No Liberals In The Filibuster Debate

Documenting and Exposing the Liberal Political Agenda of the New York Times.

No Liberals In The Filibuster Debate

It's a labeling frenzy over the filibuster fight in Wednesday's paper. First up is the front-page story from Robin Toner and Richard Stevenson, "Justice Choice Could Rekindle Filibuster Fight," on what the Senate's compromise over filibusters may mean in case of a Supreme Court vacancy in the near future. It had a stark labeling disparity, with 11 "conservatives" versus just one liberal, including this rather redundant example: "Conservatives were furious over Democratic efforts to keep a handful of conservative nominees to appellate courts from an up-or-down vote on the floor."

Meanwhile, chief political reporter Adam Nagourney explores in a sidebar article the ramifications of the filibuster compromise (disliked by many conservatives) and its ramifications for the Republican party in Election 2008, including the potential fates of three Republican senators weighing a run for the presidency. His 1,000-word story manages to work in 13 "conservatives," with only one mention of "the left," balanced out by a "the right."

For the full story on the filibuster fight from Toner and Stevenson, click here:

For the full Nagourney on the filibuster compromise, click here:

Sen. Rick Santorum, the "Too-Rough Kid on the Playground"

The Times devotes an 8,200 words Sunday Magazine cover story ("The Senator From a Place Called Faith") on Sen. Rick Santorum, conservative of Pennsylvania, showing the senator standing against a green background, eyes staring vaguely heavenward and hands clutched in a sort of semi-devout stance.

The piece's author is Michael Sokolove, a contributing writer for the magazine who last year wrote anarticle on Log Cabin Republicans who were threatening not to support Bush because of his stance on the federal marriage amendment without once mentioning Kerry opposed it as well. Sokolove concluded the gay marriage movement was actually squarely in the conservative tradition: "For now, they just want the status quo: keep the Constitution as it is. Let the states decide and, essentially, leave us alone. Those are good old conservative themes in the tradition of Goldwater and Reagan - and what could be more Republican than that?"

While Sokolove's profile of Santorum is not 100% hostile (he gives him credit for sincerity) the tone suggests he's too ideological for the Senate and gets confirmation of the fact from Democratic dinosaur Sen. Robert Byrd: "Rick Santorum, the boyish-looking 47-year-old senator from Pennsylvania, could not, in more decorous political times, have risen to a position of much power in Congress. He has been impatient and sometimes impertinent - the political equivalent of the too-rough kid on the playground who either doesn't know the rules of the game or just doesn't care to follow them. In the House in the early 1990's, he fell in with a band of junior Republicans (nicknamed the Gang of Seven) who pushed aggressive investigations of both Democrats and Republicans. Elected to the more mannered Senate in 1994, Santorum took to the floor just months into his tenure displaying a sign for several days that read 'Where's Bill?' to spotlight what he perceived as President Clinton's lack of leadership on balancing the federal budget. (Senator Robert Byrd, Democrat of West Virginia, commented that the young senator's style seemed more appropriate for 'an alehouse or beer tavern.')"

Later Sokolove furthers the theme: "Santorum has never entirely shed his image as someone not quite fit for polite political company - he is the senator as hyperactive political pugilist, quick to engage in combat, slow to yield the floor, a little too eager to crush opponents. His instinct runs more toward total victory than to meeting somewhere in the middle. He has become important, a man for the political times, partly because he understands the Senate's courtly veneer as just that - a fiction. He likes to fight from the extremes and disdains political moderation as wishy-washiness. He respects Democrats like Representative Henry Waxman of California; Senator Russell Feingold of Wisconsin; and the late Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota - determined, passionate liberals."

There's more backhanded praise: "Santorum is not cautious in the positions he takes or the language he uses, and to his credit, he rarely backs off statements that, upon seeing print, can seem somewhat bizarre. He is more likely to expand on them. In 2002, in a little-noticed interview that took place in Rome, Santorum told National Catholic Reporter, a U.S.-based weekly, that he considered George W. Bush, a Methodist, to be 'the first Catholic president of the United States.'"

He notes Santorum isn't rich by any means: "Santorum says he does not want his home-state voters to think he feels impoverished on his $162,100 Senate salary, but it is clear that money is a concern and that he is almost certainly one of the least well-off among the 100 senators."

But Sokolove follows that with this questionable look into a personal tragedy in the Santorum family: "In 1999, the family received a malpractice award after Karen Santorum sued a chiropractor in Virginia. She testified that she sought treatment for back pain after childbirth in 1996 and suffered a ruptured disk from an improperly administered spinal manipulation. Santorum has been a vocal critic of large malpractice awards and has backed measures to limit damages. Karen Santorum asked for $500,000 and was awarded $350,000 by a jury. A judge finally reduced the award to $175,000, of which Santorum said they received about $75,000 after their lawyer took his share. 'I'm not against all lawsuits,' Santorum said. 'I think they're appropriate where the case warrants it, and this one did. It was not frivolous.'

"The childbirth in 1996 was a source of terrible heartbreak - the couple were told by doctors early in the pregnancy that the baby Karen was carrying had a fatal defect and would survive only for a short time outside the womb. According to Karen Santorum's book, 'Letters to Gabriel: The True Story of Gabriel Michael Santorum,' she later developed a life-threatening intrauterine infection and a fever that reached nearly 105 degrees. She went into labor when she was 20 weeks pregnant. After resisting at first, she allowed doctors to give her the drug Pitocin to speed the birth. Gabriel lived just two hours."What happened after the death is a kind of snapshot of a cultural divide. Some would find it discomforting, strange, even ghoulish - others brave and deeply spiritual. Rick and Karen Santorum would not let the morgue take the corpse of their newborn; they slept that night in the hospital with their lifeless baby between them. The next day, they took him home. 'Your siblings could not have been more excited about you!' Karen writes in the book, which takes the form of letters to Gabriel, mostly while he is in utero. ''Elizabeth and Johnny held you with so much love and tenderness. Elizabeth proudly announced to everyone as she cuddled you, 'This is my baby brother, Gabriel; he is an angel.' ''

He continues with words from Santorum's many critics: "But what some hear as moral vocabulary is received, by others, as an inundation of religious-tinged policies, legislation and political rhetoric - and in some cases, as an infringement on privacy and the right to live by your own moral code. Barry Lynn, the executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, was almost apoplectic in talking about Santorum. 'He is a very, very radical individual,' he said, 'who wants to impose his religious dogma through law and legislation on everybody in America.'"

It's worth nothing that the "apoplectic" Lynn is a favorite anti-Republican source of David Kirkpatrick, who walks the conservative beat for the Times.Taking a liberal line, Sokolove later suggests it's hypocritical for Santorum to call himself an antipoverty crusader yet be against the minimum wage: "But it is no easy thing to be a low-tax, small-government Republican and an antipoverty crusader.He has sometimes cast votes - as nearly every lawmaker in Washington does amid an atmosphere of gamesmanship and misdirection - that seem inconsistent with his stated principles. Earlier this year, Santorum voted against a Democratic amendment to a bankruptcy bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $7.25, which would seemingly be one of the more efficient ways to get money to poor people."

For the full article on Sen. Santorum, click here:

Holding Out Hope on Rathergate

In Wednesday's corrections box, the Times leaves open the possibility (as it did when the story firstbroke) that the forged documents in Rathergate were legitimate, "correcting" a Monday story by reporter Tom Zeller that had the nerve to state as fact that the forged documents involved in the Dan Rather scandal were, in fact, forged.

"The Link by Link column in Business Day on Monday, about the influence of political Web logs, or blogs, referred incompletely to the documents on which CBS News based a report last year on President Bush's National Guard service, a subject of much blog commentary. Though many experts have said the documents were forgeries, and an independent panel established by CBS determined in January that there were 'serious questions about the authenticity of the documents,' the panel ultimately held that it could not 'conclude with absolute certainty' that they were forged."

(Tom Zeller's Monday Internet column stated: "The CBS News scandal, in which the network based a critical report on President Bush on what turned out to be forged Vietnam-era documents relating to his National Guard days, was another story.")

To read the correction online, click here: