This Just in From the Obama White House

Plus Tea Party Racism and Disappearing Republican Moderates
This Just in From the Obama White House

"Sometimes lost in the partisan clamor about the new health care law is the profound relief it is expected to bring to hundreds of thousands of Americans who have been stricken first by disease and then by a Darwinian insurance system. On Thursday, the six-month anniversary of the signing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a number of its most central consumer protections take effect, just in time for the midterm elections." - Health reporter Kevin Sack in a story with the cheerleading headline "For Many Families, Health Care Relief Begins Today," September 23.

Tea Party Racism, Part 1

"To talk about states' rights in the way some Tea Partiers did was to pretend that the twentieth century and the latter half of the nineteenth century had never happened, that the country had not rejected this doctrine over and over. It was little wonder that people heard the echo of the slave era and decided that the movement had to be motivated by racism." - From the book "Boiling Mad: Inside Tea Party America," by Times reporter Kate Zernike.

Tea Party Racism, Part II

"It was difficult, if not disingenuous, for the Tea Party groups to try to disown the behavior. They had organized the rally, and under their model of self-policing, they were responsible for the behavior of people who were there. And after saying for months that anybody could be a Tea Party leader, they could not suddenly dismiss as faux Tea Partiers those protesters who made them look bad." - From the book "Boiling Mad: Inside Tea Party America," by Times reporter Kate Zernike.

Disappearing Republican Moderates, Part I

Sam Roberts: "Right, it may be tough for more mainstream Republicans to reconcile [Tea Party spending cut calls]."

Jackie Calmes: "I don't think there are many of those left, Sam, and there's gonna be fewer of them once this election is held. Some of them have already lost in the primaries to the Tea Party wing." - Exchange on the September 9 "Political Points" podcast at

Disappearing Republican Moderates, Part II

"The few remaining Republican centrists in the Senate were eagerly awaiting the arrival of Michael N. Castle of Delaware, a longtime and reliable moderate voice who could provide some counterbalance to the wave of conservatives poised to enter Congress and the steadily rightward shift of party leaders. But Mr. Castle was defeated in his party primary on Tuesday by Christine O'Donnell, a Tea Party insurgent. And while the conservative wing rejoiced, the surprise outcome raised serious questions about the future place in the party of lawmakers like Senators Olympia J. Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine and other Republicans in the Senate and House who are not lock-step conservatives." - David Herszenhorn and Carl Hulse, September 20.

Exposing Communists Lumped in With Anti-Semitism as Historical Betrayals

"This news cast a shadow over perceptions of his work, but should it, any more than Picasso's deep misogyny or Caravaggio's murderous temper has over theirs? Any more than T. S. Eliot's anti-Semitism or Rimbaud's probable connection to the African slave trade has over their poetry? Or in an example with closer parallels to Withers, should we think 'On the Waterfront' a lesser movie, or even see it in a different light, because it was directed and written by two men, Elia Kazan and Budd Schulberg, who named names before the House Un-American Activities Committee?" - Arts reporter Randy Kennedy on the front page of the Sunday Week in Review of September 26, regarding revelations that civil rights photographer Ernest Withers had a double life as an FBI informant.

Tea Party All About 'Us vs. Them' (Poor, Blacks, Illegals, etc.)

Kate Zernike: " will see, you will find a chapter in my book that does goes into the history and actually starts earlier in 1964 with the Goldwater campaign and I think it does lead into Wallace. But I do have a chapter in the book about the history of the Tea Party movement and as I said earlier, we do see roots of this not only in the George Wallace campaign but also in the tax revolts of the seventies and late, and the early-eighties."

C-SPAN Host Susan Swain: "But when Wallace comes into the picture, what overtone does that bring to their stance, I mean that's where you get...?"

Zernike: "Absolutely, that's where you get the race question coming in. And I think, I think, there is, I think whenever, and this is why people again have trouble separating race and the Tea Party movement, because there is this feeling of, 'We want to keep ours,' and there is very much an 'Us vs. Them,' and when you talk about 'them,' it always brings up, 'the them' are the poor, the disadvantaged, blacks, etc. And now I would say illegal immigrants as well." - An exchange during Kate Zernike's September 10 appearance on C-SPAN's "Washington Journal," after a caller argued the 1968 presidential campaign of Southern segregationist governor George Wallace marked the roots of the Tea Party movement.

Too Soon to Grade Obama on Economy?

Nancy Youssef, McClatchy Newspapers: "So how would you rank or rate the administration on its economic policy? Can you give it a rating this soon, or is it too early to say?"

Jackie Calmes: "Well, it's too early to say when unemployment remains stuck at 9.5 percent. Most people think that - most economists who aren't partisan think we will avoid a double-dip recession, but, and that the stimulus did work, but it, you know - maybe should have been more of it, or better designed." - Exchange on the September 24 edition of the PBS talk show Washington Week.

Oliver Stone Not Left-Wing Enough for Business Columnist

"The greed that Mr. Stone so vividly conveyed in his first 'Wall Street' movie got completely out of hand. Much of the trading that went on in the prelude to the crisis was almost nihilistic, utterly lacking any redeeming virtue. Villains abounded. Was it really so impossible to build a movie script out of this material?" - Times "Talking Business" columnist Joe Nocera moonlighting as a movie critic giving a bad notice to "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps," left-wing filmmaker Oliver Stone's sequel to "Wall Street," September 26.

Fiercely Defending the Ground Zero Mosque

"The great mosque debate seems to have unleashed a flurry of vandalism and harassment directed at mosques: construction equipment set afire at a mosque site in Murfreesboro, Tenn; a plastic pig with graffiti thrown into a mosque in Madera, Calif.; teenagers shooting outside a mosque in upstate New York during Ramadan prayers. It is too soon to tell whether hate crimes against Muslims are rising or are on pace with previous years, experts said. But it is possible that other episodes are going unreported right now." - Religion reporter Laurie Goodstein, September 6.

"The clergy members said that those responsible for a poisoned climate included politicians manipulating a wedge issue in an election year, self-styled 'experts' on Islam who denigrate the faith for religious or political reasons and some conservative evangelical Christian pastors." - Religion reporter Laurie Goodstein on the controversy over building a mosque near Ground Zero, September 8.

Splashing in the Shallow End with Meghan McCain

"Her own book would make as gripping a read for vacationers on South Padre Island as it would for students at midterms or for politicos on the eve of midterm elections. But 'Dirty Sexy Politics' is no young-adult memoir; it's a strongly-worded political platform from which Ms. McCain attacks today's moribund, inflexible Republican Party ('all the old dudes,' is one way she puts it) and clamors for change....Throughout the book, she lays out her vision of a moderate, inclusive Republican Party that could win over young people like herself who have come of age with interactive social media and care about small government, defense, the environment and gay rights. It infuriates her when rigid Republicans accuse her of being a Republican In Name Only, a RINO. 'I cannot stand the word RINO, because I think it's an easy way to belittle someone who's flexible with the kind of world we live in,' she said." - From Leisl Schillinger's September 12 profile of Meghan McCain and her new book "Dirty Sexy Politics."

Today's Big Story: Democratic Whining

"Driving the disparity in the ad wars has been an array of Republican-oriented organizations that are set up so they can accept donations of unlimited size from individuals and corporations without having to disclose them. The situation raises the possibility that a relatively small cadre of deep-pocketed donors, unknown to the general public, is shaping the battle for Congress in the early going. The yawning gap in independent interest group spending is alarming some Democratic officials, who argue that it amounts to an effort on the part of wealthy Republican donors, as well as corporate interests, newly emboldened by regulatory changes, to buy the election." - Michael Luo's front-page story, September 14.

Here We Go Again: Gingrich the "Bombthrower"

"But Mr. Gingrich has been a bomb thrower since he was a backbencher in the House trying to work his way up. And in his years as a former politician, he has sought to grab headlines by sometimes taking extreme positions." - From a September 13 "Caucus" post by Michael Shear at, after Gingrich had praised a Forbes cover story by conservative author Dinesh D'Souza.

Ground Zero Mosque Opponents Also Like Witch-Burners

"Suspicion of outsiders, of people who behave or worship differently, may be an ingrained element of the human condition, a survival instinct from our cave-man days. But we should also recognize that historically this distrust has led us to burn witches, intern Japanese-Americans, and turn away Jewish refugees from the Holocaust." - Columnist Nicholas Kristof criticizing opposition to the Ground Zero mosque, September 5.

Today's Front Page News: Decade-Old Masturbation Talk

"In the bright light of Wednesday morning, Christine O'Donnell, whose Republican primary victory upended the calculus for future control of the United State Senate, became quickly known to Americans as the woman who once made dire warnings about the negative impact of masturbation." - Lead sentence to a front-page story by Jim Rutenberg and Jennifer Steinhauer on the U.S. Senate race in Delaware, September 16.

Obama, Bringing Hope to the Paris Slums

"France is home to five million to six million Muslims, Europe's largest Muslim population, and the banlieues [Paris slums] have long been considered potential incubators for religious extremism. But anti-American sentiment, once pervasive in these neighborhoods, seems to have been all but erased since the election of Mr. Obama, who has proved to be a powerful symbol of hope here and a powerful diplomatic tool. Many suggest the Americans' warm reception is a measure of these communities' sense of abandonment. Others say it is the presence of Mr. Obama in the White House. Whatever the case, the United States is now more popular in the banlieues than at any other time in recent memory, say French and American officials." - France-based reporter Scott Sayare, September 23.

Cue the Laugh Track: Obama-care "Saves Money," "Responds to a Genuine Need"

"The law responds to a genuine need. The Census Bureau reported last week that 50.7 million people were uninsured in 2009, an increase of 4.3 million or nearly 10 percent over the previous year. The health care law saves money, by the reckoning of the Congressional Budget Office, so Republicans would need to find ways to achieve equivalent savings if they repealed the law."
- Health-care reporter Robert Pear discussing some of the "hurdles" Republicans face in their plans to repeal Obama-care, September 21.

So Just How Far Right Is the Tea Party, Kate?

"Even some of the primaries that Tea Party candidates lost suggest how much the Tea Party sentiment has already pushed Republicans to the right...Democrats are certainly counting on the Republicans' taking a very long trip to a very remote region of the right." - Kate Zernike, September 16.