Making an Anti-Bush Tempest Out of the Asian Tsunami
The Times continues to use the tsunami tragedy for political purposes against Bush. The Times' front-page Sunday story from Jane Perlez, "From Heart of Indonesia's Disaster, a Cry for Help," contains this line: "The first American military helicopters pledged by the Bush administration as a key part of the American aid package arrived at the Banda Aceh airport on Saturday and made some deliveries, said Alwi Shihab, the minister for social services. American pledges of aid have risen sharply this week, in the face of local criticism that Washington had done too little to help. Many Indonesians compare the earthquake disaster to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, but note that the death toll here is far greater. Other nations, including Singapore and Australia to the south, got helicopters and medical assistance into Indonesia earlier than the United States."
(A quick glance at an areamap may have provided a clue why - both countries are far closer to the affected area.)
On Sunday, reporter David Sanger again uses a "news analysis" to argue that Bush should use the tragedy to assuage Asia's hurt feelings over the U.S. terror war.
Sanger's piece, headlined, "Aid Summit Talks in Jakarta: U.S. Is Facing a Choice and an Opportunity," notes: "In Indonesia in particular, anti-Americanism has increased. Fairly or unfairly, the negative view of Washington's intentions toward the Islamic world worsened with the Iraq invasion, as Mr. Bush learned during his one visit to Indonesia - a three-hour stop in Bali in 2003. So now, every decision he makes will be examined for what it reveals of American intentions and generosity and for what it says about how American power will be exercised.In his weekly radio address, delivered Saturday morning, Mr. Bush suggested that more was on the way. 'Together, we are leading an international coalition to help with immediate humanitarian relief, rehabilitation and long-term construction efforts,' he said. 'India, Japan and Australia have already pledged to help us coordinate these relief efforts, and I'm confident many more nations will join this core group in short order.'"
The next sentence simply states as fact, without relevant follow-up: "Less certain is whether and how he will use the opportunity to repair some of the damage done in the last three years."
Finally, there's Sanger's front-page story from Saturday, co-written with Warren Hoge, which begins: "President Bush announced Friday that he would increase emergency aid to stricken areas of Asia to $350 million from $35 million, and said the United States would probably add more resources as the scope of what he called an 'epic disaster' became clearer."
Then they work in this detail: "Mr. Bush's ninefold increase in the amount of aid was the second time this week that the United States had committed more money to the effort, and it came after criticism that the president, who has stayed on his 1,600-acre ranch all week and spoken publicly about the disaster once, had reacted too slowly. President Bush reacted angrily on Wednesday to a suggestion from Mr. Egeland that the leading economies of the world had been stingy in providing foreign aid generally, and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell spent much of the week defending the speed with which the United States was responding to the calamity."
Incidentally, U.N.Secretary General Kofi Annan  continued his ski vacation for three days after the tsunami tragedy. Strangely, neither the Times nor the rest of the American media seems to find it particularly bothersome.
For the rest of Perlez on the tsunami aftermath, click here :
For the rest of Sanger's analysis, click here :
For more of Sanger and Hoge from Saturday, click here :
The Times' Take on Robert Novak
Lorne Manly and Adam Liptak's out-of-nowhere story on the Robert Novak-Valerie Plame imbroglio ponders the columnist's public silence in "At Leak Inquiry's Center, a Circumspect Columnist."
. Manly and Liptak begin: "In 41 years as a pundit, Robert D. Novak has rarely shied from controversy. As a syndicated columnist and fixture on cable-news shoutfests, Mr. Novak has opined from the right about some of the biggest stories of his time. He has been a stout cold warrior, a critic of Israeli policies and a passionate defender of military veterans who criticized Senator John Kerry's Vietnam War record. But now Mr. Novak, 73, finds himself a central figure in perhaps the gravest confrontation between the government and the press in a generation, and he has been uncharacteristically circumspect.Mr. Novak's column is not one for grand ideological pronouncements. His stock in trade is whispered inside-the-Beltway tidbits, from an undoubtedly conservative - and sharp - point of view. Outing Ms. Plame, the wife of Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former diplomat who had written an Op-Ed article for The Times the week before that was critical of the Bush administration, was a prime one. Mr. Wilson had written that based on a trip he made to Niger sponsored by the Central Intelligence Agency, he thought some intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program that the administration had relied on as a basis to go to war was 'twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.' Mr. Novak responded in his column: 'Wilson never worked for the C.I.A., but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an agency operative on weapons of mass destruction. Two senior administration officials told me his wife suggested sending Wilson to Niger.'"
Typically, the Times ignores Joe Wilson's  massive credibility problems.
While the Times, as a newspaper, can't exactly criticize Novak's (apparent) refusal to give up his journalistic sources, they find others that do. One Novak critic is ultra-liberal former reporter (and past Novak critic) Geneva Overholser . But while Novak is labeled conservative, Overholser is allowed to serve as an objective critic: "Geneva Overholser, a professor at the University of Missouri School of Journalism and a former ombudsman for The Washington Post, added: 'He's a journalist. If he believes in reporting and truth-telling, it's time he did some of that.'"
The Times does later acknowledge: "Other journalists and legal experts scoff at the idea that Mr. Novak should come forward, and they suggest that some criticism is coming from those on the left who do not like his political leanings."
Manly and Liptak then damn Novak with faint praise: "Although Mr. Novak is a conservative, he does not move in lockstep with the Bush administration. Leading up to the invasion of Iraq, he had been among the most vocal conservatives against the war."
For more of the Times' take on Novak, click here :
Stolberg Meets the Speaker
Sheryl Gay Stolberg profiles House Speaker Dennis Hastert on Monday's front page in "Quietly but Firmly, Hastert Asserts His Power." Though not hostile, the profile of Hastert, a conservative-leaning Republican from Illinois, is a far cry from the soft-soap tone Stolberg employs on liberal Democrats: "If history is any guide, Mr. Hastert will do what he must. That might mean twisting the arms of recalcitrant Republicans, as he did during the Medicare vote, or manipulating House rules to shut out Democrats, or refusing to consider legislation that lacks broad Republican support - 'a majority of the majority,' in Mr. Hastert's words - as he did with the intelligence bill.'My office, yes, I do,' Mr. Hastert replied, without hesitation. He let out a little chuckle. 'It's an imperial we.'"
She does note: "'Imperial" is not a word most people associate with Denny Hastert. His friends and even his Democratic detractors are more apt to use words like 'humble' and 'understated' and 'a regular guy' to describe him."
(Regular Stolberg readers may find that a familiar locution; she wrote some months ago : 'Lightweight' is not an expression anyone would use to describe Tom Daschle.")
But unlike her profiles of Daschle or other Democrats, Stolberg characterizes Hastert in ideological terms, even when she's being complimentary: "Mr. Hastert's political philosophy is firmly conservative; he favors smaller government, less regulation and lower taxes, opposes abortion and gay marriage. Yet he is not a firebrand or a national figure like Mr. DeLay, who calls Mr. Hastert 'a quiet but strong leader.'"
For the rest of Stolberg on Hastert, click here :