackson's Rainbow Coalition are meeting in Chicago this week, and Gore and his allies will be openly begging for support -- not looking to pick a fight. On the Republican side, meanwhile, Gov. George W. Bush is pulling the Sister Souljah. Flush with money and momentum, he has refused to embrace a hard-right agenda. His loudest antagonists in next week's Iowa straw poll are ardent pro-lifers, villains in the eyes of many moderates." Fineman uniquely focused on how the Democrats are running to the left of Clinton, even if they’re pandering to "what’s left of the left" while the Republicans fight over the "hard right."
Bradley is predictably positioned as a moderate by Fineman: "The cause of Gore's predicament is as irritating (to Gore) as it is obvious: Bill Bradley. The former New Jersey senator is no raging liberal, and he has yet to offer a menu of specific panders." This for the man who hit the weekend talk shows to talk about repealing welfare reform.
Fineman concluded by making Newsweek the only news magazine to mention Gore’s New England canoeing gaffe: "Gore can't even catch a break when he's working the base. Seeking to impress environmentalists recently, he paddled a canoe down the Connecticut River to advertise a new federal cleanup grant. Great news for greens? Well, no. As the whole (political) world knows, his river dance turned into the photo op from hell. The authorities -- without Gore's knowledge -- sped up the release of 100 million gallons of water into the river. Their aim was to assure him a smooth ride. It wasn't, and, for Al Gore, it may never be."
Newsweek puffed House Speaker Denny Hastert -- and suspected spy Wen Ho Lee. While Newsweek bashed Newt Gingrich days before the 1994 sweep (One photo was captioned "RADICAL GEEK"), Matt Bai praised Hastert for his unassuming manner and nice guy image: "As Congress wraps up its session this week, there are signs that Hastert is growing into the job. By pulling together enough of his party's warring House factions to pass a $792 billion tax cut, he gave new life to what Bill Clinton had hoped would be a ‘do-nothing’ Congress... Hastert never asked for the top job before Newt Gingrich and Bob Livingston resigned in quick succession last winter. Party ideologues trusted Hastert's strongly conservative voting record; moderates liked his inclusive style. A tireless listener, the speaker is less likely to bully opponents than to draw them near and cajole them. He retains a fondness for coaches' metaphors."
Bai concluded that in spite of the fact that he remains third in line for the presidency, the former high school wrestling coach hasn’t let success go to his head: "Returning home to his wife every month, he still has coffee with buddies at the auto-body shop and slurps strawberry shakes after dinner. He unwinds by mowing his three acres and cleaning his antique Lincolns. Anonymity is fine with him. ‘History will record whether we did our job or not,’ Hastert says. If he does it well, history may even remember his name."
In the magazine’s "Periscope" section, Newsweek bemoaned the fate of suspected spy Wen Ho Lee, who "spends his days listening to Mozart and reading 19th-century French novels. Sometimes he putters in his garden or does odd jobs around the house. He avoids reading newspapers or watching the news. But the FBI agents in government-issue sedans parked outside his New Mexico home are a constant reminder of his ordeal." Newsweek relayed that he can’t even steal away for a fishing trip without being tailed. The brief concluded with a "Justice official" saying "If we don’t have the goods on espionage, the question is, why are we doing this at all?"
Intelligence experts suggest this is the worst nuclear espionage case since the Rosenbergs. Would Newsweek have complained about their inability to fish alone?
New Clinton scandal details were mostly ignored, including the $90,000 fine for Clinton’s lying under oath, and the indictment of Linda Tripp. The Tripp indictment was confined to a down arrow in Newsweek’s "Conventional Wisdom Watch" (CW also mentioned Clinton’s fine -- and gave him a sideways arrow.) Time had no Clinton-fine story, but named Tripp a "Loser of the Week." Only U.S. News devoted an article to Tripp, and mentioned the $90,000 fine in that story. Franklin Foer detailed Linda Tripp’s indictment in Maryland for tape recording conversations with Monica Lewinsky and lamented "Will the Monica Lewinsky hullaballoo ever fade into the history books?" Foer found "The scandal has sucked in and devastated everyone in its path -- with the notable exception of President Clinton, the man who kicked off the whole sordid story." Foer did note Clinton may face disbarment in Arkansas, but concluded: "And while lawyers busied themselves preparing briefs, Judge Wright reflected the zeitgeist. She declared that ‘[t]he court... no doubt like many others, grows weary of this matter.’"
The news magazines are so scandal-weary that they’ve never touched another Tripp-related privacy issue: the Pentagon’s improper leak of her confidential personnel file to The New Yorker magazine.
-- Mark Drake
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