Still No "Liberals" Among the Big-Business Assaulting Democrats

More "populism," not liberalism, in the Democratic race for president, even as Hillary lashes into the "two oilmen in the White House" and attacks drug companies.

Tuesday's off-lead by John Broder and Jeff Zeleny dealt with the run-up to today's important Democratic primary in Wisconsin, "Democrats Make Populist Appeals Before Contests - Primary in Wisconsin - Clinton Pushes Help for Families - Obama Faults Tax Breaks." As it did on Friday, the Times characterized Hillary and Obama's liberal excoriations of big business (and "the two oilmen in the White House") as "populist" instead of the more loaded term "liberal."

The headline's "Populist" is invoked again in the lead sentence:

Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama intensified their populist appeals on Monday, responding to widespread economic anxiety and pushing the Democratic Party further from the business-friendly posture once championed by Bill Clinton.

But just how populist, as opposed to liberal, is Hillary Clinton's rhetoric?

Mrs. Clinton, speaking on the eve of the Wisconsin primary but looking forward to primaries in Ohio and Texas on March 4, issued a 12-page compendium of her economic policies that emphasizes programs aiding families stressed by high oil prices, home foreclosures, costly student loans and soaring health care premiums.

In public appearances here and in her economic booklet, she took aim at hedge fund managers, oil company profits, drug company subsidies and trade agreements that she says encourage companies to export jobs.

Mrs. Clinton told an audience that the Wisconsin primary and subsequent contests were "a chance for all of you here to help take our country back."

"We need tax breaks for the middle class, not for the wealthy and the well-connected," she said Monday morning at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wis. "We're going to rein in the special interests and get the $55 billion in giveaways and subsidies they've gotten under Republicans back into your pockets."

Mrs. Clinton referred to the "two oilmen in the White House" and repeated her call for a windfall-profits tax on the oil industry to finance a $50 billion program to develop alternate energy sources and create "green jobs."


Both are maneuvering to win the endorsement of John Edwards, who dropped out of the presidential race late last month after running on an explicitly populist message. And both are adjusting their public statements to appeal to his slice of the electorate, including union members.

The Times did find some liberals later on, if only to forward their complaints that Clinton and Obama weren't liberal enough:

But she has also sought, often successfully, to win support and campaign contributions from an array of business leaders, including John J. Mack, the chairman of Morgan Stanley and one of the Republican Party's biggest fund-raisers. And she infuriated many liberals last year when she told an audience at the Yearly Kos convention of bloggers that she would continue to take contributions from lobbyists because they "represent real Americans."

Mr. Obama has laid out an economic agenda that is broadly similar to Mrs. Clinton's. But until recently, he was the target of criticism from some liberals for not being more outspoken about what they see as the deficiencies in the nation's trade policies. For the last week, though, facing tough battles in the Midwest, Mr. Obama has been emphasizing the economic upheaval that trade deals have brought to communities in Wisconsin and Ohio, and he has sought in particular to put Mrs. Clinton on the defensive over Nafta, the North American trade pact signed into law by Mr. Clinton.